Monday, September 5, 2011

SoSA the 4th: In Soviet Union, Lock Picks You

This is post 4 out of 25 in the Cygnus Series of a September of Short Adventures.

This one picks up where the last one left off. It works best if there is at least one PC thief or rogue (whether it's run as a separate class or not) in the party.

One of the PCs' friends, whom here we'll assume is a female fortune teller named Rosa Patrina, was accused of a heinous crime, and the PCs had to rush back to town to see what they could do to help. When they get there, they learn that she was accused of stealing the toolkit of a local high-end tinker, who also makes jewelry. The messenger may have miscommunicated her sentence: no, she won't be executed at dusk today -- it's "merely" that they'll have to chop her hands off for stealing.

If the PCs get to talk with Rosa, she will honestly protest her innocence. She had never seen those tools before they wound up in her bag in the marketplace. And what would a gypsy fortune teller need with such strange little hooks and picks, all lined up in that folded leather pouch, anyway?  Upon hearing about the "hooks and picks," any PC thieves may realize what she's really talking about:

The toolkit in question is a very special set of Thieves Tools, The Hands of Reynard. There are 7 shiny blue metallic tools that can be used as standard thieves tools, but they each have other magical powers that roguish, sneaky scoundrels may find helpful:
  • The Skeleton Key: a key with teeth and notches that move when pressed with the fingers, but remain fixed when put into a lock. If held, it conveys a magical bonus to lockpicking (whether or not it's actually being used in the lock).
  • The Tongue of Silence: an L-shaped tongue wrench, used to hold picked lock pins in place while another tool probes. If held, it conveys a magical bonus to moving silently.
  • The Skyhooks: two hook-shaped picks. If held in each hand, they can be used to magically climb sheer walls.
  • The Cutpurse: a short lock pick with a sharp diamond-shaped head (virtually a scalpel). If held on one's person, it conveys a magical bonus to picking pockets.
  • The Serpent's Rake: a snake-headed rake tool used to pick locks. If held, it conveys a magical bonus to hiding in shadows.
  • The Backsaw: a short, pointed hand-saw. Acts as a dagger with a magical bonus for backstabbing.
The magnitude of the bonuses should be worked out by the enterprising DM. The brown leather case that holds the tools has the Latin phrase "SICUT FUR IN NOCTE" stitched on its surface, and is otherwise unmagical.

In addition, the tools are partly sentient. Their power over the person who holds them depends on how many tools in the set are together:
  • One tool by itself has its own magical bonus to thieving, but no other power.
  • Two tools together start planting a mild desire in the holder to find more of the tools.
  • Three of them exert the equivalent of a charm person spell on the holder, which for a brief time will impel him or her to do what can be done to find the other tools. Also, three or more tools together can begin to blink themselves over short distances so they can deposit themselves onto the person of someone who can help them.
  • Four of them exert the equivalent of a suggestion spell, which more strongly impels the holder to find the other tools.
  • Five of them combine the above suggestion spell with a sporadic ability to locate object (only for the other tools).
  • Six of the tools inflict the equivalent of a geas on the holder, whom is now urged very strongly to find the seventh tool to complete the set.
Once all seven are brought together, the person holding them has to save vs. spells or else be totally possessed by the spirit of Reynard of Mercer, a master thief from a generation ago who was cursed by a wizard (when, of course, he was caught trying to steal from the wizard's lair), and his spirit split into pieces and imprisoned in these tools. If brought back to life in a new body, Reynard will attempt to pick up the pieces of his old life, but find that just about everyone he knew is now dead or old and infirm. He may resume his thieving career as well.

The tools chose Rosa because she is a bit of a swindler, and because she knows the PCs (among whom is a talented thief who may just be the "host" with the best chance of reassembling the full set and bringing Reynard back to life). There were 3 tools in the pouch when they blinked into Rosa's bag: the Cutpurse, the Tongue of Silence, and the Serpent's Rake. They were taken from her by the constables before she could be properly influenced by them.

A little digging by the PCs should reveal that the local tinker, who owned the tools before they blinked away to Rosa, is himself a 4th level thief. (His side-business of jewelry "making" is actually a fencing operation.) His high constitution made him particularly resistant to the persuasive effects of the set of 3 tools, so they began looking elsewhere.

The story of the Hands of Reynard may already be known to the PC thief; otherwise there may be a local sage, knowledgeable bartender, or other NPC who can tell them about these artifacts (if given their description). Of course, if the PC thief ends up with the tools, it may be a while before its effects begin to influence his or her behavior....

Apologies for the punny title.


  1. Good stuff, and the sentience is excellence in my book. No need to apologise either - punny titles are where it's at..!

  2. Awesome... Grab your Lirpa and Ahn-Voon for today's title! :-)

  3. Lockpicking is important skill set for such people. People can open locked chests and doors without any damage.Some people enjoy picking a lock recreationally, which may be referred to as locksport