Tales of the Black Kingdom - Part 3 (Spoilers)


I'm about to run the third of the Tales of the Black Kingdom adventures.

The adventure opens up with the characters asking questions about the Scarlet Hand. The thing is how do they know about the Scarlet Hand to ask questions? They'll have seen the tattoo that marks them out but they won't know the groups name.

I could just have them asking about the tattoo but one of the statements about the group is that no one knows who's a member so people are afraid of discussing them. If the tattoo was common knowledge then people would know who was in or out.

I'm tempted to have the narrator that links my adventures describe a meeting with a Scarlet Hand assassin that they beat the name of the gang out of, however that then makes the attack of the assassins in the town less of a surprise. I could stage that encounter before the "gather info" begins but that presumes that one of the attackers will somehow cough the name up.

Has anyone run this and got any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.


I've run the first two adventures and will start up the third and last one next week after a way too long Christmas break (yes; I am experiencing Conan-withdrawal :cry: ).

Here's how I handled it in my game:

In Ruins of Atlaia, the PCs teamed up with Alam'Enshadar and at an appropriate time I let the groups scholar get a peak at Alam's tatoo (he was dressing his wounds after a battle, being the groups healer and all). At that point I let him roll for his Knowledge Is Power ability and, since he rolled very high (like 28 or so), I decided that he recognised the tatoo as being associated with some mysterious brotherhood called the Scarlet Hand located somewhere in the lands south of Atlaia. Basically, I gave them everything they needed to move on to the next adventure here; the tatoo, the name of the Scarlet Hand and where they were to be found.
The adventure ended with the scholar being knocked uncounscius by Alam, waking up to discover that the thief had escaped with the sceptre (which the scholar had grown very, very fond off at this point). He is after revenge as well as the sceptre! :twisted:

So, advice for you game? Can't you just start the adventure saying that they have travelled south since the last adventure, asking around for a man with a mysterious tatoo. Someone along the way recognised the tatoo as belonging to the mysterious Scarlet Hand and told them to head on towards the lands of the Wadai.
I don't really think the tatoo-Scarlet Hand connection has to be so secret; maybe the tatoo is just a mark of the highest members of the brotherhood, and people could still be very paranoid since they don't know who the groups lower members and informers are.

An alternative, depending on your game and if you haven't already established Alam as belonging to the Scarlet Hand, could be to have them catch up with and capture him, only to have him reveal that he has already sold the sceptre to a mysterious group from the south... (In this version Alam would just be a freelancer.)


My players have seen the tattoo on Anubar who was caught and hung in Zabhela. The met Alam'Enshadar but wouldn't have anything to do with him and sent him away, they've got no idea about his connection to anything.

At the moment I'm planning on doing what you suggested and just handling it in the scene setting narration in one way or another. I'm quite happy to leave Alam as a member of the Scarlet Hand, I'm hoping they'll meet him and Anubar's brother (who they also met but presumed he was Anubar) at Garundi. Hopefully they'll work out then that the Scarlet Hand is actually quite far reaching and that they'd be well put to help in wiping them out rather than just stealing the sceptre and hoofing it for "safety".

One thing I am also considering doing is an encounter with a group of Scarlet Hand slavers. That'll hopefully bring to light the other sort of activities that they're up to and that many of the locals won't be happy about it. If they free the slaves I might even have them drop hints of a brewing revolt. The encounter with the prisoners in the tower may not happen and I won't to let them know that there's potential allies somewhere relatively close by.

Thanks for the response.
Hmmm....in theory, if all went according to plan, Artelios would divulge the name of the Scarlet Hand, which would be enough info to get the PCs asking about it (page 53, lower left column). As GM I'd let him live long enough to proclaim his state of death.....but some of these connections, admittedly, depend on the players taking certain actions (like tracking down Elam'Shadar and following him southward, and a scholarly sort among the group developing the sorcerous fixation on the sceptre). If they somehow missed all of that, I'd have them encounter one or more assassins later on, sent by Elam'Shadar or another Scarlet Hand agent to dispatch the witnesses, effectively....and thus allowing for another vessel to impart a clue.
Do'h! I see what a potential problem would be (and I wrote the book....)

So, what if Artelios was not with the party when they journeyed to Atlaia??? Yeah, author-boy, whaddabout that!!! :oops:

I would make a couple suggestions:

Alam'Shadar is excessively boastful.....or has a couple companions who serve to distract and die, but not before proclaiming their proud loyalty to the Scarlet Hand.

The PCs DON'T figure it out.....until some time later, while resting poeacably (or not) in Tombalku or somewhere else when assassins sent to clean up possible witnesses strike (my prior suggestion).....or, in taling of the matter, they meet a rival of Alam'Shadar who knows the man's history and it itching for revenge on an unrelated issue.

The PCs are gathered up by a regional king (perhaps the current regent of Tombalku) after boasting of their adventure in Atlaia....the king has heard of the tale and believes that the sceptre is his, a divine rod to enforce his rule, and he offers wealth to the PCs to seek it out. Further, his resident diviner is able to tell them where to go, and perhaps even the name of the organization that stole it (this idea has the "deus ex machina" element going, alas, but it would work if necessary, and provides motivation with cash to back it).

The idea that one of the PCs is touched by the possessive sorcery of the sceptre could be exploited in to dreams or visions that lead to the knowledge of the Scarlet Hand and where to go....another deus ex machina theme, perhaps.

I really do like the previously suggested tattoo lead-in, though. Very appropriate, and can get the PCs to asking around, attracting unwanted attention and such!