Hook: The heroes witness an assassin shoot down an important dignitary on the streets of Market Town. The assassin discards his crossbow and darts into a crowded market, where he is difficult to spot, but his rough, shabby appearance makes it difficult for him to hide completely. The heroes are the only ones who have seen the assassin. NPCs are tending to the dignitary. Can the heroes catch the assassin before he disappears?
The Chase: During the chase, measure the distance from the assassin to the heroes in spaces, each one representing an arbitrary distance. You can use a marked diagram if you’d like to give the heroes a visual aid. In general, any action the heroes take to speed themselves up should move them one space closer to the assassin. Any action the heroes take to slow the assassin should move all of the heroes one space closer (representing the assassin losing ground) except the hero who took the action (who probably had to stop running to take the action). Modify this as you see fit based on the action. Explain to the players that they are maintaining a steady pace, not running all out, but pacing themselves and avoiding the hazards of the city around them.
The chase itself plays out in a series of rounds during which each hero will have the opportunity to take an action or react to the environment. During the chase, the assassin will lead them through several different neighborhoods and districts. Ultimately, the assassin is trying to reach the Scumm and Villainy Bar in Crimetown. The owner is a friend of his and maintains a secret back room the assassin can vanish into. The owner will cover for him.
The heroes begin the space five spaces behind the assassin. If, at any point, none of the heroes is within seven spaces of the assassin, the assassin ducks into an alley and disappears, escaping.
The Rooftops: During the chase, one or more of the heroes can try to gain the rooftops to make the chase easier. This option is called out twice during the chase, but players should be able to do so at any time. During the round in which the player climbs up to the rooftops, they lose a space. Thereafter, they must attempt a skill check each round to navigate the rooftops. If they fail, they fall to the streets, lose a space, and take falling damage. If they succeed, they gain a space. Heroes on the rooftops may jump down at any time with a skill check. If they succeed, they continue the chase. If they fail, they take falling damage and lose a space.
Round 1: The Market
The assassin barrels through a crowded market which makes it slow going for both himself and the heroes. Allow the players to take an action to mitigate the crowd. Also, call attention to the bunting and streamers hanging down from the low rooftops and market stalls to suggest the idea of climbing onto the rooftops. If a hero does something to mitigate or disperse the crowd, allow that hero (or all the heroes based on the action) to gain a space. If a hero attempts to predict the assassin’s route, allow them to make a skill check as described in the next round.
Round 2: The Market
The assassin continues to make his way through the thick crowd. Continue as you did in the previous round, but don’t call further attention to the rooftops. However, ask everyone to make a skill check to check their knowledge of the city.The check should be difficult.
If the check succeeds, tell the player that the assassin’s rough clothing and demeanor would make it difficult for him to vanish here in Market Town. He may be running for the bridge to Crime Town, a slum neighborhood across the river, where he may be able to go to ground. Warn them, however, that the information is just a guess and could be wrong.
If any of the PCs ask, they can navigate a shortcut through the city. Ask them to make a skill check as they cut into an alley, but warn them that, if they fail to navigate, they will end up lost and be out of the chase.
Round 3: The Side Street
The assassin bursts out of the market and into a straight side street. The street is not very crowded and provides a nice straight run with no outlets and it offers a clear line of sight. After a moment, also suggest that this might be a good place to sprint all out, but warn the heroes they might push too hard and fatigue themselves, losing some ground. Allow any heroes who want to to make a skill check to sprint. Move them up a space if they succeed. They lose a space and fall back a bit if they fail. Also, allow any other actions to slow down the assassin you feel might be appropriate in the situation.
Round 4: The Horse Street
The assassin turns a corner and darts down a street filled with carts, laborers, and draft animals. He takes out a long dagger and slashes at the flank of a horse as he darts past. The terrified animal whinnies and tears itself free of its harness, bolting up the street right toward the heroes, knocking people aside and injuring them as it charges out of control.
Allow the heroes a chance to react to the horse. If they seem intent on ignoring the horse, remind them it is charging right toward them and may run wild through the streets, injuring many people before it is caught and calmed down. If no one reacts, ask each hero to make a save. If they fail, they lose a space. If one of the heroes attempts to calm or capture the horse, he can prevent the rest of the heroes from having to make saves if successful.
If someone ends up on a horse somehow and takes control of it (which should be a difficult maneuver), allow them to gain a space. Thereafter, they gain two spaces every round until the heroes reach the Crimetown Alleys, whereupon the horse will not enter the narrow streets and will have to be abandoned.
Round 5: The Winding Street
If there is a hero navigating the back alleys, ask for a second skill check as they attempt to find the shortcut to the bridge.
Meanwhile, the assassin darts down a winding, curved street, crowded with citizens. Describe the street and the chase, but the winding road doesn’t allow clean lines of sight or let the heroes sprint. In all likelihood, the heroes will not be able to do much here.
Round 6: The Crimetown Bridge
The bridge to Crimetown crosses a wide, slow-moving river. It is not terribly crowded, but there are a few people milling about on the bridge and numerous market stalls.
If the hero navigating the shortcut succeeded on both skill checks, he bursts onto the bridge ahead of the assassin and can attempt to tackle him. This should be a moderate check. If it fails, allow him to pick up the chase one space behind the assassin.
Now, the assassin slashes at a passerby on the bridge and shoves him over the railing. The citizen begins flailing into the water, bleeding freely. He is in imminent danger of drowning or bleeding to death. The other people on the bridge look shocked and alarmed, but no one is jumping into help him.
If there are any heroes on the rooftops, they will have to jump down as the river is too wide to continue their path. A hero might attempt to jump directly into the river to save the drowning man.
Meanwhile, heroes on the bridge can sprint after assassin, gaining ground as they could in the Side Street. If someone leaps into the river to rescue the citizen, allow them to do so with an easy check, but they can’t rejoin the race as the rescue takes too long.
Round 7: The Crimetown Streets
The assassin enters the rundown, dirty streets of Crimetown. At this point, if no one is within three spaces of the assassin, he darts into a side alley and disappears. Allow the closest hero a difficult skill check to spot his hiding place to continue the chase. If the hero spots him, he will realize it and bolt again, but the delay was enough to let every hero gain a space. If the heroes try to bluff or stalk the hidden assassin, he will remain hidden for a few minutes and then slowly make his way to the Scumm and Villainy Bar and Grill. The heroes should be able to ambush him with a skill check or two.
If the assassin doesn’t attempt to hide, heroes may take advantage of the straight run to sprint as before or attempt other actions to slow down the assassin. A hero might also try to get back onto the rooftops.
Round 8: The Crime Town Streets
The long, run-down street continues and the assassin continues running. Allow heroes to sprint or take other actions. In addition, draw attention to the sagging drain pipes, low eaves, and clothes hanging lines to remind the heroes about climbing on to the rooftops again.
Round 9: The Back Alleys
The assassin darts into the tight back alleys of Crime Town. A horse will not ride into these narrow alleys beneath low overhangs. If no hero is within two spaces of the assassin or on the rooftops within four spaces of the assassin, the assassin disappears. Allow the closest hero a difficult skill check to spot his hiding place (as on the Crime Town Streets). Otherwise, the assassin gets away. Otherwise, few actions are possible here, but allow creative heroes a chance to close the distance.
Round 10: The Crime Town Market
The assassin emerges from the alleys into a crowded market filled with dirty, grubby tents and poor merchants, citizens, and criminals. The crowd impedes both the assassin and the heroes. Allow the heroes a chance to mitigate the crowd and catch up, gaining a space.
End: The Scumm and Villainy Bar and Grill
The assassin ducks into the Scumm and Villainy Bar and Grill. Any hero within two spaces knows where the assassin went. However, the assassin disappears into a secret room immediately after entering and the owner covers for him. The heroes will have to ransack the place or question the owner and may end up in a fight, but that’s a different encounter.