Sir, you are an adventurer from Lakeside Proper, are you not? And you own your own home? Wonderful! As a representative of Berry Bustle, I officially beseech you, a land owner, for aid!
Location Background. Located deep in the Glintwood Forest, Berry Bustle is the largest of the settlements beyond Glintwood Clearing. Found between the beginnings of the extensive cave system along the north wall of the valley and the Misty Ruins in the center, Berry Bustle is known for its annual Bonanza (yes, the Berry Bustle Bonanza). Every year during the first week of Erastil, the population of the town doubles in size as seasonal workers arrive to help the farmers pick berries that are then the focal point of the celebration that takes place the following week. During the second week, the population swells to triple its original size as visitors from all across the forest, even the furthest reaches of the caldera, arrive to partake in the event.
Quest Background. The majority of the farms that supply the town are on land owned by a halfling named Clempsy Bustle Bunch. As the event has grown more popular in the past decade, she has seen such an increase in profits from it that she has begun taking lavish vacations. Two years ago, while she was still away, one of the farms had their crops stolen right off the bush a week before the workers were to arrive. Although that particular farm took a major loss that year, the Bonanza was still a success. Last year, a different, larger farm on the other side of the region was hit, and then a pair of traveling groups from outside the Glintwood were robbed upon the road the days after the event. While Clempsy was still away her deputized estate manager (a halfling named Cliffton Thorny Funston) put together a group of local huntsmen, but were ultimately unable to track down the culprit. This year, with two weeks before the picking week, all the farmers have banded together in an attempt to hire some help in defending their crops while many of those that run events in town are looking for ways to defend their patrons. Unfortunately, Cliffton seems to have gone missing, leading to why the PCs are approached.
Quest Giver. The PCs are approached by an older gentlemen with raven black hair and a hint of a limp. He introduces himself as Frederick Singman, Chair of the Berry Bustle Bonanza Council, and Chief Administrator of the local Temple to Abadar. He outlines the escalating events of the past few years, the absent Clempsy, missing Cliffton, as well as the way in which the PCs can become land owners if they successfully save them from this unknown brigand via the Landlord By-Laws. He provides information about the farms that have been victimized, the stretch of forest road where the robberies took place (a mile long stretch with dense trees on one side and a creek on the other), as well as the location of a camp where the seasonal workers gather to apply for their working permits prior to heading to the farms.
- The Doon Family Berry Farm (1st victim). North of Berry Bustle about 10 miles, a single large farmhouse dominates a clearing surrounded by almost a half a mile of berries. Along one edge of the clearing are a series of pig pens that have small huts built atop them to house the seasonal workers. Investigation of the clearing is mostly useless after two years, but Nature checks can reveal the likely path used to enter the region and leave again without being seen, but also that there is no way this was the work of a lone brigand. If the PCs are threatening or careless, the pigs get restless and stampede out of their pens, destroying them.
- The Zuft Commune (2nd victim). South of Berry Bustle about 6 miles, this series of small farms is roughly a square mile and surrounded by recently constructed wooden palisades. Only one entrance can be seen, at the north east corner. Originally they joined together to simply share the hiring and housing of seasonal workers, but began building a perimeter after they were targeted. While the more recent of the two victims, the palisades make a Nature check harder to learn information but allowing an Engineering check to realize that the locations of the palisades provide good intel on the likely path taken as well as the information that this isn’t the work of a loner. If the PCs are threatening or rude, they are kept out by force and must fight their way through or over the gate to get in.
- The Highway (3rd and 4th). Five miles east of Berry Bustle is a stretch of road almost a mile long that has dense trees along a ridge on the north edge with a low creek along the southern edge. Nature checks point out two viable choke points, one along a small bridge (10 ft. wide and 10 ft. long over a 5 ft. drop) and the other where an overgrown tree has fallen along the ridge where there is a bigger drop into the creek. Engineering checks can also be used to identify these places as likely constructed for the purpose of the robberies. The victims were non-local, residents of Lakeside Proper and The Markets.
- The Worker Camp. Located a mile west of Berry Bustle, this camp is located on the sight of a burnt out farmhouse. Successful Diplomacy or Intimidate reveals the names of a handful of workers from each of the two farms. Subsequent successes reveal that they either saw somebody or claim to know somebody involved in the previous berry thefts. If the party discovers names and was too obvious, loud, threatening, or rude, they are attacked by half a dozen seasonal workers (working for the brigand) that don’t want to be caught.
Quest Progress. Successfully discovering the paths used or the names of some of the thieves enables them to discover the target farm for this year in time to catch the criminals in the act. If they are able to discover both the paths and the names, they are able to discover this information early enough to set a trap ahead of time (takes place the same day/time as the previous years, one week prior to scheduled picking). Discovering the robbery sites along the road allows the PCs to find the next sites early enough to either catch the robbers (or be the victims themselves) in their second act while also knowing the names of some thieves they can catch them the first day (they take place the same days/times as last year). Learning all 3 pieces of information (paths, thieves, robbery sites) allows the party to find the Brigand’s hideout early enough to stop it all while not learning anything means they are only able to piece together the location afterwards.
Quest Resolution. The Berry Bustle Brigand is a simple hedge mage (halfling that calls himself Klake) using his prized ocarina of fey command to summon fairies and pixies to steal berries for him. He then uses charm magic to convince gullible seasonal workers to take his berries into town and sell them for him, as well as to commit the robberies along the road. Successfully capturing Klake to turn over to the authorities allows the PCs to discover that he is in fact Cliffton! If the PCs can prove that they stopped Cliffton, they are then presented with the opportunity to become Landlords. If they happen to stop him before his crimes are committed, the PCs are offered a bonus (in the form of a purse of coins) by Frederick. If they fail to stop or catch him, the targeted farm goes bankrupt and a merchant from Glintwood Clearing is killed during a roadside robbery.
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