Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Whale Docks

The Whale Docks in Wizard City Hexcrawl are typically the first stop for newcomers to the metropolis. The River Third is a deep salty estuary backed up by mismanaged engineering and environmental wizardry: full of exiled whales and experimental run-off - a dumping ground for all sorts.

Numerous opportunists plague the docks: whale-watchers (and counter-watcher whales), blubber thieves, drowned wizards, telekinetic gangsters, fraudulent well-wishers, cargo cult con men, belligerent bureaucrats, secret police informants, scabs-in-waiting, and dubious employers.

We shall focus on the last of these, for potential jobs and quests.

1. The Whale Corpse
(Big Problem)

A rapidly decomposing whale corpse has beached itself upstream of the docks. The Port Authority headed by Nibly Shanks, a stout pencil-pusher with a penchant for prestidigitation needs someone to get rid of it before it explodes. Normally they'd handle it in-house, but they've already surpassed allotted overtime payments for telekinetic crane-operators.

Rewards (Pick One):
  • Woodworker's Alliance-funded scholarship for one person (catch: ties person to organization - they can rescind it if they don't like your behavior)
  • Three "Smart-Pistols" (Magic Missile wands) with 2d4 charges remaining each.
  • 500gp
Complications: It's heavy, huge, and gut-retching from the smell. The longer it sits, the larger a bomb it becomes. Nobody wants to go near that thing, except for a very persistent necromancer calling himself Ill Intentions Jr.. Nearby householders are anxiously in denial about the possibility of cataclysmic explosion.

2. Issue Subpoenas
(Fetch Quest)

Ill Intentions Sr., wealthy homeowner, has recently constructed a form of walking house that went on an uncontrolled rampage through several city districts. He wants to 'sue the vandals that have damaged his property'.  To do so, he needs some subpoenas delivered. Signatures for proof of delivery are expected (but between you and me, nobody's going to look too closely at them).

Rewards (Pick One):
  • 100gp per valid signature
  • 5% of the settlement money. (Arrives in 1 year, but 400gp per valid signature)
Complications: Obviously, these 'vandals' aren't going to be too happy that the guy who made the thing that wrecked their homes has the gall to sue them for damages. Also, at least one of these victims is a wizard gangster.

3. Fresh New Meats Needed

Gorbo Morlock, purveyor of "Gourmet Meats" on Food Street needs fresh kinds of 'new' meats for his food cart. He'll pay by the pound for any meat you bring in. No human flesh! He suggests going to The Drain.

  • 1gp per pound of novel meat.
  • 1gp per 10 pounds of non-novel meat.
  • Free Lunch for every batch brought in.
Complications: Obviously, meat is either pricey or dangerous. It's a meat-eat-meat world out there.

Solutions: Go hunting in The Drain. Dumpster Diving by Le Restaurant Tranquille. Hit up the Sisterhood of the Cell for their 'rejects'. Go dungeoneering and pick up anything you kill.

4. Test Home Security Measures

Nibby Urgo needs some vagabonds to test the security measures on his new summer home, Urgo Manor. You can keep anything you steal from the place, provided you give him notes on the break-in so he can patch up security flaws.

  • You keep what you steal. It's yours!
Complications: You weren't the only group contracted for this job. A wizard gang is acting as your competition. The estate itself is full of magical traps, some of them potentially deadly. Also, it's in a rich district, so there are police checkpoints around the hex.

  • Pressure plates in basement cause flooding followed by electrocution.
  • Open window on second floor leads to featureless room that seals itself off when entered.
  • Flying crow statue automaton steward squawks loudly when intruders are identified (it's bad at this)
  • Creepy scarecrow in garden (harmless but distracting). Gardening tools will animate and attack garden intruders when their backs are turned (not harmless).
  • Ties in the master bedroom will animate and strangle intruders. The uglier the tie, the more hostile it is.
  • Front doorknob shocks those who touch it without the password (can be learned from guards).
  • A very hostile animated trombone in the lounge, surrounded by other instruments.

Treasures: Select wines in the cellar (1d100gp each), jewels in the eyes of the crow-steward (2x200gp), animated tools (if you can catch them), pricey furniture (1d10x10gp), expensive soaps in master bedroom (1d4x20gp), portraits (1d6x20gp), books (1d10x5gp), musical instruments (the piano in particular has some very pricey ivory keys).

5. An Old Woman's Missing Dream

Dorothy Lung insists that somebody stole her favorite dream - sailing a boat upon sunset clouds. She's beside herself, and is willing to pay if somebody can bring it back. She suspects somebody at the Better Reality Union is involved, but she's too frightened to confront them. She had a painting of the dream, but even that was stolen, too!

Rewards (Pick One):
  • One share per person in Locke-Key Incorporated. (Shares presently valued at 10d4 x 5gp. Gives one access to L.K.I. shareholder meetings + elections. Increases in value by 1d4 x 5 gp every semester until a housing market crash.)
  • 200gp magic quartz necklace - locket contains the facial image of the last person you've seen.

Complications: The Better Reality Union is a red herring, but is capable of replacing the dream (for a cost). Lung's memory is failing, she might not even recognize the player-characters when they return.

The Dream-Thief is a serial cat thief cat living in a nearby abandoned alley, who steals and hoards good dreams. The Dream-Thief, at night is highly territorial and capable of magically enlarging into a large panther. By day it's just a sleeping normal-sized cat.

The painting was stolen by Swiggly Wren, who pawned of the Painting to The Unsigned Pawn Shop in order to pay rent. It's still there. He used a Knock spell to open things up without a fuss.

Clues (Apartment): 
  • Big cat claw marks on the couch.
  • No forced entry - Arcane Lock on the door.
  • Lung feeds a 'stray cat', won't mention it or think it's important at first. Milk bowl by the window.
  • Neighbors saw Swiggly Wren, one of the teenagers downstairs, in the hallway the night of the burglary looking suspicious. He is in possession of a spellbook containing Knock.
  • Neighbors are jealous and indifferent - none of them have had good dreams in years (since living in this complex, as a matter of fact).
  • Black cat fur rubbed up against bedposts.

6. Under Gallax Hall

Rumor holds that Gallax Hall was built upon the ruins of itself, and that those ruins hold treasure and danger. Classes are still held in the basement, despite complaints from students about ghosts, moving statues, mysterious janitors and the Department of Torture.

Complications: Gallax Hall is a dangerous place, full of monsters, traps, factions, and mystery. Venture at your own peril.

  • What you take is what you keep.

7. Intimidate a Professor

Zarloq The Brown has been publishing increasingly influential philosophical papers on the nature of undead and their consideration for personhood. This is making things complicated for certain industrialists utilizing zombified and skeletonized labor, and they've secretly contracted: [1) The Dead Janes 2) The Black Magic Fraternity 3) The Fire Brigade 4) The Black Dragons] to 'convince' him to stop publishing. The gang is outsourcing this job to potential new recruits/associates.

If you make it look like a rogue undead did it, there's a bonus available for you.

Complications: Zarloq the Brown is, of course, a wizard. Not a very powerful one, but a wizard nonetheless. He is protected by a number of esoteric abjurations, including a secret basement vampire with a vested interest in keeping him safe.

Rewards (Pick One, Bonus +1):
  • Initiation into the sponsoring gang + 200gp.
  • 1000gp.
  • Two obedient dog skeletons or one semi-obedient human zombie.

8. Academic Espionage

A masked anonymous graduate student working on behalf of their professor wants you to steal some data and project ideas from a rival researcher so they can beat their rivals to publication. Violence isn't off the table but is discouraged: the employer doesn't want too much attention drawn.


Department of...
Principle Investigator
Novel approaches in illusory mind-prisons.
M. Braum
Students of the Department are notoriously competitive and keen to experiment on peers and enemies.
Making homunculi out of atypical organs.
F. Deckard
All spaces related to the lab are guarded by creatures.
Speaking with Blood.
S. Slovash
Lab/Office space contains magical and physical traps.
Accuracy of novel “Find Traitors” spell.
I. O. Ungal
The Professor is paranoid and never leaves the office or sleeps.
The Wandering Mimetic Plague
I. Negalith
The experiments are frequently disastrous or deadly.
Forms of The Destroyer: Archeology of Leviathan.
C. S. Candle
Lab pays protection money to rival wizard gang.

Rewards (Pick One):
  • Embezzled spellbook supplies: 20 spell-pages worth of papers/ink.
  • Internship in sister laboratory for two people. (Part-time, crappy pay, decent connections)
  • Letter of Recommendation from a distinguished professor.
  • 800gp

9. Help with an Experiment
(Science Task)

Ms. Elisa Vot, intern at the Bureau of Spatial and Temporal Matters, is conducting an experiment and requires some assistance. She needs someone to set up these very-complicated-looking tripod devices at five points in the city in order to 'pentangulate the hypothesized spacetime fluctuations'.

Devices must be placed ideally as close as possible to center in the following hexes: Black Crater, Machine Magic Market, Portal of Screams, Wandering Monster, The Drain. All devices must be simultaneously activated in order for proper data collection.

There are two spare devices available in the event of damage or loss.

Complications: The devices are large, cumbersome, fragile, conspicuous, and expensive-looking. A person is encumbered when carrying one. Synchronously activating them requires someone at each device - the party may need to hire out some help. Additionally, local residents or thieves within the particular hexes might take alarm or interest in these devices.

Reward: A prototype Hyperspace-Adjacency Glove, which allows to wearer to be considered adjacent to pointed-at objects. 10 Charges left. Technically illegal for non-Bureau members to have. She'll declare it 'lost' to the Bureau.

10. Investigate Mo-RON Rampages

Kilo Neptune, private agent of Big Brain Insurance and secret informant for the secret police, needs help investigating reports of brains-in-jars, Mobility Reconnaissance Operating Nerves (Mo-RONs), going berserk and attempting to kill fellow Mo-RONs, so he can adjust insurance rates and determine payouts for ongoing claims.

Kilo suspects that there's some sort of rabies-like neurological disease going around that's transmitted through Mo-RON mecha-suits. He wants proof: a conclusive report, or better yet a live sample.


Barnaby Watkins: brain in jar, political pariah, and political activist for fellow Mo-RONs, is also concerned about these reported 'rampages', especially after fellow brain Hardy was recently attacked by what is suspected to be such a case.

Barnaby suspects some kind of conspiracy afoot, like a counterintelligence operation by the secret police to disrupt their activist movement and the Mo-RON population in order to justify cracking down on dissenters.

Both contacts recommend starting at the Machine Magic Market and information gathering with local groups of Mo-RONs.

Complications: All physical evidence from previous cases has been recycled or destroyed - only testimony from witnesses and half-ass'd police reports are available. A recent case has been discovered (Hardy's assaulter), but physical evidence is soon going to disappear as scrap-dealers and debt-holders sell off the body for parts.

The Truth: there is an Intellect Devourer serial killer behind these assaults. It uses a special neurotoxin injector to paralyze target Mo-RONs, before surgically removing the brain with magitech power tools and crawling into the victim's brain-chassis to assume their identity with their consumed memories. It then puts the discarded brain scraps into the chassis it previously occupied, claiming it attacked them (which the physical evidence will agree with, mind you).

Mo-RON Hangout
What’s Going On?
Jake’s Brain Shack
Dive bar for washed-out wizards and disembodied brains drinking alcohol cut with electrolyte solutions.
Lil’ Jack Webber - Spider Chassis - didn’t realize how powerful booze was when you don’t have a body to dilute it. He saw an assault but will need sobering up before he can devolve the details.
Ivory Tower Street One-Stop Fluid Fillup Station
Brains getting their fluids renewed and chassis oiled up. Like a cross between gas station and 24-Hour diner. Always a dripping sound.
Finius Grey - Bodied Wizard and Brain Fluid Jockey - has met a couple of the victims of attacks just after the assaults occurred (he has met the intellect devourer in multiple bodies after its killings without realizing). They all acted exactly the same: 1) Said “Hello” 2) Asked for Brain Fluid fill up, with extra electrolytes 3) Made idle conversation with fellow customers: “did you hear about that new chassis they’re working on?”
Corpus Callosum Work Agency
Mo-RONs are waiting in line to apply for a scant amount of work. They’re used to this frustrating wait.
Pat - Canine Chassis - is canvassing the work lines for recruits into Mo-RON political advocacy groups. She can sense the heightened desperation among her fellow brains. Suspicious that strangers work for the secret police. Heard rumors about the deaths, and doesn’t think the police did it: not their modus operandi. They simply ‘disappear people’, and they rarely screw up.
Nonstop Chop Shop
Recent victim chassis and unrelated defaulting debtors are being sterilized and disassembled for parts. Constant sound of whirring power tools.
Jiminy Pon-Fon Chop - Android Chassis - thinks that fellow Mo-RONs are just getting more desperate with worsening economic prospects. Selling chassis for parts on a murder spree is what he’d do if he didn’t have a job doing that anyway.
Lobo Lethe
Brains in jars connected by wires pay to share in a collective dream. Many brains have been here for years.
Dream-Curator Willamina - Android Chassis - was attacked by a fellow Mo-RON with some sort of needle, but managed to run away before getting jabbed. Thinks the attacker was after her pristine Eve-Class chassis. Attacker was wearing an Android Chassis, but less expensive than hers (matches Hardy’s appearance).
The Cram
Impoverished Mo-RONs are digging through the scrap piles to cobble together conglomerate machine bodies.
Cramlord Garv - Mixed Chassis - is wearing the body parts of two previous victims. Was a brain surgeon before losing his body - and hence job. Can remark how he found the brains of the previous attackers were missing their hippocampi, neo-cortexes, and amygdalas. The rest of the brain was present before being washed out.

  • Kilo will provide 200gp up front and 1,200gp on successful investigation, and put in the good word with the secret police.
  • Barnaby can offer select custom mecha-suits for any brains-in-jars within the party, or alternatively free monthly 1d4-per-member allotments of Brain Juice (healing potions).


  1. These quests are all great - I like how you have categories (Spycraft, Dungeon, etc.). Do you have a list of these categories somewhere we can see?

    1. I'm not sure what you mean. Regardless, there's no material related to this post that isn't already within it. Did you just want a list of categories of quest?

    2. Exactly! Its one of the things I have trouble coming up with, for some reason - I get stuck with only a couple structures, and a list of quest categories would be really helpful.

    3. When it gets reduced, there really are only a few categories: some kind of puzzle/mystery, do a task, do an illegal task, and explore a dungeon. For adventure structures I'd point you to The Alexandrian for support: