An Adventure Seed by Emiricol

Act One

An acolyte minion of no real status hires thugs to cause a minor crime wave in a city, and to lay the blame on the family of a cult rival. He does this to drive the acolyte, whom he cannot directly attack, out of the city and ruin his name. Though this will help the villain gain his advancement in the cult, he clearly didn't have the funds or connections to devise and execute this plan himself.

The PCs are witness (or intervene) to one of the crimes, and gain a clue that may lead them to the supposed instigator of the crimes (really the victim). The clue is that a minor NPC reports overhearing the bad guys speak of a farm with a flour mill in a small valley. (Investigation later will tell the PCs where it is.) Presumably, the bandits are based there (but this is false, or at least, not yet true.)

Act Two

To gain the thanks and debt of honor of the town's elders, the PCs must track down the bandits "behind all this crime" and eliminate them. As they ask around about the farm, they are beset by thugs, one of whom bears a scrap of parchment with the name and summary of the victim and his family and the plot to discredit them - some of whom live at the farm they are going to (further bolstering the idea that the victim is really the villain).

The PCs arrive at the farm, and discover it is a front for gold panning and cultist activity. The PCs are then set upon by first the victim and his family (who fled here to hide from fallout over being framed in the city and wish to keep the place's role a secret), and immediately afterwards, a group of thugs and the villain, who wish to finish the job and eliminate the threat posed by the heroes as well. Only at this point do the PCs figure out the victim and instigator's true roles.

Act Three

Afterwards, the PCs discover the gold had already been sent by the victim to an unknown cultist leader who is referred to in some papers at the farm only by the name of "Scarlet Dreamer". They also discover evidence the *villain* was going to rat out their cell leader to the Rangers, probably to clear the way for further advancement - but now, with both victim and villain dead, this is a dead end and the adventure ends with the PCs gaining the gratitude of the city watch and merchant council for ending the crime spree and damaging cultist plots.

The End?

If the GM continues the plot, there is also a clue as to the identity of the cell leader, a small sigil that will require investigation to identify. And it should intrigue the PCs that the villain couldn't afford the scheme he had going. Surely there's more to this story than meets the eye...