Skill Challenges

Interrogating Shevaril Starcloak

You enter the dimly-lit chamber that abuts the rear of Eveningstar Hall. The tracings of arcane sigils on the floor resonate in the room with a pale green glow. Slumped in the middle of the room is a slender half-elf dressed in rags, kept in place by two large chains stretched taut from opposing walls. As you enter, she lifts her head slightly, and beneath her tussled hair you can see her whisper and Elven curse.

This skill challenge covers attempts to extract information from Shevaril Starcloak. The challenge might take only as long as a normal conversation, or it could stretch on for days as the characters perform tasks to torture the NPC.

Setup: For the NPC to provide information, the PCs need to convince her of their trustworthiness or cause her such incredible pain that she reveals everything she knows.
Level: 3 (easy 9, moderate 13, hard 21). Complexity: 3 (requires 8 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight, Intimidate.

  • Bluff (DC 13): The character tries to ally himself with Shevaril, promises her aid, offers to take up her worthy cause, or otherwise patronizes and panders to her. All activities that could be considered "compassionate" full under the Bluff skill for this challenge.
  • Diplomacy (DC 13): The character expresses legitimate concern for Shevaril, sympathy for her cause, or remorse for the men who died under her command. All activities that could be considered "moderate" or "noncommittal" fall under the Diplomacy skill for this challenge.
  • Insight (DC 13): The character notices that Shevaril is holding back information or intentionally misleading them. Success on this check can cancel a failure that immediately proceeded it, but only once in the challenge. Failure on this check does not count against the challenge, but it still cannot be used for the remainder of the encounter.
  • Intimidate (DC 13): The character acts antagonistically toward Shevaril, hurting her with torture, threats, and other forms of abuse. All activities that could be considered "harsh" or "violent" full under the Intimidate skill for this challenge.

Success: The NPC provides all of her information to the characters. It's possible that the characters will choose a side at this point, either sharing what they learned with Reardon Cormaeril or offering their assistance to Shevaril Starcloak. It's just as likely that they sit on what they have learned, refusing to make a choice until they have more information.
Failure: The characters are forced to act without the NPC's information. Give once piece of information for every success.

The skill challenge is pretty straightforward, but the PCs may struggle to ask the right questions. Here are some example questions and answers that you may share with them:

  • "Why did you try to assassinate Reardon Cormaeril?"
    • "Reardon Cormaeril is a swine of a man, a corrupt politician who abused his influence to supplant the rightful Lord of Eveningstar. The night before my lady's disappearance, he met with two hooded men at his villa, and Tessaril knew immediately of their nefarious purpose, such was her insight. Without explaining to me the danger, she departed in the night to confront these hooded figures. That was three months ago. When Tessaril had been gone for but a week, Reardon had already petitioned the King for Lordship of Eveningstar, and his sycophants and lobbyists in Suzail made sure that he got it." (Insightful players may notice she didn't really answer the question)
    • "You didn't answer the question."
      • "We were not trying to assassinate Reardon Cormaeril, we were simply trying to draw out his supporters! I made certain the Blessed Brotherhood and most of the Purple Dragons were out of town, and then we attacked the Cormaerils in the most public way possible. It was just unfortunate happenstance that Reardon's newest lapdogs arrived that night to make a name for themselves. Reardon would never consciously betray Tessaril's fate to me, so I had to try to glean his purpose myself."
      • "How did you know the hooded men who met with Lord Cormaeril were evil?"
        • "As I told you before, I did not. Tessaril told me they were trouble, and I trust her implicitly. That they somehow managed to overcome her validates this claim, as she was the cleverest and most powerful wizard I've ever known."
        • "How did Tessaril know the hooded men were evil, then?"
          • "She did not say. She has a keen insight and can usually tell a good apple from a bad one, but it's also possible she recognized one of them. Tessaril is far older than she looks, and has seen a great deal in her time."
      • "How did you make sure the Blessed Brotherhood and Purple Dragons would be out of town?"
        • "I made up some story about monsters attacking travelers along the High Road and petitioned the Purple Dragons to investigate, and then I hired the Blessed Brotherhood to slay the 'ravenous beast stalking the countryside,' an adventure they simply couldn't refuse. Reardon's private security remained vigilant, but they're not particularly able."
  • "What is your connection to Tessaril Winter?" or "Why are you so eager to find Tessaril?"
    • "I am her most recent apprentice, and she and I were also lovers for a time. For the past three months, I've had an awful feeling that she is in danger, and it is the only purpose for which I live. My trust in her judgment and my love for her demand that I spare her from whatever sinister fate she's befallen, and Reardon Cormaeril is the key to finding her."
  • "Who are the men who conspired with you to assassinate the Lord of Eveningstar?"
    • "Those men were simply loyal and brave sons of Eveningstar. Some acted out of their personal love for Tessaril Winter, and others for their hate for Reardon Cormaeril. Their motives are irrelevant—I would accept the assistance of anyone who could get me closer to finding Tessaril."
  • "How many more followers do you have in Eveningstar?" or "Why have your allies not tried to free you?"
    • "I have but a handful of trustworthy allies remaining: eight of them fell to your swords, and the others have likely gone into hiding to escape Reardon's impending reprisal. I do not blame them for this; Reardon has immense political power, and if he has overcome Tessaril somehow, his magic must be even greater."
    • "Where would your allies have gone into hiding?"
      • "Our meeting place was the family farm of Fabian and Gilbert Meisner. It is unclear what will happen to the homestead now, since their blood still stains your hands. It is almost certain that Reardon's men or the Purple Dragons will investigate that place, so it's unlikely they would have returned."
    • "Who are your remaining allies?" or "Tell me the names of your allies!"
      • "I will not betray the righteous who still live! You'll have to kill me."
        • "We must know who they are so that we can help you!"
          • (Automatic Failure) "If you demonstrate the character worthy of assisting us, the Starcloaks will find you."
  • "So let me get this straight: Tessaril Winter was your superior in magic, but she was defeated by two hooded men who are allies of Reardon Cormaeril. You attacked Lord Cormaeril and his family to draw out two unknown combatants who were, in all likelihood, superior to you in every capacity, and… what? Defeat them in combat? What was your plan?"
    • "My actions were altruistic and taken without regard for my life. If Reardon were to play his hand, Tessaril's allies from across Faerûn would no doubt come to her aid; we're talking adventurers from Marsember and War Wizards from Suzail, elves from Myth Drannor and rangers from the Dalelands. I would gladly lay down my life if death meant peace and stability in northern Cormyr."
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