Episode 3: Gentleman's Wager, Synopsis

While making your way along Paseo Largo (the merchant district of Altamira, situated along The Dechane River), a commotion near one of the docks caught your attention. There, you saw a number of nefarious looking men accosting some of the dockworkers unloading a nearby boat. While the matter seemed limited to a verbal altercation, all too quickly the matter became physical.

It began when a gangly young dockworker (carrying a box way too large for him) stumbled and fell into the river, taking the box with him. When pulled from the river, one of the men, a swarthy, cruel-looking individual (heroes would later come to know as Santino Avilla de Silva, the owner of de Silva Mercantile) spoke a few words before ordering the others to hoist the boy up on a nearby crossbeam where a man you recognized from previously (Carlos Palomo de Soldano) began to whip him with a cat-o-nine-tails.

Immediately you intervened, stopping the whipping, but in the process learning that Santino had the law on his side, at least technically. Fortunately, the guards soon arrived, as did Alfonzo Cortez de Cordoba, the youth’s employer and owner of de Cordoba Mercantile (de Silva’s chief rival).

A very heated argument ensued, and during the course of it, you learned several interesting things. First, this fight was just another in a long line of disagreements in a long-simmering feud between the two most powerful merchant family in Altamira. And second, this whole situation seemed to be exactly what Santino had planned.

As the argument continued, the discussion turned away from the facts of the event and moved toward a discussion about whether Fear or Love was the proper way to motivate one’s employees (steered that way, of course, by Santino). In the end, a wager was proposed to test the matter. The two merchants would have a race across town to drop off Santino’s goods to his storehouse. On one side, Santino and his fearful employees, on the other Alfonzo and his loving ones. The loser of the contest would pay the whipped boy’s wages until he recovered.

You, of course, were more than willing to involve yourself on Alfonzo’s behalf, but that’s when everything twisted horribly. Instead of being asked to work for Alfonzo, he (worried Santino’s thugs would murder his men during the race) fairly begged you to work for Santino. The latter agreed, stating that he thought it would be a simple matter to make you fear him.

And that’s exactly what he did, though not in the way you expected. While waiting for the two merchants to divvy up the cargo, both men came to visit you at your favorite tavern, Dos Caballeros y Doncellas. Alfonzo, to apologize for asking this of you, and to wish you well in an honest contest. Santino to point out that he had plenty of witnesses to ‘prove’ you had taken a bribe from Alfonzo de Cordoba the “most honest” merchant in Altamira.

After that, it was off to the races (literally). During the race you had to deal with bad directions, dangerous turns, narrow alleyways, surprised bystanders, and a bull in a Cathayan shop. Interestingly, you also noticed that your employer, despite his words to the contrary, seemed to want you to lose, as he gave you faulty maps and poor equipment, then threw various obstacles in your way, including a herd of pigs. In the end, however, despite a close race (and some honorable behavior on both your and your opponents’ parts) you managed to emerge victorious. In the end, Santino gloated about it (as you might expect) and Alfonzo lived up to his part of the bargain.

First, heroes find themselves witness to a savage assault which turns out to be perfectly legal. Then they find the beating is another disagreement in a long-simmering feud between two powerful merchant families. Worse, whatever side heroes choose, they are destined to work for the villain.

The bulk of the adventure is a race across Altamira between heroes (working for the de Silvas) and professional dockworkers (working for the de Cordobas). Along the way, heroes must deal with farmers taking their pigs to market, angry bulls, and dishonorable men determined to win at all costs. By the end, heroes could wind up making a few new friends, and maybe a very dangerous enemy.