These are some ideas to get your players to Verivaltus and then actually want to stay in Verivaltus. It would be easy to get them to a giant pirate fortress and then just have the pirates jack their boat, but that feels cheap and makes the player feel railroaded. If you can get the players to choose to help resolve the conflict within the 'Valt even though they have an easy escape whenever they want, that says something about their engagement and it's a great way for players to roleplay absolute good in-universe. Here are some ways to get the players to go to Verivaltus.
- Have the player's witness a Verivaltus raid. The pirates of Verivaltus are cocky and vicious, and they always have a numbers advantage. They don't expect much resistance and fall easily to an adventuring party like yours. They can either be cowardly and flee back to Verivaltus as the players give chase, or if you want to play up the unfairness, the pirates can overwhelm the players and take them back to Verivaltus to act as slaves. This also gives them a direct connection to the slave revolution plot throughline.
- The players need to track down a rare magic item that has some kind of plot relevance to your main story thread. Verivaltus is an international trade hub and black market. If they need to find something, maybe they need to get in touch with one of the trade emissaries (A la, the man with golden eyes). If it can be bought, it can be bought in Verivaltus.
- The players might have something of value stolen from them. In my home campaign, the pirate lords of Verivaltus stole their recently acquired corsair ship. This was stressing, but even more stressing is that several party member's valuables and companion pets were on board when it was stolen. This gave them a huge reason to travel to Verivaltus and procure their stolen goods. Once there, the ship can be either broken down, disguised, purchased by someone else, giving them a mission to re-procure it through legal or extra legal means.
- Once in Verivaltus, other things that might keep the players busy could be engaging with some sort of turf or faction war. I haven't yet made a chart for which factions have problems with others, but it's entirely possible that their issues could be brought to light by the players. As an example, it could be that restaurateurs in the galley district find that their loan applications are being denied by the Goldwharf. Maybe some bad blood exists when one of the higher ups in the banking community got food poisoning from a restaurant in the galley.
Another faction war that comes to mind is the competition between districts for able bodies to work. The processing stations of the Bilge Flats are in constant need of bodies with intelligent minds to turn their gears, but the richer districts would rather those servants work for them. Meanwhile, the slavers of the Meatspoke think the idea of paying a servant infringes on their profits, paying someone consistently over buying a slave once. The Meatspoke might begin contracting out slaves, renting them for specific jobs and then taking them back in.
This leads to another way in which the players might get involved with the class struggle of Verivaltus; that of requisition. I know that my players would object to rounding up slaves for a greedy bordello owner, but if they didn't know that's what they were doing until they got there... And at that point they could very well have been introduced to a member of the Cut-Knuckle revolutionaries. This would give them an alternative to returning the slaves to their owners, and instead plunge them headfirst into rebellion.
rebellion bits and bobs
Running short of time, so i'll format this later.
The revolution goes through a couple of phases, and when the players get involved changes the length and flavor of this campaign. First, here are the phases that play out without player interference.
Slaves are used and abused and while foreigners find slavery distasteful, they will do nothing to upset their hosts, who have very lucrative business propositions.
If the players enter here, they could potentially get involved with trying to start the revolution, becoming heroes that try to learn the inner workings of the city that they might dismantle the abundant use of slavery.
Lara Gleamclaw(Step 3)
goes through her story arc that ends with her resolve to start a revolution using her newfound sorcery, but a severe lack of knowhow. This also results in the death of one of the Wheel of Command, causing security around the remaining members to increase by a huge amount.
This is when my party will arrive in Verivaltus. The idea at this point will be that they arrive when suspicion is at an all time high, and a real desire to catch the individuals responsible will be most possible. If the players do not catch or wish to ignore Lara, she will begin to gather followers, establishing a movement. She will begin spreading rumors about a revolutionary group that has a large underground following. This rumor will make it to the players, and they can decide to investigate or not.
Lara is killing anyone that she thinks will help bring down the governmental structure of Verivaltus and is gathering followers as she frees like-minded slaves. Some slaves have apprehension about murder, thinking that there could be a nonviolent means of gaining freedom.
The players might have a deputy of the Wheel of Command as a patron within Verivaltus, and find that they are suddenly killed or their subordinates are being killed and need to be investigated.
Revolutionaries feared/branded as terrorists
Lara has her Cut-Knuckles destroy a flat station in the Bilge Flats that supplies fresh water to the Gold wharf. Lara believes that destroying access to clean water will force the wheel of command to abandon Verivaltus. After this first flat is destroyed, the security of the other flats is vastly increased. It becomes nigh impossible to destroy another flat with the resources the revolutionaries have at their disposal.
The players will notice that the destruction of a flat station is devastating to the population of Verivaltus, and like all problems in Verivaltus, it affects the poor more than everyone else. Fresh water is diverted from poorer areas to keep those in the goldwharf well maintained, and the lack of freshwater and poor living conditions brings about the onset of disease. The players at this point might come into conflict with Lara, as she believes that the plight of the poor will be temporary and worthwhile if it brings about the end of the structure that allows slavery to exist in Verivaltus.