While walking through town, the party sees a crowd gathered around a small platform. On that stage is an undead, juggling what looks like a collection of golden goose eggs. They catch the sunlight, sparkling with a majestic beauty.
“That’s right, ladies and gentleman,” the undead exclaims, “I have seen the future, and the future is Eggereum (EGG)! Trust an undead like me: nations rise and fall, currency loses its value in an instant. By purchasing these golden eggs, you can ensure your financial security forever! So, who would like an egg?”
A few townsfolk advance to the stage, exchanging at a rate of 5 GP for each golden goose egg. It’s apparent that, for some of these hopefuls, 5 GP might very well be their entire life savings that they’re trading away.
“Tell us the story again, Crypto Keeper!” shouts someone in the crowd.
“Yeah! The story!” hollers another.
While the Crypto Keeper continues to make transactions, he tells them the following story with effortless delivery (clearly, he has presented this story many times before): “In life, I ventured to some of the most dangerous places on the continent. One such place was a cloud giant’s castle, sitting high in the sky. I was young and ambitious then. I scaled a mountain and entered the giant’s lair, stealing its magic goose that laid fabled golden eggs. Golden eggs, ladies and gentlemen, that you can be the proud owners of this very day. Come one, come all! Turn your GP into EGG!”
The Crypto Keeper is very busy selling his Eggereum, throwing the satchels of gold into a chest and passing out golden eggs to the excited townsfolk. The players can make a purchase themselves. The golden egg is the same size as a typical goose egg and, surprisingly, weighs the same. Scratching the surface with a blade will cause the gold coating to flake, revealing that the eggs are only gold plated/painted and noting more.
When the Crypto Keeper has sold his stock, he says, “that’s all for today, folks! Give the goose some time, and I will return with a new batch. Until then, tuck your Eggereum someplace safe and continue saving your gold pieces. You don’t want to be the only one in town who missed out on this incredible opportunity, do you?”
At this point, the Crypto Keeper will close and lock his chest of ill-gotten GP and load it into a cart. He jumps onto his horse’s back, and begins to trot out of the city, pulling the cart behind him.
If the party sees through the undead’s scheme (either by chipping off paint or seeing the lunacy of the Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-inspired fable), they may choose to follow him.
The Crypto Keeper advances down the road a bit before turning and heading into the forest. The party can complete stealth rolls to follow closely without being detected. If they are detected, players can relieve suspicion by asking to purchase a golden egg (he’s currently sold out, remember, but he’s more than happy to accept preorders).
Alternatively, the party can keep their distance and use survival/nature checks to track the path made by the cart through the forest.
Eventually, the forest opens to a clearing where there is a small, abandoned cabin beside a gently flowing stream. Geese wander the property and will honk in alarm if players disturb them.
Investigating the geese with a nature check reveals that they are, as probably expected, standard geese and not some special species swiped from a cloud giant’s castle.
The Crypto Keeper will enter the cabin and, as seen above, stash the collected GP in the hidden stone chamber. The party can, of course, stealthily try to steal back the GP and nobly return it to the townsfolk.
There are 2 other undead on the property but, unlike the Crypto Keeper who has charm and personality, these zombies appear to be just mindless thralls: one is feeding geese, and the other, inside the main chamber of the cabin, is melting down some of the gold to then dip/plate goose eggs.
If the party gets detected or approached by the Crypto Keeper, the undead salesman will first try to talk his way out of trouble, claiming that his business is not shady in any way and that he is not swindling the townsfolk of [city name].
If the party remains adamant, then he will elaborate.
“You don’t understand,” he says, his voice getting a little choked up. “My family…we lived out here in the woods together, but then bandits attacked us and…well…we didn’t stand a chance. Fortunately, a necromancer wandered by and brought me back to life as this…thing.” He gestures to his rotten flesh and exposed bones.
“He has offered to help me out even more,” the Crypto Keeper continues, “If I could acquire enough gold, he promised to resurrect my family for real. He gave me the idea for Eggereum and offered me these two zombie companions to help gather and make the golden eggs.”
The Crypto Keeper falls to his knees in desperate pleading. “Please. I will never be anything more than this…monster…but maybe I can help my beloved family get their flesh-and-blood bodies back. Another chance at a rich, full life.” Some tears awkwardly pour from his empty socket eyes. “This last trip to the city gave me just enough to pay the necromancer. If you let me keep this gold and resurrect my family, then I promise to leave the townsfolk alone from now on.”
Bone of Contention
The party is, or at least seems to be, faced with a moral dilemma:
- Allow the Crypto Keeper to keep his ill-gotten funds and complete the necromancer’s ritual.
- Stop him, thereby triggering a battle with the Crypto Keeper, 2 zombies, and possibly assorted geese.
If the party is suspicious, they may choose to investigate the property. Inside the main room are three coffins that are sealed shut; the Crypto Keeper claims that these belong to his wife, little daughter, and little son. He won’t let you open them.
If the party stealthily pries them open anyway, they will discover three adult male corpses dressed in typical bandit attire; in fact, the Crypto Keeper’s story was just another lie. He is actually a thief and is attempting to resurrect his fallen comrades. You, as DM, can also have a journal tucked away somewhere in the cabin for an alternative means of discovering that the Crypto Keeper is (or was) part of a band of thieves.
Revealing your discovery will trigger the combat noted above: Crypto Keeper, 2 zombies, geese.
If you allow the Crypto Keeper to go through with the ritual, he will psychically call upon the necromancer, prompting him to appear almost instantaneously. The necromancer is not directly evil or looking for a fight (in fact, he will teleport away if a battle breaks out). He’s just trying to earn a living like everybody else.
After the necromancer receives the GP as payment, he will cast resurrection. In an hour, the three coffins will burst open, revealing 3 bandits.
Roll initiative. This time, the party will have their hands full with fighting: The Crypto Keeper, 2 zombies, and 3 revived bandits (note that freshly resurrected creatures have a -4 penalty to attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks). The necromancer vanishes.
If your party defeats the Crypto Keeper and thwarts his insidious plans, they will receive the undead’s weapon called the Block Chain Flail.
This weapon deals 1d8+1 bludgeoning damage and has a reach of 10 feet.
It has a special ability called “Decentralization.” An ally can snap their fingers as a bonus action and, provided that the current holder of the item is willing, the Block Chain Flail will teleport into the hands of their ally, granting them the opportunity to attack with the weapon.
If the necromancer hasn’t teleported away with the gold, the party can also choose to keep the GP for themselves or return it to every townsperson who bought Eggereum (depending on players’ moral alignments).