There's a charismatic man, call him Humble Pymander, who comes to town claiming to be able to teach people how to access cleric spells like heal, bless, etc., but without needing to be a cleric in thrall to some capricious deity. He's a swindler, of course. However much popularity he garners amongst the rubes, the local clerics may have a thing or two to say about this person cutting in on their territory!
The PCs can encounter Pymander in several ways. They can "randomly" come upon his revival tent and attend a performance. Or, in a tavern or inn, Pymander may approach the PCs and ask for their services, telling them his life is in danger: "Protect me from those clerics!"
The revival performance is a classic medicine show, with musical entertainments and success-story testimonials punctuating the hard-sell from Pymander himself. The climax occurs when the clients (who have paid dearly for the opportunity) line up and get a special two-handed hand-clasp from Pymander, which supposedly transfers the power to them. From then on, it's claimed, they will have the ability to heal and bless, as well as repel the undead, just like the most powerful clerics of yore.
How does he do it? Pymander once had access to a powerful artifact that gave him the knowledge to create a new alchemical potion. This viscous, clear liquid is an arcane combination of three ingredients:
- two parts Potion of Extra Healing (for the healing oomph),
- one part Keoghtom's Ointment (for the power do it via touch), and
- three parts Potion of Human Control (to transfer the benefits to others).
Pymander also claims that his power transference gives people the power to turn undead. Once per visit to a new town, he takes his star students out to a graveyard late at night to test their new abilities. Of course, he has accomplices dressed up as zombies and wights, who bust their way out of shallow graves, attack, then act appropriately frightened when the rubes "turn" them.
Some events that may spur some interesting PC activities include:
- The PCs will learn about the limited duration of Pymander's transference of healing powers. If Pymander is ever confronted about it, he will claim the person must not have been concentrating hard enough. THEN he will begin preparing to skip town as soon as possible!
- Pymander has a couple of hulking, 18-strength goons that travel with him for protection. They will be quick to lean on anyone that comes backstage looking for the man in charge. Pymander also hired a few local 1st-level fighters for additional security, but these have low morale.
- Given sufficient advance advertising, clerics of all local denominations will certainly send agents into the audience to investigate what's going on.
- Clerics of some of the more chaotic deities may also sneak around backstage... and attempt to kidnap Pymander to wrest his secrets from him. This is one reason that he's got the goon squad on high alert.
Proclaiming Pymander's secrets to the public is likely NOT to convince his most devoted followers of the truth. They will jump through hoops to legitimize his actions, and they may attack anyone who sullies his exalted name.