While your party is out strolling the countryside, a well-dressed man in extravagant attire races up to them. If the party has completed our earlier encounter Sweet Victory, then the players will already be familiar with this NPC. Otherwise, upon catching his breath, the man makes his introductions.
“I’m Oliver N. Hale,” he says, delicately dabbing his forehead with an embroidered handkerchief. His typically well-brushed and luscious silver hair now looks like a sweaty mess, “I’m a perfumer who runs Ye Ol’ Factory, Fine Fragrances and Foul Funks. I’m out on the road, peddling my newest creation: Goldswägger. It’s an Au de Parfum, meaning it’s particularly fragrant and long-lasting. It’s been enormously successful but has led to some…unexpected consequences.
Oliver N. Hale will offer the party one of these bottles. The concoction swirls with a golden beauty and soft glow. Shaking the bottle causes small gold flecks inside the liquid to dance around like a snow globe; effervescent bubbles rise as though the golden liquid was an expensive champagne.
If a player unbottles the fragrance and takes a whiff, have them roll a d4 to determine what exactly they smell:
- d1-The salty sea air, crisp and clean, like one would breathe while sailing carefree aboard a yacht. Subtle notes of caviar can also be detected.
- d2-A metallic smell of gold that, although not inherently pleasant, fills the player with a sense of financial stability and comfort.
- d3-The earthy notes of fine vintage wines and well-tended, rolling green lawns (privately owned, of course).
- d4-The warm smell of fine tobacco and leather, causing the player to imagine that, for a moment, they are sitting in a luxurious office, decked out in mahogany.
“My intention was to make a scent that boosted people’s confidence,” Oliver continues, “if they smell like a million GP, then maybe it would encourage success. Regretfully, smelling like wealth has its drawbacks…”
He points in the direction from which he ran.
“There’s a town up the road that almost bought my entire stock of Goldswägger. Everything was going well…until a band of kobolds showed up, with some weasel creature in tow sniffing out gold. The townsfolk took cover and sent me to find help. I would have been in trouble too if not for the fact that I opted for a lemon and bergamot fragrance for myself today. I find the blend better suited for travel, you see.”
He extends his wrist and offers the party a whiff. If anyone takes him up on the offer, the player will smell a delicious citrusy aroma.
“Will you help? I only wanted to make people’s lives better, and this whole debacle is giving me flashbacks to when I tried selling ‘The Smell of Defeat.’ It nearly destroyed my entire business and livelihood. Of course, this is about more than business now. If we don’t act soon, people’s very lives may be lost.”
If the party agrees, Oliver will lead them to the village.
Sniffing Out the Situation
Upon arriving at the edge of the village, a nearby barrel of water whispers to Oliver.
“You’re back!” it gasps. The lid of the barrel lifts to reveal a nervous villager hiding inside. His entire body is kept submerged in water, most likely in an effort to mask his scent. “That aurumvorax of theirs has such a strong nose,” he continues, “we didn’t know where else to hide but Old Man Hellsing’s place just over yonder.”
If the party chooses to visit Old Man Hellsing’s shack, it’s clear why this was the best hiding spot for the villagers. The interior of the old man’s house is filled with hanging bulbs of garlic. The townsfolk are all uncomfortably bunched inside, holding their noses and gagging on the pungent odor.
“I always knew the vampires would show up one day! You all called me crazy, but it pays to be prepared!” Old Man Hellsing hollers, brandishing his cane in the air triumphantly.
“For the last time,” a woman says, “they aren’t vampires. We just needed a smelly place to hide that would mask our golden scent.”
“Sure, sure,” Old Man Hellsing says, clearly unconvinced. He slowly trudges over to a window, peering through the curtains while casually munching on a handful of garlic cloves. “Vampires…” he says under his breath.
If the party presents themselves as proper heroes and asks for more details, they can learn the following from the various townsfolk gathered in the shack:
- There are 4 kobolds patrolling the town, 3 of them are armed with small crossbows, daggers, etc.
- The 4th kobold has an aurumvorax on a leash and is leading the party, using the mongoose-like creature to sniff out the source of the gold scent.
- The kobolds are working for a red dragon wyrmling that is currently stationed at the opposite end of the town.
As the party approaches the town center, they hear the voices of kobolds over a backdrop of aggressive sniffing/digging of claws in dirt.
“We aren’t finding anything!” one kobold cries out.
“Keep searching!” commands another, “the aurumvorax hasn’t been wrong yet. This town should be drowning in gold given the way it reacted back there. If we need to, we will tear this whole village down, brick by brick, looking for wherever this treasure may be hidden.”
“God forbid we go back to our lord…empty-handed,” yelps another one.
At this point, the party can reveal themselves or wait for the aurumvorax to invariably sniff out any gold coins being carried by the players (unless the players have literally 0 GP to their names, in which case they might remain stealthily hidden for longer).
The kobolds are armed, but they won’t look very confident when your party confronts/challenges them. They are feeling a bit out of their element, having left their burrows. At this point, the party has a few options.
- Bribe them. The kobolds would hate going back to their red dragon lord empty-handed. If the party has enough gold coins (250-500) then the kobolds will happily take the bribe and be on their way. This option saves the town and avoids all combat (albeit at a high monetary cost).
- Intimidate them. If the party takes advantage of the kobolds’ apparent cowardice, they can scare them, causing them to turn tail and run. An intimidation check can be successful with only a 10 DC. However, by doing this, just as Oliver and the wealth-scented villagers start returning to town, the kobolds will return alongside their red dragon wyrmling leader. The dragon is very young, but he’s vicious and will see nothing wrong with engaging with the unarmed townsfolk. After all, he has to amass his fortune and make a name for himself in the dragon community; he’s not about to let anyone stand in his way.
- Reason with them. If the party thought to bring Oliver’s bottle of Goldswägger, then they can try to show the kobolds and explain the misunderstanding. Unfortunately, kobolds aren’t terribly intelligent, so this needs to be an “explain-like-I’m-5” situation. Failing their intelligence check will frustrate the kobolds and trigger combat. Sending them away will still result in the red dragon wyrmling showing up with some kobolds for a battle because he feels his pride has been hurt by this deceptive gold spray. Maybe the wyrmling returns and only demands that the peddler Oliver N. Hale be handed over to him to receive his punishment.
- Fight them. The 3 armed kobolds will attack. The 4th will release its aurumvorax and then turn to flee (to warn the red dragon wyrmling about what’s going on). The aurumvorax will attempt to fight with bites and slashing claw attacks, but it should retreat after taking too much damage by burrowing into the ground.
Defeating the dragon and his kobold crew results in much rejoicing from the town. Oliver N. Hale offers the party his remaining 5 bottles of Goldswägger as a reward (since he clearly needs to tweak the formula). Each bottle has one use and can be utilized in one of two ways:
- Wear it. Dousing oneself in a bottle of Goldswägger grants the wearer advantage on all charisma-based checks (e.g. persuasion) against members of the upper class. This effect remains for 1 hour.
- Throw it. Throwing a bottle like a grenade will cause it to shatter, dousing the target with the Goldswägger scent for 1 hour. All creatures who can smell and are attracted to gold (e.g. dragons, thieves, goblins, etc.) within 60 feet of the shattered bottle will be entranced by the scent and attempt to seek out its source.