The Mythmakers

the mythmakers

THE MYTHMAKERS

HEROES CREATED WHILE YOUWAIT

The Mythmakers are a small, subtle organization. They do not threaten worlds or topple governments, but in the minds of many players, what they do may be far worse — for they artificially make heroes out of those without the mettle for it, and endangering innocents and sullying the reputation of true heroes in the process.

ATTRIBUTES OF THE MYTHMAKERS

Size: Small (10–50 members).

Alignment and Purpose: N; arranging catastrophes, particularly rampaging monsters, for their clients to “stop,” thus ensuring them a reputation.

Approximate Class Breakdown: Fighter 20%, Ranger 20%, Sorcerer 15%, Barbarian 10%, Bard 10%, Druid 10%, Wizard 10%, Other 5%

Resources: The Mythmakers are a small but extremely wealthy organization. Although they lack any formal influence over governments and guilds, their vast sums of capital render them capable of acquiring almost anything they need. Additionally, because they have damaging information about

many of their clients — clients who are now very powerful in local governments, or at least quite popular with the commoners — the Mythmakers are able to call in substantial favors.

Central Headquarters: The Mythmakers are constantly moving from environment to environment and even world to world. They have no central headquarters.

Known Enemies: The Mythmakers aren’t powerful enough or famous enough to have developed many powerful enemies. Some clients whose disasters went wrong harbor a grudge against the Mythmakers. The Wild Hunt occasionally butts heads with the organization, as they sometimes have clashing interests, but they have also been known to make use of one another’s services.

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A GENERAL OVERVIEW

A rather strange organization, the Mythmakers exist to make a profit from the ambition of others. Their clients are professional adventurers, noblemen seeking to improve their reputation (or that of their heirs), guardsmen seeking to justify an increased budget from the local government, or anyone who has reason to seek a shortcut to a reputation or to cause trouble in their home territory.

The Mythmakers specialize in creating disasters. Their particular forte is unleashing monsters in an area for their clients to capture or slay, but they also use magics to arrange natural disasters (earthquakes and forest fires, for instance), or to feign hauntings or curses. They arrange the precise nature of the disaster with the client ahead of time, carefully suiting it to his abilities and the sort of reputation he wishes to attain.

These services cost substantial amounts of gold, of course, and the Mythmakers have mastered many secondary ways of profiting from the events they set in motion. This is why the organization is so incredibly wealthy despite its small size and limited client base.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MYTHMAKERS

The Mythmakers is a fairly young organization, still overseen by its original founder. Although she is now too old for much in the way of field work, the ranger/sorceress Morganna Tanviel still organizes the Mythmakers’ activities, evaluates prospective clients, and otherwise manages their finances.

In her youth, Tanviel was a member of several hunters guilds, and even served briefly in the Wild Hunt. It was on an expedition

with a local nobleman that she first came up with the notion that would eventually evolve into the Mythmakers. As with many nobles, the baron in question rather enjoyed taking his family and an enormous entourage on hunting trips. On this particular occasion, he had the urge to travel deep into the wilderness beyond his borders, and had hired several members of a local hunters’ guild, including Tanviel, as guides. It was as well that he did, for the expedition had the misfortune of invading the territory of a gray render. Many of the baron’s guards were slain before Tanviel and her companions managed to kill the beast. As they were gathered about the carcass, the baron offered to pay the rangers a substantial sum of money if they would attest, when they returned to civilization, that it had been the baron himself who slew it.

Tanviel, who suddenly realized that she had the makings of a truly profitable enterprise on her hands, agreed wholeheartedly. Using the money gained from the baron, she and her companions began to hire others — not merely hunters, but spellcasters capable of rendering even the most dangerous monster docile, and aristocrats and servants of nobles who had contacts among the upper classes. After less than a year’s worth of preparation, the Mythmakers had members, or at least paid informants, in every local adventurers guild, in every upper class soiree, in every officers’ mess, and anywhere else they could learn who was looking for a shortcut to fame.

The Mythmakers swiftly grew quite wealthy by catering to the needs of the rich and powerful who wanted to increase their standing in the eyes of their peers and the commoners around them. Still, they likely would have remained a prosperous but local organization, with little influence beyond the region in which they began, had it not been for a

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rather ugly mishap with a hydra and the son of a local guildmaster. The Mythmakers, who were still in the early stages of their organization and had not yet developed many of the practices and safeguards they utilize today, succeeded in charming a hydra they had hunted down, and had arranged to release it near the borders of a large city. The plan was for the guildmaster’s son, along with a number of his father’s soldiers, to “hunt down” the creature and slay it before it could threaten more than the surrounding farmland. Unfortunately, Tanviel and her companions neglected to test the hydra after capturing it, and unknowingly unleashed a cryohydra where they had intended a normal one. The guildmaster’s son, prepared only for a standard hydra, was slain, along with most of his companions. An entire neighborhood of the city was destroyed before the hydra was finally put down through the combined efforts of the city guard, the local militia, and the entire force of hired soldiers employed by the local guilds.

Needless to say, the Mythmakers suddenly found it advisable to be someplace very far away, very quickly. Using her contacts from her days in the Wild Hunt, Tanviel and her companions were able to flee not merely to another region but to another world, where the long arm and great wealth of the guild could not reach. There, after taking some time to establish themselves, and to develop safer procedures, the Mythmakers began anew.

In the years that followed, Tanviel — along with her son Moreth, who eventually took over the organization — enlarged the scope of the Mythmakers. Tanviel expanded the membership, which had originally hovered at around two dozen, eventually almost doubling it. Some of her new employees were also taken from the ranks of the Wild Hunt, and several possessed the magics necessary

for planar travel. This allowed the Mythmakers to operate concurrently on multiple worlds, and to expand the range of monsters they could provide to their clients.

Today, the Mythmakers operate on at least half a dozen worlds, and none can say how many of the well-loved and respected heroes and leaders of those worlds owe their reputations to the orchestrations of an amoral and avaricious band of opportunists.

INSIDE THE MYTHMAKERS

The Mythmakers are, in many respects, more of an extended adventuring party than a true organization or guild. They have few rules or procedures, save those that are useful in capturing the monsters they need for their masquerades. While they do not particularly set out to cause unnecessary harm, they care nothing for the lives of the people hurt by the disasters they cause. So long as they make their profit and manage to keep their clients’ secrets, little else is of interest to them.

First Contact

The first step for the Mythmakers is, of course, finding a client. Since they cannot publicize what they do, they must seek out those with both the desire and the financial means to take advantage of their services. As mentioned above, the Mythmakers keep a very close eye on social gatherings. They prefer to place members within local adventurers’ and mercenaries’ guilds, guard and military units, and within the halls of high society. However, because the organization is relatively small, they lack sufficient personnel to be everywhere they want to be. Thus, the Mythmakers also employ outsiders, such as workers and servants, to be their eyes and ears. These people are paid

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handsomely to report anyone who seems to have the right combination of ambition and wealth.

Once the Mythmakers find or hear of such a person, they set members or agents to observing him at all times. If they eventually determine that the individual does indeed fit their criteria, they make contact and offer him a shortcut to fame and popularity. Most of the time, after they’ve had a while to think it over, the individual accepts the offer. Occasionally, however, the Mythmakers misjudge their potential client, and find themselves rejected. This leaves the Mythmakers in a potential bind, as they cannot allow word of what they do to leak out. In most instances, the rejection comes before they have revealed specific details of their methods, and the individual poses little threat. On occasion, though, negotiations break down only after the potential client has heard the entire offer. In such cases, though they dislike doing so, the Mythmakers are not averse to making the person “disappear,” so that he cannot share their secrets with others.

Unnatural Disasters

Once the Mythmakers have a client, they must decide on the precise nature of the catastrophe to be arranged. In the vast majority of cases, the client wishes to establish a reputation for valor, bravery, and skill at arms — the perfect attributes for a well- known adventurer or a popular prince to possess. In these instances, the Mythmakers arrange to capture and transport an appropriate monster to the region, so that their client may dispatch it to the accolades of the populace.

The Mythmakers make a detailed examination of their client, testing his abilities and questioning him for hours on end, to determine the best possible choice of monster.

It’s a fine line to walk; they need to produce a creature that will pose a credible threat — nobody gains a reputation by killing a lone goblin armed with a fork) — but not one that their client and his companions will prove unable to defeat.

At this stage of the process, the Mythmakers make something very clear to their client: Any deception on his part, any falsehood or omission that results in their selection of a monster inappropriate to his abilities, is entirely his responsibility. Once the monster has been captured and released, the Mythmakers disavow all liability unless they themselves somehow made a mistake, something that has not occurred since the incident with the hydra. If the monster proves too powerful for the client to defeat, he and the surrounding community are left entirely to their own devices, and the Mythmakers move on.

The Mythmakers prefer to capture unintelligent monsters, which are unlikely to act unpredictably or prove capable of threatening the organization should they somehow survive or escape. While the Mythmakers have occasionally made deals with intelligent monsters, who are in on the deception from the beginning and allow themselves to be “driven away” by the client in exchange for a hefty fee, the Mythmakers prefer not to do this, since it means splitting the profits.

The Mythmakers arrange every aspect of the operation with the client. The client knows in advance what sort of monster he will be facing. The Mythmakers, who never work with monsters they haven’t studied, provide an in-depth description of how the creature operates, fights, and feeds, its strengths and weaknesses, and how best to kill it. They arrange with the client precisely when and where the creature will be set loose, and they may even — for a substantial addition

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al fee — provide the weapons and equipment necessary for slaying it. The Mythmakers are even willing to pre-wound the creature or to poison it, thus ensuring their client’s victory. This service also draws an additional fee.

The only service the Mythmakers will not provide, no matter the riches offered, is actual assistance in taking down the creature they’ve released. Once they set an operation in motion, they wash their hands of the entire affair. The client’s success is based on his own abilities and his foresight in choosing allies.

On rare occasions, the client wants something other than a monster to slay. Priests attempting to prove their religious devotion and the power of their faith have requested fake hauntings, orchestrated through the use of illusions. Others request “natural” disasters; perhaps a fire from which, with the proper forewarning, they can rescue a woman they’re courting, or an earthquake that will allow an unpopular noble to generously step in and assist with the rebuilding. The Mythmakers have among their numbers spellcasters powerful enough to accomplish almost any local phenomenon required. As with the monsters, the organization takes no responsibility for any such disaster getting out of hand, and will have nothing to do with any cleanup or recovery efforts.

The Cost of a Good Catastrophe

The Mythmakers do not have a set pricing program for their services. Each client and each operation is judged on its own merits, and its own dangers. DMs who wish a very rough estimate, however, may use the following as a guideline.

Base Cost: Determine the class level of the most powerful member of the organization who will likely be required for the opera

tion. For monster-related tasks, assume this is someone with a class level equal to the target monster’s CR +2. For other disasters, calculate the minimum level at which a character could cast the requisite spells or perform the necessary skills. Multiply that character’s class level by 1,000 to obtain the base cost in gp.

Additional Personnel: Add 20% of the base cost for each additional person necessary for a reasonable chance of success at the operation. For monster hunts, assume anywhere from three to five additional people, based on the anticipated difficulty of locating and capturing the monster in question.

Client Modifier: Add 10% of the base cost for each adventuring class level of the client, and for every NPC class level above 2nd. Because “level” is a game term, and not a concept with which characters are actually familiar, this is based on the Mythmakers’ assessment of the client’s skills, abilities, and status. Thus, a client who exaggerates or hides his abilities may not be charged accurately.

Miscellaneous Modifiers: Add twice the market cost of any specialized equipment — exotic poisons, magic weapons, special containment devices, etc. — the Mythmakers provide for the client, or which they must use up or destroy in the process. One common item is a potion or other temporary magic item to raise the client’s Charisma during and just after his “heroic deed,” so as to better ensure that people view it in the best light. Add 20% of the base cost if the Mythmakers will be injuring or poisoning the monster to make things easier on the client. Add an “exposure fee” of anywhere from 10% to 25% of the base cost if the client is already well-known (such as a nobleman seeking to enhance his son’s reputation), as individuals already in the public

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eye pose a greater risk of discovery for the organization. Add 25% of the base cost if the creature to be captured is not native to the client’s world and thus requires extra-planar travel. Add 50% of the base cost for a rush job.

Again, these figures are estimates only, and the DM should not be afraid to raise or lower the result based on specific circumstances.

For example, consider a client who wishes to battle a chimera to prove his heroism to the local baron. The chimera is a CR 7 creature, so the Mythmakers must send an 11thlevel character to lead the hunt; this generates a base cost of 11,000 gp. Due to the chimera’s viciousness and breath weapon, they decide to err on the side of caution, and include five additional personnel. This is an increase of 2,200 gp (20% of 11,000) for each additional member, for a total of 22,000 so far. Because the client is himself an 8th-level character, this adds 8,800 more (10% of base cost per level), for a total of 30,800 gp. Finally, because the client wants the chimera drugged ahead of time, to ensure his victory, the Mythmakers add another 20% of base cost (2,200) for a grand total of 33,000 gp.

The Hunt

The Mythmakers have no specific pattern to their hunts. Once they’ve decided on an appropriate monster to fit a client’s needs — and remember, they never select a monster variety they haven’t already studied and observed — they plan the best way to find one and capture it alive, and then go about doing just that. The rangers in the organization work with the spellcasters to locate the monster, then hunt it down so that it can be charmed, put to sleep, or whatever other method is necessary for capture. While the field team is on the hunt, other personnel are

building a temporary holding facility designed to keep the monster helpless. These are always constructed in hidden or out-of-the-way locations.

Once the arranged time rolls around, the monster is transported to the established location, usually via magic, and set free. The Mythmakers disappear at that point, breaking down any facilities they’ve constructed and moving on to another region. To minimize the chance of discovery, the organization always allows several months to pass before taking a second contract in the same area, though they do sometimes leave a few members behind to capitalize on any additional opportunities that arise and to ensure that they haven’t been compromised or exposed in any way.

Additional Profits

Although the fees they charge their clients make up the vast majority of the Mythmakers’ income, they do manage to squeeze other profits out of their activities. Several of their members make a habit of buying up properties that have recently been damaged in the monster rampages. They allow the dust to settle and the property values to return to higher levels, and then sell at profit.

When they set out to capture a specific type of monster, the Mythmakers often make a cursory effort to find one that is already terrorizing some other community or occupied region. If they succeed in locating one, they approach the community in question and offer to deal with the monster for them… for a price, of course.

Finally, if the monster has valuable parts or organs, the organization may offer to purchase the body back from the client. This costs them more than a bit of money in the short run, but the Mythmakers have suffi

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cient contacts that they know how to sell the carcass, in whole or piecemeal, at a profit. They never pay more for the body than half what they can make back.

Customs and Practices

The Mythmakers have very few formal practices. They arrange to gather at regular intervals, in predetermined locations, to discuss possible clients or ongoing operations. Because the group is relatively small, they rarely have more than one, and at most two or three, concurrent ventures. This allows them to focus all their efforts on a specific client.

So long as members follow orders, do their utmost to succeed, and do not expose the organization to outsiders, the Mythmakers don’t much care what their people do, or what they think. While the organization itself is relatively neutral, a substantial portion of its membership leans toward evil.

Strictures and Requirements

Again, the informal nature of the Mythmakers ensures that they have few hard and fast rules. Don’t expose the organization’s secrets or methods, don’t try to keep more than your share of profits, don’t lie to clients, and always make yourself available for the next mission. Other than that, the Mythmakers have no real laws per se, and Morganna and Moreth are the ultimate arbiters as to whether a member has acted inappropriately. Members who are found to have acted against the interests of the Mythmakers have no course of appeal and no second chance, as the organization relies too heavily on secrecy for its success and its survival. The discipline for minor infractions, such as hoarding profits, is a hefty fine. The penalty for anything more serious is death. No middle ground exists.

Nobody approaches the Mythmakers asking to join, so the group’s operatives keep an eye out at all times for potential recruits. Those who seem to have both useful skills and the proper morality (read: precious little) are watched for a time, as though they were potential clients. If, after a period of observation, they still appear to be worthwhile recruits, the Mythmakers approach them with an offer of substantial profits. The potential member is first hired on for a single operation, in which his behavior, his skills, and his personality are observed closely. If he does well, and seems suited to the organization’s goals and methods, he is invited to join as a true member. Should he be deemed inappropriate, or should he refuse the invitation, he is slain out of hand and the member who tried to recruit him fined for showing poor judgment.

Influence and Outside Connections

The Mythmakers have little real power or influence, but they do have eyes and ears in most levels of society. In addition to their paid informants in guilds and politics, as described above, they often approach former clients for favors such as passing along information, providing access to high-society functions, and the like. The Mythmakers never resort to extortion or blackmail of former clients — doing so would completely destroy any credibility they have and might just incite one of the people they’ve dealt with to expose them — but they also never forget a contact, and are willing to offer minor favors in exchange for assistance.

The only multi-planar organization with which the Mythmakers have any regular contact is the Wild Hunt. As both organizations hunt exotic creatures, they occasionally come into territorial conflict. At other times, the groups are willing to cooperate. On occasion, the Mythmakers find it neces

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sary to capture a monster that they simply prove unable to find or to handle. In these instances, Morganna Tanviel is willing, reluctantly, to make use of her old contacts in the Wild Hunt and hire them to capture the beast. She hates doing this, as the Wild Hunt invariably charges so much that the operation proves far less profitable to the Mythmakers than it otherwise might have been. Still, some profit is better than none, and the Mythmakers cannot afford to have their reputation besmirched by a failure to honor the terms of a contract.

NEW MAGIC ITEM

Collapsing Cage

This appears to be an iron cage, perfectly suited for imprisoning either people or monsters. It changes size at command, growing from a cube approximately 1 foot on a side to a cage easily 60 feet on each side, or anywhere in between. Once a creature is placed inside, the cage can be commanded to shrink with no harm to the inhabitant, which is stored in an extradimensional space inside the cage not unlike that of a bag of holding. The cage provides breathable air for up to 8 hours, at which point it must either be enlarged to a size capable of holding the inhabitant naturally, or else the inhabitant is immediately shunted out of the cage into the nearest unoccupied space.

When shrunk to its smallest size, the cage weighs approximately 10 pounds. The cage bars, which are made of adamantine, have a hardness of 20, 40 hit points, and a bend DC of 42. Destroying one of the bars immediately causes the cage to revert to its full size. The bars can be destroyed from the outside only, as creatures within the cage are inside extradimensional space.

Caster Level: 9th, Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, reduce person, rope trick, secret chest; Market Price: 30,000

Gloves of Merciful Magic

So long as a spellcaster wears these gloves, all her offensive spells deal nonlethal damage. They also deal less damage overall, suffering a –1 penalty to each damage die (minimum 1). These items are especially favored by spellcasters seeking to capture foes alive. Spells of 7th-level and above are not affected by gloves of merciful magic.

Moderate conjuration, CL 11th, Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, cure serious wounds; Price 24,500 gp.

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