Content of the article: "Party Split in a city, one went to investigate while the other two went to do some shopping. The shoppers got mixed up in the information that was being investigated, while the investigator fired blanks. Having trouble finding a way to make it rewarding for everyone!"
So I'm running a homebrew campaign for three friends, one of whom just joined us to fill in for another member who dropped out.
Prior to the last session, the group had stopped a disgruntled tinkerer's plot to blow up a major city, and had escorted him in custody to the capital for trial. After the trial, they were presented with some potential contracts by the lawmaster. One of these contracts was to investigate unrest in the city being led by different agitators who are mad at the system. The party pretty much decided that they're interested in the agitator, but think the lawmaster is evil, and so don't want to be his guards.
The next morning, the new member of the team went off to go do some investigating in some taverns, while the other two went to go look for a magic user to identify their new item (without having thought to ask for the lawmaster's help, after having rendered a service). Anyway, I gave the investigator 4 options of taverns, one being clearly a farmer's tavern. They decided to go to the farmer's tavern, on the outskirts of town, and without doing anything to ingratiate themselves or be convincing, start talking to people about how the government sucks and trying to get their insights. I played it as the farmer's being in this tavern in the late morning after dropping off their produce, they're tired at this point and don't feel like talking to an outsider, and she didn't get much information. Mostly because she didn't do anything to gain anyone's trust, or even buy anyone a drink etc, and did roll low on her insight/ persuasion checks.
The other two meanwhile, decided to look for a magic user in the same district, which happens to be poorer and gang-run. After being told by a bunch of people that there were no magic users/ traders in this ward, they decided to keep asking people on the street about a magic user, but this time while winking at the people. This attracted the attention of a nearby gang, who followed them without them knowing.
Now, due to one of my PCs' backstory, he grew up in this city and left when he was young. He has one brother left, but the brother is AWOL (left when he was young, told him he had to go for reasons). So, the two PCs dropped by his old house just to take a look, and noticed some movement in the alley. As they walked into the alley, they were surrounded by 6 gang-members (who I've made as swashbucklers).
I left it at that cliffhanger to give me time to prep, but I'm a bit lost as to what to do. On the one hand, the new PC who went to investigate is new to the group. THis was her first shot at some exploration and they split up for the day for reasons that make sense. If/when she goes to the other taverns, she'll be able to pick up more information, as long as she's a little more subtle. She just happened to pick the tavern with the people who, while they might talk under some circumstances, mostly just want to have a drink/ meal after dropping their produce off in the city and then leave the city to go back to their farms. I don't want to punish her too much for that, and because she still has a day of investigation ahead of her! But I'm worried that giving too much information from the bandits with the other two PCs will disempower her, make it feel like she went to go do this work and the others are getting rewarded, etc. The other two, I don't want to just give them the information straight up because they're under suspicion right now, but I also don't want to make them fight the bandits, because there is a set up where I'd like them to gather information and make a decision if they were going to get rid of the bandits, or potentially work for them, because the city is corrupt. I don't want to just do a backstory dump (this particular gang in that PC's childhood neighborhood is related to a street gang he knew growing up, they've just graduated to working for an underground mafioso).
So I'm wondering how I can prompt more investigation from the new PC, but also create a really cool alleyway standoff with this gang for the other two, that may lead to animosity, may lead to collaboration, but won't reveal every intricacy that I've set up too quickly. Some ideas I have are maybe having the gang extort the two PCs for "protection". Like "we'll let you go this time, but fork over 10gp" or something like that. Or maybe have them be really cagey, and just ask a bunch of questions about the PCs, and then let them go when they find out they're not up to anything dangerous. Or maybe if the PCs are convincing enough, they introduce them to their magic user, who could help out, but for a price?
Sorry for the super long essay, but I'm just a little stuck! This is the first homebrew campaign I'm running for my PCs. We started with a book-adventure from EGtW and I'm building out the rest of it based on backstories/ interests. So I'm having some trouble with the planning of it all!
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