As the party walks through the forest, they hear what appears to be an argument. Passing through some trees and into a clearing, they come upon a cozy little cottage with three well-dressed bears standing outside on their hind legs, roaring at a woman in an upper window of the cottage.
The bears continue, “Sad bear noises.” The woman in the cottage looks disgusted and snarls. “I don’t know what you’re saying but you better get off of my lawn!” (heavy emphasis on the word “my”). The bears hang their heads as the blonde woman slams the window shut, disappearing into the dwelling. Turning (or if approached), they see the party and begin to walk toward them.
As they do they wave at the party and one of them begins to shift out of Wild Shape and into Half-Elf form. “Sorry for our rather bear-ish appearances, but my brothers and I are very serious about our work. You see, we are researchers, doing our part to better the ecosystem. In order to do so, we’ve taken on the form of bears and live amongst the animals in the forest, studying how recent expansion of a nearby town is affecting the wildlife. We’re writing a paper for [insert University name here] and return to this cottage in the evening to review and transcribe our notes.”
The other bears nod in agreement. “We came back today to find this woman holed up in our cottage. She’s locked and barred all the doors and windows, preventing us from entering and keeps shouting about ‘SQUATTERS RIGHTS,’ though we’re not quite sure what she means.”
One of the bears grunts and points at some singed hair on his shoulder. “Right, right, she also cast a fireball at us and scorched my brother Irvine!” Irvine makes another sad bear noise and licks his shoulder.
“Please, we don’t care so much about our home, but we’re worried she’ll burn up our research! You must retrieve it for us. If you can we’d be happy to share some of the gold we’re expecting from the University.”
DMs Note: You can adjust the reward to something that makes more sense for your game, or add whatever amount of gold you feel is reasonable based on what’s been doled out in the past.
Three Bears (Male Half-Elf Druids – Lawful Good) – three low-level Circle of the Shepherd Druids, all of which are scholars focusing on their bear forms and its effects on the local wildlife. Their research is in their home and they are freaking out, worried that this strange woman in their home will steal their research or worse.
Their research is imperative for stopping the town expansion and forcing the woodland creatures out of their homes.
Goldilocks (Female Human Sorcerer – Lawful Evil) – Level 5 Sorcerer and expert litigator who was cast out by the nearby town for actively turning humans into rats. The cottage was the first home she saw that was uninhabited, so she is invoking “squatters rights.” In all things she will argue until she sees she is unlikely to win, in which case she turns to her sorcery. She relies on her fire magic to force conversations in her direction and does not care at all about the cottage she is now inhabiting.
Her main motivation is watching out for herself and getting as much gp as possible so she can retire to some coastal town. There is definitely a scenario where the party convinces her to litigate on behalf of the bear brothers against the town, but it will have to be an extremely convincing argument. Money alone will not be enough to persuade her.
If the party approaches the home without stealth: Goldilocks will immediately go on the defensive, attacking from windows to keep them away.
If the party enters the home stealthily: the party will be able to have a conversation with Goldilocks if desired. If she is surprised she will be on the defensive, but ask what the party is doing in her home.
If the party chooses to talk with Goldilocks: Goldilocks (or “Goldie” as her friends call her) will attempt to convince the party that she has done nothing wrong, playing the victim at any angle, citing the Realm’s Squatting policy saying “they can’t prove I didn’t live here previously, so I’m free to stay.”
She will attempt to convince the party to side with her and keep the “awful” bears away because animals shouldn’t be allowed to live in homes. She’s been on a tear in the nearby town for the local repossession companies turning folks into rats in order to impose the “no animals allowed” policies. She offers the party 500gp and keys to the cottage if they choose to stick with her.
The longer the party appears to side with the three brothers, the more agitated Goldilocks will become, eventually casting a fireball in the home and setting the floor they are on ablaze.
If the house is set on fire: The entire cottage is made of extremely flammable material, and the books and papers scattered throughout make it easy for the whole dwelling to burn. The party will have 5 rounds from the time the fire begins to get the research and get out before they start taking 1d8 fire damage.
The research itself is on the second floor sitting on top of a desk. Each round the fire spreads further, so DMs discretion on how quickly the flames would get to the research itself.
As the fire spreads, the three brothers will begin to make bear yelling noises, but won’t be able to assist in any of the retrieval.
There are a lot of different directions this one could go, so let us know what your party ends up doing!