In this short adventure, the group of courageous adventurers must help Francine Delacour rescue her son, Frank Jr. He is a prisoner in The Slaughterhouse, a fighting pit and arena. He was kidnapped and he is going to be forced to fight to the death unless someone stops the massacre. The heroes must participate in the arena to be able to help Frank Jr. The encounters and treasure below are balanced for a party of 4-6 level 3 characters.
The Slaughterhouse is an illegal fighting arena. Lord Blosty is a self-proclaimed lord and the owner of the clandestine pit. He is the kingpin of the criminal underworld in the vast city of Galawa. He is the mastermind behind all the fights and contests in The Slaughterhouse.
Its modus operandi is quite simple. Lord Blosty’s bookie, Dirty Smith, is in charge of practical operations. His plethora of goons and hired muscle kidnap random people and citizens. They usually target people that know too much, snitches, bums and beggars, and other kinds of folk who are certain to not be missed. These shall be imprisoned until they are scheduled to fight.
Lord Blosty has strong and important contacts everywhere. He bought most of the bureaucrats in Galawa, and half the city guard is under his payroll. Hence, Slaughterhouse is immune to the justice system. Wealthy citizens and bourgeoisie attend the bloody spectacles in the arena. Their gold and wealth have bought them everything they could dream of, so they have nothing else to do with their money than to satisfy their dark, inner, morbid curiosity.
Dirty Smith is also in charge of finding fighters. These men are heartless mercenaries who have no honor. They get paid for slaughtering unable contenders. The prisoners are never a match to the experienced swordsmen, so the bets are about how long the victim shall last, or how many hits can the contender take before dropping lifeless on the floor. It is not a show for weak stomachs.
A Missing Young Boy
Francine Delacour’s son, Frankie Jr., has been kidnapped. The young man is a good for nothing who only causes turmoil and stress to his poor mother. Francine is a single mother and she works hard every day to make ends meet. Her fatherless son has always meddled in fishy and dangerous business. He messed with the wrong people and Dirty Smith ordered some of his goons to deal with the boy. The scared young man is a prisoner at the slaughterhouse and it is only a matter of time before he fights.
The Delacour is a powerful family in the city. They are aware of the Slaughterhouse existence but only a couple of them have attended the atrocious events. Francine is certain that her son was kidnapped by Dirty Smith after she received a horrible note. Frankie is hated by all his family, so she knows she cannot count on them to help her. She plans to hire a group of adventurers and ask them to participate as fighters in the arena. She believes that with a bit of luck, they might be put up against Frankie, her son. In that case, they could rescue him.
She posts messages around the city to draw the attention of a group of adventurers. Francine can pay 50 gold pieces to each of the brave heroes once they bring her son back safe and sound. She tells them about the Hairy Boar, the tavern where they can find Dirty Smith and enroll as fighters. She assures them that they can earn some extra gold since they would also be providing a service to the arena. She also asks the adventurers to stick to the plan. If they try to threaten Dirty Smith or mess around with him in the tavern it could ruin the plan and risk Frankie’s life.
Dirty Smith is surrounded by a score of thugs and goons at the Hairy Boar. He is the only one who doesn’t have a drink. He smokes a pipe and reads his notes and logs. He introduces himself when he meets the heroes and accepts their proposal to fight. He explains how things work in the arena and makes emphasis on a couple of rules:
- Hired fighters usually fight on a weekend, when The Slaughterhouse’s cells are full.
- They get paid according to how many contenders they vanquish.
- They also get to decide when to stop, as long as it isn’t during a fight.
- They usually handle one-on-one fights but sometimes parties of fighters clash against each other in a bloody spectacle.
Dirty Smith offers 10 gold pieces per elimination and 5 additional gold pieces for beheadings and other gory ways to kill. He asks them to put up a good show and suggests them to fight until the final round if they want to earn the full pay, otherwise, they shall get a portion of it. Since they are a group, they are certain to fight a minimum of three rounds. A successful DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check allows a character to convince Dirty Smith to pay half their wage in advance.
If questions about the prisoners start to be asked Dirty Smith gets uncomfortable and says he doesn’t deal with snitches and spies. Fighters shouldn’t be afraid or curious about who they fight since they always win. He tells them to do their job and shut their mouths or leave.
Dirty Smith, the Bookie
Chaotic evil dwarf (age 213)
Dirty Smith has a fine beard and he trims it with fine precision. He looks neat and his eyes are always looking around. He has a deep voice and he has a jovial character when it suits him. He is clever to make business and he has a quick mind. He has kept his current position at the Slaughterhouse since it opened, Lord Blosty counts on Dirty Smith to run things smoothly and he does so.
Personality Trait. “If it provides gold, it is good.”
Ideal. “One day the arena shall be the fighting pit of the greatest gladiators and not simple bums.”
Bond. “I must always keep an eye on the arena.”
Flaw. “I always follow the protocol and that makes me miss good business opportunities.”
Neutral good half-elf (age 47)
Francine has long light brown hair. Her blue eyes match her light blue and green fancy robes. She wears a couple of bracelets and other jewelry pieces. Her face has a soft brown color and she has sophisticated features. Her voice is soft and melodic. She is worried sick when she speaks to the adventurers. Her eyes are puffy, evidence of her hours spent crying, though her cheeks maintain their rosy glow.
Personality Trait. “I cannot ever abandon my blood.”
Ideal. “I wish my son would change for the better, for the sake of our family.”
Bond. “Trying to change my son is my life mission, I know there is good in him.”
Flaw. “I’m so obsessed with taking care of my son that I spoil him.”
The adventurers enter the arena from the Alternate Entrance (area 3). They are instructed to wait in the Fighters’ Vestibule (area 7) until it is time for their presentation and fight. When the heroes hear their names called, they must exit the vestibule and enter the arena (area 6). It is the heroes’ choice to wait until the event begins or to sneak out of the vestibule.
The following encounters are the three rounds of battles that the adventurers were hired to fight. Frank Jr. is part of the second batch of prisoners. It is the heroes’ choice to abandon the fight from the first round or go through it. It is also the adventurers’ choice to attack the prisoners with full force or to avoid lethal blows.
Encounter 1. The adventures are faced with five poorly armed men. They have the stats of a guard with the following changes: reduce their Hit Points by half and change their Armor Class to 14 since they aren’t wearing any shields.
If the adventurers are through the first round, four of the employees in The Slaughterhouse come and shove the corpses aside and pile them up near the north wall. There is a small break of 5 to 10 minutes while the second batch of prisoners is brought to the pit. The heroes are asked to wait in the vestibule once more. If none of the prisoners is killed in a bloody manner the public starts to boo and throw stuff at the heroes when they come back for the second round.
Encounter 2. The adventures must fight the second group of prisoners. Frank Jr. is part of the five more men that enter the arena. Frank pisses himself when he sees the bodies from the other prisoners piled up and starts to cry for his life. There are four men (guards) with Frank Jr. (commoner).
If the adventurers are through the second round, Frank Jr. is either dead or unconscious. At this point, the public is restless and demands blood to be spilled. The heroes are ordered to behead one of the bodies. The Slaughterhouse men pick Frank’s body from the pile and place it in front of the heroes. This is the point of no return for the adventurers and they must figure their way out of here with Frank alive.
If the adventurers abandon their job in front of the crowd and Lord Blosty, he orders his men to arrest and imprison them in the dungeon. The four scouts in the stands (area 4) shoot their bows to the traitors. If the heroes turn out to be a threat, the public goes wild and runs to the exit while Dirty Smith and Lord Blosty are escorted outside by their two bodyguards (veterans) through the alternate entrance (area 3).
Encounter 3. Five more prisoners are waiting in their cells. They are to be called for the third and last round of combat. However, depending on the outcome of round two, these five prisoners might still be locked in their cells or waiting in the Prisoners’ Vestibule (area 8). If for any reason this battle occurs, the five men (guards) are as poorly armed like the rest.
The following descriptions of areas 1 through 12 correspond to The Slaughterhouse.
Terrain. The Slaughterhouse is divided into three main levels. The upper level features clean fancy stone tiles. The pit’s sand is rough and it contains small pebbles. The lower level is the prisoners’ area. The stone tiles here are dusty and unclean. They also show marks of erosion and wear.
Doors. The wooden doors in the arena all have standard quality locks. A character using thieves’ tools can pick their locks with a successful DC 14 Dexterity check. The cell doors and barred door have better locks that require a successful DC 17 Dexterity check to bypass.
Light. Sconces on the walls illuminate all the arena. The guards and employees of the arena make sure that all areas all always well lit.
Smells and Sounds. The upper level of the arena smells of rich people. Dozens and dozens of high-class society members come every week. There is a constant coming and going of perfumes and exotic fragrances so they have created a sort of permanent sweet floral odor in Lobby and the Antechamber (areas 1 and 2).
The depth and grasp of The Slaughterhouse’s administration can be perceived at the very entrance. Two bouncers (guards) guard the main door and two more (guards) stand guard at the opposite side, at the antechamber’s entrance (area 2). A man wearing spectacles welcomes all visitors, he spends his day making notations at the visitors’ log. A fancy feather pen and a small pile of wax-sealed scrolls decorate the varnished counter. A passive Perception score of 14 or higher reveals that his fancy clothes hide a leather armor beneath, and his puffy pants a sword’s scabbard. The host (thug) that can take good of himself.
Treasure. If the adventurers have the time to loot the bodies and search the receptionist desk, they find several scrolls of expensive paper (15) gp, a couple of silver rings (25) gp, and some gold from the entries (250) gp.
The narrow corridor after the golden-framed double door takes to the only two doors to enter the stands. To the west, there is a locked door that takes to area 3. A bouncer (guard) stands guard at each entry spot.
3. Alternate Entrance
This is the side entrance to The Slaughterhouse. A guard stands guard outside this door at all times. And there is another guard at the door that takes to the Antechamber (area 2). Hired fighters and other employees of the place use this door to avoid disturbing the guests in the Lobby with their presence.
Treasure. If the adventurers have the time to loot the bodies of these guards, they have 12 gold pieces.
The stands can hold up to a hundred guests. The southernmost section of the stands is reserved for Lord Blosty, Dirty Smith, and their entourage. The stands are guarded at all times by four scouts. They are posted at each corner of the stands. Lord Blosty’s pair of personal bodyguards (veterans) never leave their boss’s side.
Treasure. If somehow the adventurers defeat Lord Blosty’s bodyguards and manage to stop him and Dirty Smith, they beg for their lives and give the adventurers everything they have on them at the moment. The bookie holds 350 gold pieces that belong to the day’s bets. They also have an old silk hat (25 gp), a fur ribbon (10 gp), a gilded flask for wine (15 gp), a fancy fur cloak with alabaster clasps (75 gp), an ornate soapstone ring, set with a banded agate (40 gp).
In case Lord Blosty is alive or conscious, he swears to take vengeance on the heroes. He tells them they’d better leave Galawa fast, otherwise, they shall become fodder for the next Slaughterhouse show.
These stairs are never used by the prisoners. To verify both fighters and prisoners follow procedure, there is a thug in each of the landings of the stairs. They must inform any kind of abnormal activity and impede the prisoners or fighters from escaping or ditching the job.
The dimensions of the pit are enough for 5 to 5 battles (40 ft. wide and 30 ft. long). The thick grains of sand in the pit hurt those who enter barefooted. Numerous portions of the sand are blood stained. Blood dries for days and nobody ever cares to wash it off.
The walls of the pit are almost impossible to climb. They are 50 feet high and the large bricks with which it is made were sanded to make them smooth. Even so, a successful DC 20 Strength (Athletics) check allows a character to climb the wall.
7. Fighters’ Vestibule
This small room has the same quality flooring as the upper level. There are a couple of chairs and a large bench to rest while waiting to be called for the battle. A small table features a pitcher of water and five mugs along with some cheap appetizers.
8. Prisoners’ Vestibule
This room has sand on the floor. The Slaughterhouse’s employees sweep the Fighter’s Vestibule but not this one. The weapon rack on the east wall is a joke to any weapon wielder. The weapons and armor displayed are old, rusty, and poor-quality. These are the only choices the prisoners have when they are thrown to the pit to fight for their lives.
There are eight identical cells in the Slaughterhouse. The cells are large enough to hold up to two people without any crowding problem. However, Dirty Smith sometimes goes as far as to have four people in each cell. Only the leader of the guards of the lower level has keys to open the cells.
These two long corridors meet in the center of the lower level in the dining room (area 11). A group of four guards patrols this area.
11. Dining Room
The prisoners eat here. They make their food in the kitchens (area 12) and are allowed a time to eat. The leader of the cells’ guards (bandit leader) spends his time sitting down in here. He sometimes plays cards with the guards on the large tables. He helps his men if he hears any problem going on in the corridors.
Treasure. If the adventurers have the time to loot the bodies of the bandit leader and the rest of the guards in the hallways (area 10), they find 36 gold pieces among all of them.
The prisoners use this area once a day when they are allowed to eat. They have about an hour to cook their meal of the day and eat it. The kitchens are nothing to be proud of. They lack the most basic cooking tools. The prisoners do what they can with what they are given. At least they can eat.
Outcomes. Whatever the adventurers do to escape the Slaughterhouse without being caught is their choice. They can of course go out of their way and try to save more people, or even stop or murder Lord Blosty. But their mission is to save Frank Jr. and Francine must see her son safe to complete her part of the deal.
If the adventurers bring Frank Jr. safe back home, Francine pays the agreed-upon amount of gold and thanks them deeply. If the heroes rescue more prisoners, these men run to different directions when they are freed. Francine tells them that Lord Blosty is a vile man. She plans to move and leave Galawa forever since sooner or later they shall come looking for Frank Jr. again. She suggests the heroes do the same.
If by any chance the heroes could defeat Lord Blosty’s bodyguards and all of The Slaughterhouse’s guards, they become a target. The more so if they kill Lord Blosty. None of the rich people that attend the events take it lightly if their sick entertainment is taken away from them. Plus, half the city guard shall miss Lord Blosty’s gold on their paycheck, so they would be very interested in knowing who put an end to his reign of terror.
If the heroes fail to save Frank, Francine bursts into tears in front of the heroes after they tell her the sad news. She ignores any comment about the payment and continues crying and sobbing while trying to speak and say something. She manages to say the words: “useless, bastards, murderers, my boy, and why?” before shutting her door. In this scenario, the adventurers are in danger if they stay in Galawa for too long, but this time Francine doesn’t tell them about this. Lord Blosty and Dirty Smith find the adventurers and try to imprison them once more three days after their failure.
The heroes could not only fail but be imprisoned by Lord Blosty for a future fighting pit event. If this happens, the heroes’ next mission shall be to come up with a prison break plan.