This event will need to begin at a coastal city (or at least a city near a large lake).
Have your party approached by a well-dressed man who introduces himself simply as “Lord William.” He has a sparkling, winning smile, a firm handshake, and an outfit made of the finest silks. When he approaches you, he offers you tickets to a special music festival that he and other nobles are launching called “Fiyerr Fest.” The opening day of the multi-day event is, coincidentally, tomorrow. Although these tickets are exclusive and usually very, very expensive, the man offers to sell tickets to the entire party at a steep discount (which still shakes out to about 10 gold/piece or whatever else you find to be expensive but still in the budget of your party).
Your group can decide to buy the tickets as requested, pickpocket them from William, or haggle/barter for them. Don’t make these checks really high; at the end of the day, William just wants your party to have given him something for the tickets. When your group reads the tickets, they will see the words “Fiyerr Fest” emblazoned in gilded font alongside a set of instructions, telling the to meet early the next morning at the dock for complimentary champagne and a private ferry ride, via luxurious yacht, to the concert destination.
Attempting to talk to villagers about the upcoming event will not reveal much of anything; they will either say that they have never heard of “Fiyerr Fest” (if they’re commoners) or that this is the first one of its kind (if they are nobles and well-informed on town gossip). Consider having some nobles brag about how they invested money to get the concert off the ground.
When the party arrives, they will see a boat that is definitely not the “luxurious yacht” that was advertised. The captain of the vessel, who is just some haggard old retired sea captain, will explain that your party will be the last group to be ferried over to the island and that they shouldn’t have arrived so late in the morning (it will then be revealed that the tickets all say different start times, alluding to the fact that this is not a well-organized event). After the party boards the boat, they will be given champagne glasses filled with a very sour wine; drinking the wine will result in no enjoyable alcohol-fueled buzz but will give bold party members headaches for the duration of this quest (roll at disadvantage for any perception/investigation checks). After getting seated, the boat will lurch forward with awful grinding noises and begin to journey across the water to a special island.
While on this trip, the party can talk to a few others who are on the boat; they are very pretentious people, a little too well-dressed for what’s supposed to be an outdoor concert, discussing the line-up of visiting bards set to be performing at the event. They are clearly disgusted with the wine but are trying to act like they actually enjoy it (they can even criticize your party for not having very refined palates).
When you arrive on the island, it’s a complete bust. There’s a giant bonfire on the beach and some small tents set up, but that’s about it. Other wealthy/pretentious-looking people are there, looking confused, hungry, angry, etc. Some are in denial and suggest waiting, while others have correctly realized that they’ve all been swindled and robbed of their gold. Returning to the dock will reveal that the man driving the boat is already gone (although he was just hired to make the trips for a few silver pieces, so catching him will show that he knows nothing).
At this point, the party will likely search the island. Such a search will reveal the following:
- A giant bonfire burning on the beach.
- A single cooler (insulated crate) of ham sandwiches.
- A couple of half-built performance stages, leftover scaffolding, etc. Climbing onto any of these fabrications will cause them to collapse.
- An old rowboat, badly damaged and washed up onto the beach (the party can try to repair this boat to get off the island).
- Large stones (the party can choose to write a message and hope for someone flying overhead on a “Broom of Flying” or the like.
- Thick forests/jungles (depending on the climate) that are difficult to traverse. Despite the hopelessness of the situation, the other concert-goers will refuse to travel into this rough terrain with you because they worry that the forests will be “too buggy”.
- In the center of the forest, there is an abandoned watchtower (or, if this is an island in an ocean, you can make this an out-of-service lighthouse on the coast). Inside this structure, the party will find mostly junk left behind from when the building was operational. Inside a desk, they can find a sending stone that is used to communicate to someone on the coast (this is also how they can be rescued). Aside from that, they can find old sea charts/maps indicating where they are exactly and the general layout of the island.
While your party explores the forests/jungles, have them encounter animals/beasts or potential fae, seeking to cause mischief. One of these fae might tell them to get off their island and that they are tired of visitors. Successful persuasion checks reveal that the makeshift stages were set up by a man riding a boat called “The Slippery Eel.” When pressed for a description of the man driving the boat, the fae will provide a similar description to Lord William.
Once your party gets back to town (either by repairing the boat, swimming, using the sending stone for a rescue, teleporting, etc.), they can seek out “The Slippery Eel” docked alongside other boats not far from where they had departed earlier that morning. Knocking on the door, or forcing entry, will reveal the swindling thief “Lord William” who posed as a producer and deceived everyone. The man is drunk on some fancy whiskey (no doubt purchased with some of the stolen funds) and is completely passed out on the bed. A good portion of the gold can still be recovered by searching him/his belongings. The party can choose to return this to the townspeople or keep the gold for themselves.
If they have the thief arrested, the town will award them with the eyesore of a boat: “The Slippery Eel.” As a sea-faring vessel, this could be useful to your party for a bit; it’s a little less helpful if its sitting in a lake. Regardless, after the boat is used for 3 trips, it will begin filling with water and sink to the bottom of whatever body of water it is in. Your party can try to salvage the boat and plug the holes, but this check should be made difficult (consider having 3 sprung leaks and your party needs to think of 3 different and clever solutions to plug them to keep the boat from sinking). Likewise, for fun, you can have the boat spotted by other people who have been swindled by Lord William in the past, looking to dish out some revenge against you thinking that you’re William’s cohorts.