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The Quest: season 1, episode 6 - A Traitor in Saenctum

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Following immediately after episode six, last night's episode began with a spy orb scanning the grounds. Spy orbs are the world's least effective spying device, as it makes tremendous noise and glows brightly. It's unclear why the paladins hide from the thing -- if someone is attempting to spy on the castle with a glowing, whirring orb they pretty much expect it to be found. This summary includes 5E Dungeons & Dragons statistics.

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Sir Ansgar captures the spy wielding the spy orb, Herra, who they discover has a belt that's missing eight fire orbs. It's clear Herra has hidden them around the castle grounds and it's up to our heroes to find them.

HERRA
Medium humanoid (human), neutral evil
Armor Class 13 (leather armor)
Hit Points 16 (3d8 + 3)
Speed 30 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
11 (+0) 14 (+2) 12 (+1) 11 (+0) 13 (+1) 11 (+0)
Skills Nature +4, Perception +5, Stealth +6, Survival +5
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages Common
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
Keen Hearing and Sight. Herra has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or sight.
Actions
Multiattack. Herra makes two melee attacks or two ranged attacks.
Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, ranged 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.

SPY ORB

Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

Once a day you can use this orb as if you were casting the spell arcane eye at a spellcaster level equal to your character level. Unlike the invisible arcane eye spell, the spy orb. illuminates the area as a torch and gives off a loud hum that is easily detected. Like arcane eye, the user must be within 30 feet at all times or the spy orb drops the ground.

FIRE ORB

Wondrous item, very rare (requires attunement)

This item usually comes in a set of eight. Each fire orb contains a delayed blast fireball (12d6 fire damage) with the exception that the orb can be delayed by up to 24 hours. The fire orb can be disarmed with an Arcana 15 check. Failure by five or more detonates the orb.

Sir Ansgar pulls out all the stops and uses some magic of his own. Bird masks allow the paladins to see through the Eye of Saenctum, a falcon.

EYES OF SAENCTUM

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

This masks allow the user to connect with a specially bonded falcon. Everything the falcon sees, the mask sees as per the arcane eye spell, with the exception that it has a range of 300 feet and while searching through the mask the user has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Using these masks, Lina finds the first fire orb, then Bonnie, then Shondo, and finally Patrick. This leaves Andrew, Leticia, and Adria as the weakest links. Paladin Lina is awarded, by the order of the Kingdom of Glic, the Mark of Observation.

THE MARK OF OBSERVATION

Wondrous item, uncommon

Wearing this pin bestows a +1 bonus on all Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Herra reveals he was carrying maps. These maps form a puzzle that requires the paladins to solve by assembling them. The maps are later completed by The Fates. The paladins must line up the knights' swords so that a beam of light passes through the hilts to indicate the direction from which Verlox will attack. The swords are all different heights, which requires placing them in a particular order.

Characters must make an Intelligence 10 check to arrange them in the right order -- the highest roll wins.

Andrew wins the challenge, leaving it to Leticia and Adria. Adria goes home.

ADRIA

  • Medium humanoid (human), lawful good
  • Armor Class 17 (chain)
  • Hit Points 37 (5d8)
  • Speed 25 ft.
  • STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
  • 10 (+0) 14 (+2) 11 (+0) 17 (+3) 15 (+2) 17 (+3)
  • Saving Throws Str -1, Con +1, Int +3, Wis +3, Cha +4
  • Senses passive Perception 13
  • Languages Common
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)
  • Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d8-1) slashing damage.

Ansgar then role-plays with the paladins, sharing sad details of his deceased wife and his relationship with Herra (they were friends, which is hard to imagine given Herra's appearance). This is all a set up to Verlox attacking, of course.

The Quest's biggest weakness is that the contestants don't know the rules. They vote for or against each other based on completely fabricated criteria like, "the best person to face Verlox at the end of the series." It originally started with "whoever can teach us the most." Teach what? Teach how? The paladins don't even know what the final challenge is or how it will work, so their voting is all over the place -- some contestants try to eliminate others (implying that they will compete against each other right to the end) while other paladins base it on the presumed physicality of the contestants facing some unknown challenge.

The other problem is the contestants make almost no effort to blend in. They are still the usual unpleasant range of personalities without any defined role, hesitantly engaging with the NPCs. They talk about earning Sir Ansgar's approval, which makes the contestants seem ridiculous when they then shift gears to talk about "winning the game." The Quest straddles LARP and performance art, but in doing so frequently fails to satisfy either and ends up being a dissonant mishmash of awkward reality show contestants running around in the mud.

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