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Harassment - the angry voices of the discontentby Niels Just Rasmussen
[The following ideas can be used in any context, but I have chosen Karameikos as a specific example].
The lone low-level PC either beginning on his "Shearing ceremony" or coming to Specularum/Mirros to establish as a more firm base will enter the bustling city looking for an Inn to eat and sleep and looking for some kind of work. He will probably look forward to see the capital...(poor guy).
If the PC is a woman adjust the insults accordingly, but make it even more obvious what dangers she is in if seen as a Traladaran traitors, Bastard mixed blood or Thyatian. [See later Karameikos section after this adventure for ideas]
Going to an Inn in the poorer part of the City:
If the PC is obviously mixed race or Thyatian (or has appeared to the locals as a Traladaran that betrays their ways - like servicing and talking friendly with some Thyatian in the street as the GM can arrange before he enters the bar) - he will at the Inn see a medium height athletically build guy intently eyeballing him. His eyes are dark and he has long dark hair and is dressed in a dirty black cloak. He is sitting at another table drinking and simply looks at the PC. His eyes has a glint of disdain (and pure hatred). When the PC calls and talks with a waitress he will here some sneers coming from the person in Traladaran. "A pig calls for our girls". [He will start with a simple insults to get the PC's attention, but not let him "blow up" right away - if the PC seem he doesn't understand he will do it again in a Thyatian making the language sound extremely ugly on purpose].
If the PC is not the kind of guy that takes an insult he would probably go to his table. The black-cloaked guy will eyeball him all the way never giving up eye-contact.
If the PC doesn't react all crazy and violent right away and wants to have some dual of honour or in any way talk reason with him he will simply respond: "No I'm not interested in your sexual services, find someone of your own race". [if the PC is Traladaran looking - "find someone like your masters you usually serve that way".
If the PC assaults the guy it is the PC that is up for the criminal court since "Unarmed Assault" is a Class 1 crime, "Lesser Armed Assault" a Class 2 crime and "Greater Armed Assault" (with deadly weapon) is a Class 4 crime and there are tons of witnesses.
The black-cloaked guy will keep insulting him to move away "all that hot air you let out in front probably comes from the wind pressed down into you the other way - must be a "wind" of many form shapes and sizes - wait I was certain I smelled Goblin there for an instance" and so on. The locals will give their cheering support to the black-cloaked guy unless the PC is really witty. Saying something bad against Traladarans will make the whole Inn boo at him some even tossing different kinds of alcohol in his face, but the Black-cloaked guy will be ice-cool all the time. - he has no plan to even get up from his seat and his tone of voice is cold but not loud enough to disturb other guests. The PC can stand there looking increasingly more foolish and with many other in the Inn starting to laugh at home and "begging" him to sit down or go to look for your mom so you can cry in her skits for his own good.
How the PC reacts:
A) If the PC leaves he will see that the black cloaked guy will follow him and will soon to whistling down an alley where another big looking bald fellow dressed in dirty furs will join him. Soon two dirty looking young boys around 14-15 of age will arrive as well.
If he can find an Inn with a window leading to a back-alley he will soon discover it is watched by the 2 men obviously showing themselves. The boys will guard other exists and alert of the PC tries to leave.
B) If the PC tries to wait for the black-cloaked guy to leave so the PC could follow him that wont happen. The blackcloaked guy doesn't have a day-job and have all the patience in the world (he earns his many in other ways) - if the PC asks eventually for a room at the Inn the black-cloaked guy will wait until he has gone up. Then he goes out and whistles to his big bold friend to bring the two boys.
This Inn have rooms on the 1'st and 2'nd floor that turns to the street but no backside as there are other buildings there. It has a small blind alley (kitchen entrance) to the side leading to the street where food is brought in and garbage deposited. If the PC looks out he will see the two patiently waiting outside the Inn still intently eyeballing him and whispering to each other and sardonic laughing. The big guy seems like a total goon denting his club with a dagger while waiting and the black-cloaked guy is clearly the "leader" still with his black cloak around him so it is impossible to see what kind of weaponry he is packing.
C) Loosing the 2 men is difficult. The blackcloaked knows his city in and out and he has informers looking to tip him off about movements. A whistle will come from a window as the PC passes by indicating where he is. If he hides on an alley the group will track him down but not engage - but then the PC stands in an alley. He certainly wont go to sleep there with the men having around!
D) If the PC confront the men by moving closer the two men will start to talk loudly and making people look outside, so again witnesses. They will try to asset how tough the PC are. They will surely defend themselves if attacked but will shout that they are assaulted making people come from the surrounding buildings onto the street. The PC will probably be captured and taken to court for assault if he actually injured the two men. Fleeing from that will again be extraordinarily difficult.
F) The probably shocked PC will probably try to make some kind of game plan when in his Inn room. [On the street he will likely be to pressed by the GM to come up with a more sophisticated plan].
The GM can simply ask if he wants to sleep (ask it in a way, so the player surely will be to paranoid to let his PC do that). During the night have him hear footsteps nearing his door and stopping. If the PC open it and have weapons ready, outside stands the Innkeeper with a tray losing it with shock. When coming to himself he will toss the PC out unless he pays a compensation? If he asks what the Inn keeper was doing he simply states that a friend of yours (big bald fellow) wanted me to check if you were asleep? But since you aren't you can go down while I clean up here.
So it will probably be a long night.
G) Going to the authorities will get him nowhere (unless he is of important Thyatian blood, which means he will have connections that can make sure he gets a job in a good neighborhood, but then he isn't exactly doing a Shearing where he has to be independent). The authorities wants to see written pamphlets before they will start a Slander case. No time for street abuse that is more or less impossible to prove as it ends up being word against word. The black-cloaked guy and the bald guy will just patiently wait outside acting innocent talking about the "weather".
The next day - and next and next.....
If the PC spend the rest of the night in an Inn and often check what the men outside were doing then in the early morning he can see the two men leave (for bed) and the PC can sneak out - sadly he will be followed by other men to where ever the PC is going waiting on him and trying to break his calm and trying to provoke him into trouble. If the PC starts to ignore these attempts they will turn up the harassment (throwing rotten things at him, spitting and so on) to not give him time to sleep and by that breaking him faster [the GM should point out to the player that lack of sleep really starts to affect the PC].
If they sense the PC plans to kill them they will try to make most locals understand he is dangerous - many Inn will simply refuse him, pressuring him to a life on the streets. If he disappears in some dark alley so be it, but they prefer to have him pay fines or been thrown in jail to disrupt his chances of a career in society.
Have him harassed if he finds work - maybe to the point where his employer fires him because he is bad for business. Let him slowly realize its not just a few individuals but a whole Organization that is after him. Whenever he is in public in daylight have the black-cloaked guy or other if his group (even kids) shout abuse after him for all to hear as he becomes more and more infamous in the neighborhood. Most people tend to believe lies that are told again and again by many different persons.
Make the PC know it's not a problem he can fight his way out of. He needs either lots of money to go to a rich neighborhood (so where to get it?) where he can escape it. Flee from the city (very unheroic, but sensible), or do something else that will increase his status among the common people there - but it should be very difficult because of all the lies.
It will also give the PC some real baggage and hatred when he rise in levels and become more and more powerful, that can be used by the GM later in his career. The Veiled Society laying more traps for him or him becoming a fanatically voiced individual of their utter destruction.
The GM can make the stats of the individual harassers according to the danger-level he wants it to be for the PC, but they will generally avoid a real fight unless the can catch the PC with overwhelming numbers in an alley at night (if they start to regard him as having murdering ideas and to avoid witnesses). They will knock him unconscious but not kill him before he rises in level and becomes an obvious danger for them (a mistake by them most likely, but good for the storyline and the PC's chances). To many corpses and disappearing people might provoke a reaction from Stefan Karameikos and the most of the members of these rebellious groups don't feel it's time yet for an uprising - they wait until Stefan Karameikos is weakened by some other pressing matter.
This Plot could alternately be played by a "PC group" against NPC players as they rise from humble slum beginnings up in the Specularum/Mirros underworld and the Veiled Society or Traladaran resistance (or both at the same time).