The party hears a commotion coming from the local courthouse in [town name here]. If the party investigates, they will find that Oliver N. Hale, chief proprietor of Ye Ol’ Factory, has just been sentenced to a life term in which he must dig a tunnel into the Underdark (the most serious of sentences in [town name]). As he is taken away to the local jail, he continues to cry out that he is innocent, but the jailers continue to drag him away regardless.
As he passes the party, he will plead, “please, I was framed by my rival, Cliff Whiff, you must help me!” An Insight check shows that the man is telling the truth and he was in fact framed.
By talking to bystanders or investigating inside the courtroom, the party will learn the following:
- The town recently enacted a new trial procedure called “The Emanation Proclamation” in which trials are founded solely on smell-based evidence. The town is renowned for their impeccable sense of smell, so His Emanance determined it would be best to put their sniffers to good use.
- The crime: The town’s prize sheep, Nostra-baa-mus was released from his pen in the middle of the night and appears to be lost. Nostrabaamus was known to be clairvoyant and once saved the town from total doom when he predicted the coming of an army of goblins. The town
- The evidence: Traces of Hale’s failed product line “Smell of Defeat” were smelled at Nostrabaamus’s pen, along with a faint odor of failure and dissatisfaction. Smelling nothing else, Hale is the only one who would be caught dead with his abomination of a product and it’s broadly known that he reeks of failure.
- There was some sort of tobacco leaf stuck to Nostrabaamus’s pen lock, but no one paid attention to that.
- There were also tracks leading away from the pen, which if Investigated will prove to be human in nature.
The halfling in charge of Nostrabaamus’s pen is skeptical at best about Hale being the culprit, or even Cliff Whiff for that matter. He notes that he’s seen this sort of disappearance before when he was a shepherd outside of the city walls, before he realized Nostrabaamus’s power and the town gave him a special inside-the-walls home. This is a red herring, but if the party explores this thread it will lead them out of town and into a forest den with a group of owlbears that have a pen full of sheep, each in various stages of nakedness.
The cute docile-looking owlbears are stealing sheep to harvest their wool and knit sweaters. One speaks common and explains that they tried to get traveling merchants or even merchants in town to sell them wool and yarn to knit their sweaters, but they get too spooked and run off. As payment, the owlbears will offer to pay the party a fair price with interest to take back to the townsfolk as payment.
If attacked, the five owlbears will defend themselves, leveraging their knitting needles as makeshift weapons (1d8+4 rapier or javelin). If the party approaches diplomatically, no blood will need to be shed.
Realizing the dead end with the owlbears, the party now needs to determine how they will save OIiver N. Hale from a life of digging into the darkness.
Saved By The Smell
A couple of different options for how the party can assist both the town and Hale. The overall objective is to either prove Hale’s innocence (he is not punished at all) or to return the sheep (punishment is lessened). There is a key prediction that the town needs in order to prepare for an annual festival. They’d like to know if it will rain or note so they can have the festival inside or outside, but need to know soon in order to prepare appropriately.
Option 1 – Be the Sheep
The party could pretend to be the sheep, in whatever way makes sense, but they will have to act as Nostrabaamus once acted and will also have to convince the halfling to not tell anyone. The prediction must then be made about the upcoming festival weather. If the townsfolk sense the ruse (smell alone could give it away!) they will throw the party in a jail cell with Hale.
Option 2 – Find the Sheep
By investigating the tobacco leaf and footprints that are left on the lock and by the pen, the party will be taken out of town and down the road. They will come to a home where, though faint already, the footsteps end.
If the party enters, they will be greeted by 10 bandits who will either try to fight the party or extort them for more money. When fought down to 1 or 2 bandits, the party can get them to talk and explain the situation.
They will reveal that they did in fact take the sheep, but didn’t realize it had prophetic powers. Once captured, Cliff Whiff collected the sheep from them and wandered off. The final bandit will offer to follow his nose to find the two if the party promises to let him go.
Take a Whiff
Following the scent of Cliff and the sheep, the bandit leads the party back into town. The bandit is on all fours, nose inches from the ground, spidering deeper into the burroughs. They eventually arrive at a seedy underground area where the bandit stops and says that’s as far as he’ll go. He explains that it’s a bad part of town and nothing good goes on in there, but is certain that the sheep is inside.
Once the party enters, they are greeted by a terrible odor and a handful of half-orcs.
They are wearing poker visors and sitting around a table. Among them is Cliff Whiff, holding a hand of cards and showing them to Nostrabaamus, whose eyes are completely white. His eyes return, he baa’s, and Cliff plays a card. Cliff chuckles and takes a big draw from his tobacco pipe. The half-orcs groan and throw down their cards, cursing at Cliff.
The sheep makes eye contact with the party and baas deeply at them. Cliff and the half-orcs look up and prepare for battle. Before the fight, Cliff tells the party he took the sheep because he needed to pay back his card-playing debts and the sheep was the only way he could win. Hearing this the half-orcs turn to rip Cliff apart.
A few things to keep in mind:
- The party can take the sheep while the others are distracted, but without additional smell-based evidence, Hale will remain with a reduced sentence
- If the party opts to leave with the sheep, the half-orcs will kill Cliff
- If the party fights the half-orcs, they must also protect Cliff, who will attempt to backstab or escape whenever he has a chance
- There is only one entrance to the card room
I See Ewe
However it happens, the townsfolk will be elated that the sheep has returned. If kept alive to confess, or with smell-based evidence, the party can save Hale. If they save Hale they are awarded a custom perfume that gives a +2 buff to anything when sprayed for a max of 5 sprays, or The Sweet Smell of Victory.