The margrave is holding a party in his grand mansion on the western banks of Lake Ripploch. He has invited everyone he wishes to send forth on the investigation and holds a speech outlining the problem close to the end of the party. Potentially omit this part if parts of the group are not likely to be eligible for an invitation.
The squad comes together and meets with an authority figure, possibly a captain of the White Lancers of Aerialis, who explains the situation in more detail and may give the first clues for the investigation.
During the party and/or after the first squad meeting, one or more other squads are introduced as potential competitors. They will also attempt to solve the investigation, may suppress information or lay false trails in order to get a leg up on the competition.
The Black Feathers
The squad comes into contact with the Black Feathers, a notorious organized crime syndicate located in Aerialis. They may or may not be behind the actual crime, but are likely to deny any involvement. They may also warn, hinder, or otherwise attack the squad, trying to keep them away from their illegal activities.
After following different leads and speaking to people and organizations around Aerialis, the squad learns about a planned storehouse raid that will take place soon. They can now plan a counter raid and attempt to intercept the thieves, ideally detaining some of them for questioning. Either they do, or they gain other clues (perhaps one of the thieves drops a note).
The squad learns the identity of the ringleader or ringleaders. This may be an influential noble, a leader of one of the other investigative squads, the Black Feathers, or a small guild the players interacted with.
Confronting the Big Bad
The squad either confronts the perpetrator directly, potentially forcing them to fight, or organize a raid with the White Lancers or the margrave directly.
The perpetrator is caught or escapes. If he is caught by the players, or largely due to their help, the players are commended and rewarded by the margrave personally.
Possible Player Character AspectsThese aspects are based on the ideas of the Fate Core P&P system. They can be applied to any system and are simply archetypical phrases that describe your character and what makes them tick. High concept aspects describe your character's 'deal', showcasing their powers, influence, what they are famous or infamous for, or their core motivation. Trouble aspects describe the thing that complicates your character's life the most, be it an addiction, a negative relationship with an influential group, a psychological problem, or something else.
- High Concept
- [valiant/wealthy/influential/distinguished] knight of the White Lancers of Aerialis.
- Noble of house [Van Haag-Taira / Severlin / Ginden / Gram Vul Dun].
- High ranking member of the [guild name] Guild.
- Personal [guard/servant] of the margrave of Aerialis.
- Official representative of the Lord of Wind.
- Private detective from the [ward name] ward.
- Wind magus of the Rickard Leeuw Magistorium.
- No one must know that I suffer from [stage] stage spellblight.
- I am secretly addicted to mothdust (a black market drug).
- My family is sponsoring one of the Wind Shrines, and well liked in the surrounding neighborhood.
- Notorious barfly.
- There is a mandala for every situation.
- The streets are my home.
The Nubium Painters are a guild of smiths and mandala makers that forge the precious magic metal nubium out of aluminum alloy imported from Fulgrath. The fact that shipments of nubium have been intercepted and storehouses robbed has alarmed them since they fear the theft of the secrets of their Art. Additionally, they fear that potential crackdowns and political measures caused by these incidents may negatively affect the guild. In trying to find out more about the culprits involved in these crimes, one should be able to count this influential guild among his or her allies, or at least supportive of their investigation. The Steward of the Margrave
The margrave has ordered the investigation of the criminals but is himself a very busy man, unlikely to be available at your back and call. It is therefore imperative to establish a good relationship with his steward, who will be likely to handle all affairs that have to go through the Margraves sphere of influence.
The Rickard Leeuw Magistorium is one of the five great Mage Academies of the Middle Lands, and resides in the walled Royal City at the heart of Aerialis. Not everyone has access to this special ward, though a magus of the Magistorium, or a high enough ranking member of the Van Haag-Taira family would. The Magistorium is involved in spell ink research, and its creation, though most parts of the process are handled by the Alchemist's Guild of Aerialis. Still, misuse of magic, and trafficking of contraband spell ink mandalas is frowned upon by the Magistorium, and the dean and his staff may be inclined to assist in an investigation if the right tone and/or leverage is used to convince them. The Shadow Society
More legend than actually known entity, the Shadow Society is a group of clockwork mages that have their halls somewhere at the western foothills of the Yamato Mountain Range. It is said that each of them possesses a magic lantern that is hung somewhere in one of their halls, and they can bend all light around them into that lantern, no matter how far away, using shadows to hide, and even to walk into faraway lands with but one step. It is said that they secretly influence the world in many questionable and perhaps self-serving ways, and if they are not just a fairy tale, there are likely to be operatives in Aerialis as well, though if they have anything to do with the crimes happening, and whether they would want to is unclear.
While the unified goal of your side is to root out the criminals at all costs, it is quite obvious to everyone, that the most glory and potential rewards will naturally fall to the group that actually makes the arrest or key discovery. Other squads might get quite competitive and aim to hinder you or withhold evidence, as some believe that the margrave might give out titles or land to those who solve the case.
Said to be led by influential former students of the Rickard Leeuw Magistorium, the Black Feathers are a powerful group of organized criminals that operate in Aerialis. They have several guilds under their control and ties to the Severlin family. Whether they are the masterminds behind the thefts or not, they are likely to know more about the state of affairs than most, but would also not likely look kindly on anyone stirring up the mud.
The City of AerialisThe city of Aerialis is a buzzing hub of trade and eductation located on the eastern flank of the Middle Lands. It has relatively direct access to the cities of Aquaris and Arda as well as the Tower of Five via the North Way, and to the Yamato Kingdom via the Sun Road. In lying to the western border of the Yamato Kingdom, eastern families and traditions have shaped the culture and architecture of Aerialis as much as Middlish men, creating a rich tapestry of half-timbered houses, and elegant wood houses, akin to, but not quite like the houses of the Yamato Kingdom. Many channels have been dug throughout the city for sanitation and transport, and the great Lake Ripploch serves as a reservoir for water, as well as a fishing ground.
Aerialis is run by the margrave, the Van Haag-Taira Family, and the Lord of Wind. The city is divided into 10 special wards, each of which have quasi-municipality status. They are governed by a head family or guild but part of the taxes payed to these is diverted to the three ruling bodies of the city.The city is surrounded by so-called wind catchers, magical engines that can call and direct the wind, which is used to power windmills, but also to veil the city in a powerful wind wall at night, or during attacks. None may pass through, once the wall has been raised.
Lake RipplochThe lake on the western side of the city is one of the largest in the Great Land, and home to several kinds of fish, and more recently Aquaris eel. There is quite a bit of fishing, but also leisure boating taking place on the lake, as it is a beautiful location in a still relatively mild climate zone.
The Mansion of the MargraveOn the western shore of Lake Ripploch, within the Willowoods lies the fortified mansion of the margrave, where he himself lives with his family. The mansion is built around a large, sturdy donjon, but surrounded by ostentatious additions that have turned it into a prestigious estate. Around the main estate lie the barracks of the White Lancers of Aerialis, a special unit of combat mages that is mostly comprised of city nobles that have been given the special honor to serve as knights of the margrave, who is in charge of large parts of Aerialis's military.
Aerialis is a large city with no shortage of poverty-stricken folk that will do anything to survive another day, including pickpockets. Especially street urchins may be more dangerous than they look, and one should always keep their hands close to their pockets when a flock of them passes them by. Getting a hold of one of these urchins might lead to clues as to who is running the bigger rackets around town.
Beggars and Blighters
It is also not uncommon to find beggars sitting in street corners, asking for charity. While the texts many old philosophers of the Yamato Kingdom have been popular in Aerialian culture, and Aerialingers are generally quite generous to their poor, one should always be careful around potential blighters. Those afflicted by Spellblight are no danger to anyone, but are generally seen as unclean by society and shunned. To hide their cobalt blue eyes and white hair, they usually bandage their eyes, acting as if they were blind beggars, and dye their hair (usually in inconspicuous colors such as black). A beggar may call out to passersby, and one may not wish to appear miserly, but also be wary of potential blighters, as giving to them might hurt one's social standing.
Aerialingers have the worship of the ur-soul of the wind deeply ingrained in their culture, and while most do not observe this tradition all to religiously, naming the three winds, and giving offerings at the many wind shrines littered around the city are so common that they barely think about it. Additionally, there are regular little shows and festivals conducted around these shrines, and one may always be likely to run into such an event. This can lead to blocked roads, confection stands here and there, and on rare occasions bridges have collapsed because of over attendance.
The Blind Network
If good relations are established with a Blighter, one might learn of a strange group, called the Blind Network. Far from being glamorous or powerful, this is basically a secret society of blighters that have banded together to survive on the streets of Aerialis despite their stigmatization. They organize hair dyers, sometimes hand-outs amongst each other, and they have one or two locations in the city where blighters can find shelter, especially during winter. For someone trying to root out a criminal enterprise, access to the Blind Network might prove invaluable, because the blighters have ears, and sometimes eyes, on most of the streets and back alleys of Aerialis. Nonetheless, being associated with such a group would be social suicide for anyone with a name or position.
The Black Feathers
The Black Feathers control much of the organized crime of Aerialis, especially in the Severlin district and with the guilds. There is a fair chance that they have a stake in the nubium thefts, or are trying to learn more about it as well, and there are many potential points of contact with them. Wherever one starts digging for crime, the Black Feathers may come up, and they may not like coming up at all. Once you are on their radar, they may try to harm or hinder you with considerable resources and street clout.