Roleplaying Resources

Letters from Jack

This is a game I joined for about ten sessions, starting in the winter of 2005.

During the brief time Jack was in the party, he was reporting regularly to their enemies. Over time, he became annoyed at the incompetence of his superiors, and a bit sympathetic to the PCs' cause. Eventually, he would have converted over, and fed misinformation to his superiors. Unfortunately, the campaign fell apart, with Jack at the root of it. I'm really sorry for ruining your campaign…

Character History

Character Sheet

Stuff by Mobius

Letter 1

Plan B worked, after play A failed utterly. Three months tracking down Mobius and *poof*, he and his gang disappear into thin air. After that, I decided to send your thugs home and continue on my own. Getting myself rescued from Vassan soldiers was an okay idea, but people were starting to get curious. Besides, some of your men don't know how to pull their punches. After they left, I planted a few feelers. When Mobius reappeared in Waterdeep, I was there, listening to him publicize much of what we already know. After that, I told a recruiting artificer I was a Damarran street performer, and got him to believe I was profoundly affected by Mobius's plan, and wanted nothing more than to help him. Bingo. They let me in almost without question.

Observations:

  • Mobius has happened upon a hoard of about a hundred thousand. This pays for the ten cadres, and starts things off smoothly.
  • They've asked Impiltur for help, and been all but refused.
  • I've met a scout named Balin, who I'll describe in detail on the back. He's been around in Damarra, and knows a lot about the power structure there. He knows about the tokens that identify mages. He knows about the liutenents, and the scope of their power, but has little detail about them individually. He's seen the troop movements in Bloodstone Pass, and knows that the bloodstone mines are poorly guarded. He knows almost nothing about Vassa. Says he's only been there twice.
  • The scout's been assembling cadres out of Damarran exiles, six so far. The churches of Ilmater and Shandukal have put up men towards his cause.
  • I met four of the cadres, described and named on the back. This should give you enough information to find them magically. They're stationed in Heleoglobus, Trail's End, Goliad and the Glacier of the White Wyrm. They pose as common workers, and for a while at least, will be gathering intelligence.

Immediate Plan:

  • They've heard about the caravan that will leave within a week or two to bring gold to the new mint, and they plan to capture it before it gets there, in order to disrupt trade.
  • I think Bloodstone will be a primary target before long.

Recommendation:

  • The painfully slow effort of gathering funds for their operation gives Vassa time to quietly prepare for war.
  • I suggest you interfere with them as little as possible at this point, except as noted below. We need as much information from them as possible, while keeping things slow. The last thing we want is to give them a sense of urgency before we're ready. Killing the cadres would be throwing away a valuable resource.
  • There's no need to give them the caravan. I suggest you feed false intelligence to the cadres. Create a second caravan, and make them think it's the one they're waiting for. They don't know how much gold will be shipped, so if it contains, say, ten to twenty-five percent of the total, they'll believe they've succeeded. The real gold can be teleported, or shipped some other time.
  • Enlisting the help of the Cult of the Dragon might not be a bad idea. The Longstriders have made some powerful enemies there.

-N

And just for fun, here's what Nile omitted from his letter:

  • Mobius is having a magic claw made to enhance his formidable counterspelling abilities.
  • The cadres are equipped with silversheen, which wasn't in Mobius's original report.
  • The cadres have a means of magical communication with the Longstriders.
  • The Longstriders plan to take the mint. Nile wants to see how that will work out.

Letter 2

They've brought me to Heleoglobus. I don't know for sure what their plan is yet, but I gather they're trying to capture or destroy some important public building. I'll let you know as soon as I find out. I suggest you keep a watch on important sites in the city, but that you not let the Longstriders know that you know of their presense here.

P.S. If we wanted them dead, I could kill them myself. The goal isn't to stop the Longstriders – it's to stop the resistence, which almost certainly goes beyond them. You know all this, of course, but some of your men don't. The giants I understand. They'll kill anything they can eat, but the Monk?

-N

Nile has two conflicting interests here, neither very noble. He wants to see the Longstriders pull off the heist, simply because it's so preposterous and requires such an extreme amount of skill – right up his alley. On the other hand, he doesn't want to be blamed for the mint getting taken.

Letter 3

Wow. Give me a hundred years to observe them and I'd never have guessed the Longstriders' plan. The mint didn't surprise me – they're targeting any likely source of money – but that they'd steal the presses? And then that they'd have the luck to succeed, despite the demon? No doubt, as I further integrate myself into Mobius's group, I'll be privy to their plans sooner. In the mean time, I'll see if I can locate the presses for you.

Observations:

  • It's clear that they're trying to cripple the Damarran economy.
  • The demon caused suspicion to flair up, and it took all my skill to talk them down, and convince them of a reasonable explanation. Still, it might be a good idea to keep abyssal creatures out of this for a while.
  • They've learned about the general going between Valas and Ravensberg, but they have no name. Is he someone I've met? If so, make sure he doesn't show any recognition. I assume the information came from you. Feeding them this kind of information is a great idea, since they're sure to bite when they hear about something this obvious. They expect there to be a general, ten staff members including a wizard and a cleric, and ten harriers. It would be in our best interests to maintain those numbers and avoid suspicion.
  • They anticipate invasions of Impiltur and Narfel.
  • They've heard about the ship-building operations in Vassa, but do not know where they're located.

Send more feather tokens with your response. This is my last.

-N

Not saying: * They know about the temple to Orcus near the glacier. While Nile is borderline evil himself, he doesn't like the idea of murdering a thousand people, or of demons and devils ransacking Damarra. * They're considering glyphs and a blade barrier circle to stop the general.

Letter 4

As I'm sure you've heard, the Longstriders have been to the glacier and made a mess of a temple someone was building. There was an explosion in a pool of some sort of black sludge, but not much damage otherwise, except that a few hundred slaves were freed. The cleric in charge was killed, but fortunately, I was able to protect his intelligent weapon until it could escape. As usual, the Longstriders didn't suspect a thing. The good news – we now know that all you have to do is hint at a slave operation and the Longstriders will come running. They threw a nice chunk of the gold they got from the caravan at this operation, so that buys us more time. And one little temple is better than the ship- building operation

Observations:

  • They're becoming a little more secretive. Two more cadres came to visit, but only Eskin, the cleric, interviewed them. I wasn't able to get a good look. One cadre will be placed in Bloodstone Pass. I'll let you know when I find out where the other one's going.
  • The artificer who introduced me to the Longstriders helped them on the temple operation. His name is Telsun and he has a strong, and presumably loyal, bodyguard. He doesn't seem the type to join the roving cadre himself, but he is a powerful ally.
  • Balin, the head scout, continues to be Longstriders' primary source of information. If you can mislead him or his buddies, you can get the Longstriders to do whatever you want. Be careful though. He's highly skilled, difficult to corrupt, and too much manipulation from that end might raise their suspicions.

-N

What he's not saying: He hasn't really hidden anything in this letter. He's just trying to give the impression that: A) He didn't know they were going to the temple. B) He didn't know the temple was important.

Letter 5

[Sent from the inn in Nar]

Good news. The Longstriders have gotten wind of the big treasure hunt in Nar. We're in some little Nar town now, discussing how to search for whatever the Witch King's looking for. Their best plan is to wander around the coast for a while, and maybe contact the Windriders. There's no way the Longstriders will be able to cover as much ground as an entire regiment, or figure out as much about artifacts as the Big Guy, so this could put us months ahead of them. Just keep those cadres busy, and we'll be set.

Observations:

  • One of the two new cadres is in Bloodstone. Not sure about the other one.
  • The Longstriders' scout in Narfel is called Allerin. He's a hermit outside of Narsek, easy to take out if we need to, but certainly not worth the risk.

Recommendation:

  • Do nothing. The Longstriders could waste months on this wild goose chase.

-N

Letter 8

We've just wasted a few days helping out some Nar tribe. I suspect the Longstriders will be spending more time in Nar, which can be nothing but good news for us. One thing to watch out for – the Longstriders are trying to convince the Nar tribes to unite against Vassa. Given their history, I doubt it will work, but you should keep your eyes open on that front.

Observations:

  • There's still much talk of comandeering ships from Vassa's northern fleet.
  • Mobius has been out talking to Cormyr. I wasn't present, but I suspect he was trying to convince them to join a war.
  • I got a good look at the Earthfasts. The place is a fortreess, but I believe a determined attack could take it out if necesarry.
  • The Longstriders have learned of the Big Guy's plan to attack Impiltur within the next six months.

-N

What he's not telling him:

  • Mobius's plan to learn about Jack's geneology and make him a figurehead king of Damarra. Nile wants to work out this problem on his own. Although he wouldn't take a job as figurehead king, he doesn't want Harbregger to think he'd be tempted.
  • He hasn't decided whether to mention the three new tiles. He's not too keen on magic that will fill Damarra with demons.

Letter 9

(sent early the evening of the attack on Garus)

Longstriders planning direct assault on Garus the Black. May not be free to write again until attack is over.

-N

Letter 10

They bought Garus's trick lock stock and barrel. From what I hear, Mobius suspected I was a plant as soon as he got my message, and the spells Garus had put on me made them think I didn't know about it.

As expected, what remain of the Longstriders are going to attempt a rescue. It'll be a little more extreme than we expected, but the way I see it, that's all the better for us. Mobius and Sajen have had Eskin raised from the dead at great expense. They spent even more on re-equipping him and myself. Now they're hiring the Flaming Fists (ooc: or whatever they're called. I left my notes at home) for seventy thousand to make a full-out assault on Heleogoblus. Their plan is to invade the city and kidnap as many peasants as possible to bring back to Nar, allowing the Longstriders their rescue.

Now I know Garus wants the Longstriders dead. I don't think this is the time. He'd be trading a questionable victory against the resistence for a major loss in forces, which will make the resistence's depletion of funds worth it. I've seen these Flaming Fists, and everyone's heard about their exploits. I say let them win and minimize losses. They'll breach the walls, grab a bunch of dispensable peasents, and give the Longstriders a chance to rescue the prisoners. In the mean time, the Longstriders are out almost a hundred thousand gold, putting the resistence back so far that Vassa will be ready for war by the time they recover. Garus has a little time to plan. He can use this to minimize his losses and come out way ahead. The mere fact of this encounter will be a significant victory for Vassa.

-N

This was written during the evening when Jack was “resting,” and, like all his letters, was sent to Col. Harbregger in code. Jack's playing it safe here. Especially if there's a good chance the Longstriders will be killed, he wants to make sure he has the good graces of both Harbregger and Garus. On the other hand, he's still confident that killing the Longstriders won't end the resistence. They're a great source of information, and infiltrating a new group would be that much more risk. Note: If they encounter Garus again, Jack will focus on other combatants. He thinks its a bad idea for him to be the one to kill Garus. If Garus is the only combatant left, or if the others insist that he fight him, he'll manage to miss or do less damage more often than usual (pulling his punches. Maybe a -4 attack and -4 damage).

Letter 6

[Sent the next night]

Make that good news and bad news. These Longstriders sure do keep me on my toes. By the remotest chance, the Longstriders have found and captured Illindra. They promised to remove her curse if she gave them information, but I don't think they even needed to promise – she was aching to spill everything she knew. It was a good move keeping her from knowing too much; you can't trust people bound only by a vague notion of some future freedom. So here's what she didn't say. She didn't mention me. She didn't know anything about the Big Guy, or the military operations. What she did know was about the artifacts. The Longstriders have twelve of the mural pieces, and she says there are forty total. She also told us about the two to four thousand troops and six thousand or so undead in the port she came from. They want to take the tiles to the temple of Mystra, Lathander or Helm. They're also talking about taking them to one of the Chosen – Storm Silverhand and Eliminster are at the top of the list.

Plans:

  • The Longstriders might take on the undead army at Illindra's port, or go to the Windriders for more information about the artifacts. They want to collect the rest of the artifacts for themselves.

Recommendation:

  • Illindra said the Big Guy could replace a few tiles if they were lost. If she's right, I'd say protect all the other tiles as best as possible, and let the Longstriders think they've foiled his plans. Neither of the Longstriders' possible next moves is all that dangerous. This gives us time to hide the remaining artifacts as best as possible.
  • I know there aren't a lot of big risk takers over there, but how's this for an idea? Let the Longstriders collect the rest of the tiles, but make sure it takes them a long time. You can keep them distracted for months while you build up an army and ready an attack. So they get all the tiles, build the mural, take it to where it needs to be taken, and who's waiting there to take it from them but the Big Guy's top men. Probably won't happen, but it'd be interesting. And imagine the credit that goes to the guy who thought it up. I keep my distance from promotions and fame, so it's yours if you want it.

-N

Letter 7

Harbregger's Letter…

All right Jack the information you have been feeding us has been most useful if slightly off at times, such is the nature of your type of assignment but not all are as patient as me. You will find enclosed a dozen missive tokens use them in case of emergence, for instant communication. What i want from you now are two things 1. Those tiles recovered from the ship duplicates can be found at deep river tavern under the name dorovan. Make the swap and pick up can be made. 2. Detailed information on the long strider's. Abilities items of magic observation and members, the to newest member in particular. Also defenses around the group headquarters the name of who created them and what the entail. That is all

Har

The Theft…

First, he'll go to the orc. “I may need you to take a hit for me soon. If you see it coming, follow my lead. You'll be well compensated.”

Then he'll get fake tiles, preferably by having them made by Harbregger's men and teleported in to a safe location. He'll meet the teleporter at an empty warehouse or something. He'll encourage them to put something magical on them, so they look like the real thing.

Then he'll go out disguised as the orc (hat of disguise) and replace the tiles. He won't mind being seen at some point (though not at any crucial point), because it will create a set of clues leading up to the orc. He won't do anything too characteristic of himself while disguised as the orc, such as vault across great distances. This will begin by sneaking out of his window, since he doesn't want anyone suspecting that he wasn't in his room the whole time.

Careful not to be seen this time by anyone likely to follow him, he'll take the real tiles back to a specified location and leave them there to be picked up.

If the orc is caught, Nile will insist on taking care of him himself. If the Longstriders go with him, the orc should know not to be found. If he's alone, he'll find the orc, thank him for his services, take his bow (he has to have something to show for it), and give him money or magic items, and then instruct him to get as far away as possible, avoiding detection by the Longstriders, the cadres (who he'll describe) and the witch king's forces. Maybe he can book passage on a ship or something and make a new life for himself as a wealthy independent.

The Response…

Patience is what this assignment is all about. I'll continue trying to provide the most accurate information possible, but these things take time. I can't very well walk up to Mobius and say “please outline all plans for me, past, present and future, along with the locations and directions of each of your operatives.” If there are people willing to act too quickly and screw everything up, that's their problem. I just hope they don't go looking for a scapegoat in the end.

Along the same lines, some suspicion is starting to flare about the way that every force we face seems to know all about our plans and tactics. I've been candid in my letters, but it might be wise to intentionally ignore some of the information I provide. If I were deploying a force against the Longstriders, I would intentionally withhold certain facts to make the confrontation more natural. At least no one has pointed me out yet.

As you know by now, the recovery mission went without a hitch. The duplicates are in place, and if they were properly enchanted, it should be a while before anyone notices.

Headquarters

It will be difficult to attain detailed information about the defenses without raising suspicion, but I'll see what I can do.

The Longstriders

I've been watching them for a few weeks, and I admit they continue to surprise me. Neither their plans nor their abilities are as consistent as we'd hope.

  • Mobius: We've been watching him for a long time, but I'll review what you already know. Mobius is the strategic mastermind behind the resistence, though I'm certain that taking him out will not be enough to end it at this point. Our best bet is still to provide misleading information to the cadres. I'm no master of magic, but I've noticed that Eskin and Grimlak are often surprised at what he does with it. I believe he has some way of manipulating the magic of others. He is equipped as one would expect of a wizard, with the addition of some sort of claw that he's hesitant to use to attack anything directly.
  • Eskin: This dwarf's as formidable as any Cleric of Orcus I've seen, though his primary strength is in his connections. Besides his clan in the Earthfast mountains, he also knows a good many useful people in major cities, and is the primary channel for information from the cadres and other spies. He also has connections with an entity known as Eamon, often referred to by the Longstriders as “the Dungeon Master,” of whom I have learned little. I do not yet know whether this dungeon he is master of will prove to be a significant threat. Eskin is a master of transportation magic, making him impossible to track.
  • Walfrus: The gnomish rogue has recently retired from active missions and become quartermaster. He is an expert trapfinder and a deadly assassin, but his timidity should keep him from causing any more trouble.
  • Grimlak: A true master of flashy, unfocused magic. While dangerous at a distance, his primary weakness is his battle-lust. When he tires of his magic, which happens often, he rushes in with his sword.
  • Mina: The palladin, like many Vassan women, is a swordsman of impressive strength and skill. She has connections to various organizations of palladins, but has had no luck convincing them to join the resistence. Some of the Longstriders, particularly Eskin, do not seem to trust her. This could be an advantage. Mina is a member of a somewhat infamous family, so you can learn all you need to know about her through your Vassan sources.
  • Sajin: It's as dangerous to turn your back on Sajin as it is to turn your back on any monk. In many situations, his combat mobility is comperable to my own, and given time to focus himself, he can prove a deadly opponent. His plans outside of combat are being heeded more and more often, making it difficult at times for me to manipulate things in the right direction. He is also the only one who has shown any suspicion toward me. I'll be making an effort to gain his trust by working closely with him in combat. If I succeed, he will be a useful piece of insurance. If I fail, we'll have to consider what should be done with him.
  • Jing Jang: Witnesses have already reported on the strange powers used by this one. He is dangerous to approach in combat and is proving to be an expert tacticion. I suspect he will rise to a position of leadership in the resistence, making him a valuable person to keep alive, at least as long as he remains with the Longstriders.

-N

OOC: That was a long one, and written in code. It must have taken Nile hours to write. Nile is not holding much back in this letter, though he's clearly trying to manipulate Harbregger to do what's reasonable (in his opinion).

Conclusion

From Chris (Mobius)

Well, three of you were in the group, so I figured this is the right e-mail to send to.

We got together tonight, and it was just Sajinn, JingJang and Moebius. We hemmed and hawed for a few minutes, destroyed Goliad off-screen, and ended the campaign.

Remember how we though things were way too hard, and Eamon was acting as though he knew all our abilities?

Well, it turns out he did. Jacq was a traitor.

Jacq had been feeding the Witch-King's forces information the entire time, in a bid to kill us and take over the group. Which is why the Witch-King's forces always seemed to know our tactics and plans. It's how the Ice Devil knew how to get us, and how they saw us when we tried to capture the General of Undeath.

I have to congratulate Eli on this. I said when I started I wanted a political campaign, and Eli's character was the most successful example of that on all levels. Not only well role-played, but he had a hidden agenda that I never picked up on. And the crazy thing was, Jacq bugged me as a character the whole time. Just couldn't put my finger on it…

Don't think you got away with it though…BJ said he suspected you after the battle with White Death, and knew it was you after you came back from Goliad. Too bad we couldn't get one more session to unmask you (and kill you, frankly), but you did an amazing Keyser Soze impression.

Anyway, Josh is going to keep running an Eberron mini-adventure though May. Starting level 7th, 36,000 gold.

Again, well done. The only downside is, because we weren't familiar with Eamon's DM style we assumed it was all questionable DMing choices, and I think that mistrust went a long way to breaking the campaign. Still, it's an important lesson everyone should learn at least once in their careers…just because you cast “Detect PC” and they started glowing doesn't mean you can trust them.

From me

I heard you all found out about Jack. I was hoping he'd go a little more dramatically, either betraying the group openly at a crucial moment (most likely to save his own skin), dying at the hands of one of the group members, or secretly switching sides and betraying the witch king at a crucial moment. I was open to any one of those, depending on in-game circumstances. The most dramatic exit I had in mind would only occur if the entire party was dead or dying except him. In that case, he would, in the guise of checking Mobius's pulse, have whispered to him that the resistence would continue, but no one would know who was leading it this time. Then he would have stood up, said “without you, there is no resistence,” and killed Mobius. Then he would have continued in his current job, running the resistence secretly. In any case, I'm sorry if Jack's presence made the game any less fun for anyone. Since Sajen suspected him the whole time (I was worried about that both in and out of character throughout the campaign), hopefully at least he had some fun. :)

Thinking back, you may remember multiple times when Jack said things to keep suspicions away from him. For example, he pointed out multiple times that Garus didn't have to have any inside information – that the twenty minutes he'd had to prepare had been plenty. He also consistently gave advice that would waste the Longstriders' funds and slow them down. Usually, though, he avoided giving any advice at all since his main job was as an informant. In short, Nile (Jack's real name) is a guy out for himself, who's gotten various Vassans to give him jobs he likes, and think it was their own idea. He's moved up from a state of extreme poverty to a fairly influential position in the military, though he's avoided acquiring any actual military rank since he doesn't want to be well-known. He stole a copy of Mobius's White Paper from a Cormyrian official, liked the possibilities implied there, and got himself assigned as an infiltrator.

Nile isn't all bad, though. He does care about Damarra to some extent, and did not warn his boss (Colonel Harbregger) when the Longstriders went to destroy the demon gate.

I've thrown up a simple web site for Nile, including his character sheet, his history and all his letters to Col. Harbregger. I hope you enjoy reading them.

I had fun playing Jack/Nile, and fun playing with a well-rounded group of players and an interesting group of characters. I hope to play random D&D games with all of you in the future. If any of you want to ask questions about Jack/Nile, berate me for playing him, or come to my house and try to kill me, feel free. :)

A scene that never happened

Jack was going to use this to keep Mobius from doing the magic genetics test on him.

“Mobius, let's talk.” Jack and Mobius go to another room, and Jack closes the door behind him.

“It's about that geneology thing. I know I overreacted a little, but believe me, I have good reasons.” Jack looks around and sighs. “I can't believe I'm telling you this. Just make sure it doesn't get around. My life could depend on it.

“You see, back in Damarra, after my father was killed and my mother disappeared, I did a little geneology research on my own. With both parents gone, I got curious. Neither had ever talked much about their families, and I wondered why. It took years to save up the money, and it was just books, not magic, but I finally got the information I was looking for.

Jack sits down on the edge of a chair and stares at the ceiling for a few seconds. He continues in a quieter voice. “Really, most of my family isn't anything special. But there's one line that scared me. I found Garus the Black on the same page as my own ancestors. It turns out we share a great-grandfather through marriage. My mother's mother's father and his mother's father's mother married after they were both widowed. Don't laugh. I know it doesn't seem like anything important, but Garus is a dangerous man, as we've all seen. He'll go for the throat of any possible successor, however distant, who isn't his own son. And if he finds out I've joined a resistence against Vassa, I'm as good as dead. Think of it this way. If I'd let them cast that spell on me and word had gotten out, I'd be in twenty pieces on the floor of a torture chamber by now, instead of being a failed trap. Even when we finish this and kill Garus, I can't let anyone know. If the Damarrans hear I'm related to him, they'll want me dead.

“When this is all over, I'll reconsider that puppet king idea of yours. Maybe it will grow on me. But please, help me keep this secret.”

~~DISCUSSION|Comments~~