by Mike Ventrella
© 1995 Alliance LARP, Inc.
In Volta, thieving skills are valued and are not "frowned upon" in polite society as they might be in more civilized Ashbury. In fact, one of the highlights of each year's Voltan Tournament is a thieving competition.
Vestrin Bellicose is hoping that Duke Adrick Voltan will this year choose his thieving test for the Tournament. He has been working on it for years in an attempt to top the last Tournament contest he designed back in '92. It is a great honor (and very profitable) to have your design chosen for the Tournament. Winning designs then tour the duchy, much like a traveling circus.
In order to test it, he has traveled into Ashbury and has set up his test, inviting all to participate. If too many wimpy Ashbans can do it, he will know it is too easy. (Of course, he won't say this out loud).
He has offered a reward of a magic item to the team that gets the best score in his competition. He is a wealthy man and can afford to make it worthwhile for the "thieves." He will tell them the rules but will not give any hints as to what they may find inside.
The players have already signed up for this challenge in-game and will show up at the door ready to go. Vestrin will sit them down and have them sign a contract which contains the following rules. He will explain each rule to them and will try to assure them that there is no trickery involved and the rules are very straightforward. Vestrin must emphasize his interest in impressing Duke Adrick and must use Adrick's name as many times as possible without being blatantly obvious about it.
The basic rules are:
1. No more than 3 people in a group. Among those three people, they must be able to pick locks, disarm traps, and read and write.
2. There are a number of "tokens" scattered in the rooms. Tokens will be found in trapped boxes and other hiding places. The team that turns in the most tokens wins the competition.
3. Participants must complete the quest within 90 minutes or the test will terminate no matter how far along the participants are.
4. There will be treasure scattered about that participants may take, but no traps or locks may be removed. Further, all locks must remain in working order. Participants will be fined for any locks that are found to have been shattered, bashed open, or destroyed.
5. All participants must sign a legal waiver stating that they are participating of their own free will and will not press charges for any damages that they may incur while in the test.
6. If they get into a fight with anyone within, they must keep whoever is within from dying. Killing Blows will be prosecuted as murder. The "monsters" within will not administer killing blows nor throw death spells but they are under no obligation to heal any participant bleeding to death. None of the traps will use Instant Death gasses or elixirs, nor will any "monsters" throw any. The participants can assume that anyone they meet inside will be "hostile."
7. Participants are allowed to take whatever they want into the test as long as they can carry it. Protective spells are allowed and encouraged.
He will also explain that the test consists of a series of rooms. The players much get as much out of each room as they can before moving on. Once they open the door to the next room, the previous door will close and they will have to move on.
He will also give some general advice, letting them know that the harder the trap is, the more tokens they will find there, and also that the farther they go through the rooms, the more difficult the traps become.
As soon as the players sign the agreement, he will say "Very good!" and then, holding up a stopwatch, say "begin!" He will then leave through the only door in the room. There is a secret trapdoor under the sofa that the players must find to start the adventure.
They will have to crawl through the secret door to get to room two.
Vestrin will bother them if they hurt anything in his room.
Note that there should be no lights whatsoever anywhere in this module! If the thieves didn't think to bring a lantern, candle, or light spell, that's their stupid mistake.
We'll let the players start off fairly conventionally. This is a room with a table and a trunk. Lots of other props are in the room so it's nice and crowded and there are many places to hide stuff.
Written under the desk is the letter "A" that cannot be removed. There is also an "A" in the trunk.
On the other side of the room is a door that can't be opened. However, the stupid long table that everyone hates has an opening in this room. One person will have to crawl down through the table to get to the other side where they can open the door for the others. The table is crisscrossed with wires, only one of which is attached to a Paralysis gas trap. Under the table is the letter "K".
Behind the picture is a flame trap.
Behind the upright chest, connected to the rug, is an acid trap.
Attached to the helmet is a Silence gas.
This is the room on the other side of the door and table.
There is a person sitting at a table with his or her back turned to the player. The thief must sneak up behind the person and waylay him or her. If the thief makes too much noise, the person will hear and will turn to fight. The person knows about the traps in the room and if he or she hears the thief coming, will actually attempt to set them off from a distance. This is scaled per level, but it should be remembered that it is meant to be a singular battle. Remember: no killing blows.
If the players heal this person up afterwards, he or she will not attack; the job has been done. The person will sit in the corner and wait to reset the room for the next group. The person to be waylaid is a straight fighter at the party level. He will have a Poison Shield and a Shield Magic but not a Magic Armor.
Other than that, the room is fairly ordinary although filled with lots of props for searching. Inside the trunk is the letter "D".
On the desk, in the bottom drawer is a Beserk gas. In the chicken potholder thing on the table is a Feeblemind gas. The trigger for that is on the table across the room.
The trap that is set as they crawl out of the tunnel is a Flame trap.
The players will enter this small room and begin to hear a "clinking" noise; it's the sound of the ceiling falling on them slowly. Across the small room is a door with three locks on it. They must pick the locks on the small door near the floor to get the ceiling to stop falling. Even then, the only way to get this door open is to close the one behind (remember the instructions in the beginning!).
One lock has a Paste of Stickiness on the front and Silence on the back (contact).
This room has a large upright chest with a small Love gas trap on it. Two more letters are in this room as well as a person lying face down on the floor, with a small box near his feet.
When the players get near the person on the floor, he will kick the box near his feet, setting off the Sleep gas within (he, of course, has a Poison Shield active). He has two other Sleep gasses to throw, and will otherwise fight the party with a weapon.
As soon as the party touches the door to the next room, the door will come to life. A voice will come from the door and berate and insult the party and otherwise roleplay with them and tease them. It will answer no questions other than to say "could be" or something else noncommittal. However, it will ask the party a riddle that they will need to answer before progressing further.
If you're congested, then I'm the best
For coffers, I'll ease your burden
I will help to clear your chest
But when I'm done, you're hurtin'
The answer is "lockpick."
A coin next to the big cabinet is attached to a string which will set off an explosive trap.
As soon as the players answer the riddle, the door will open and the marshal must call a hold. Room six is completely dark, and the players' lights do not work in this room. The marshal must place blindfolds on the players.
This room has fans blowing at the players and perhaps the sound of wind. The marshal should describe the feeling of a vast open area with wind everywhere.
The players must walk across a series of cinder blocks on the floor, spread about two feet apart from each other in a maze-like pattern. This is a lot harder and a lot more fun than it seems. If they fall off, they will die unless the players tied themselves together or made other provisions.
Hanging from a rope in the ceiling is a bag with some tokens in it as well as some otehr treasure, but this is in a far off place and is only accessible if the players are going the wrong way.
At the other end, they land upon a large platform with a locked door into the next room (Yes, they have to pick the lock in the dark!). Once in the next room they will be able to see again but cannot look backwards because the darkness will still be there. The players' liquid lights and other light sources will now work again.
This room is crisscrossed with "spider web" string with bells hanging from them. There is a door on the other side, and off in the corner is a trapped locked box. The players can take the direct route to the door thus avoiding most of the traps, or can try crawling under the web to get the box. Making a bell ring causes electrical damage to shoot down the web. hurting all who are touching it at that time.
The chest is trapped with a Hallucinoid poison.
On the other side of the room is a prison cell with a trapped locked box behind it. The box opens away from the players so the thief will have to undo the trap without looking at it.
There is also a combination lock on the wall with the alphabet.
The players must code in the words "HAIL ADRICK" (from the letters found in all the rooms) to be able to open the door and get into the last room.
This room appears as a paradise, with lots of treasure and stuff piled around the room. Of course, most of it is worthless.
There is a tripwire across the area that has a Paralysis gas.
There are two constructs in the room that will attack anything that is moving. They will not chase the party if they run back into the hallway.
Mike's comments: Even though my name is on this, credit needs to go to Eric Hamilton who thought of the idea and Jim Quirk who came up with and set most of the traps! I really enjoyed this module, as did those who participated. None made it past the room with the web before time ran out, and a few ended in the room with the falling ceiling because they forgot to close the door behind them and couldn't figure out how to open the door in front of them!
One team was very close to winning when, while crawling across the cinder blocks, their bag of tokens they had collected fell to the ground! The winning team was (ironically) led by Eric Hamilton, who understood that there was a gamble to be made: whether to try to get all the tokens or just bypass the tough looking traps and move on towards the end where the rewards were certain to be greater. This strategy won for him, but it was close race nonetheless.