Dowburne Mystery Plot in Wonders | World Anvil

Dowburne Mystery

Whether you're new here or not, you'll be familiar with Dowburne. It's the dreariest city this side of the Bafionn Mountains, known for its damp summers and dark winters, and buildings carved from the same rough black stones that form the mountain peaks at its back. Very few people would be proud to call it home. Except for adventurers like you, of course.
  Designed for DND 5e
  1 GM + 2-4 Players
  Low Combat


Dowburne sits nestled into the Bafionn Mountains in the north of Trelerand, far from the hustle and bustle of the coastal capital. What it lacks in political importance it makes up for in damp misery, as the waterfalls of the Dow River which bisects the city coat the city in a fine mist. Few live here by choice, and it is rife with petty crime and minor troubles - perfect for a band of adventurers to solve.   As a way to get your start, your party relocated to Dowburne somewhat recently, and have been finding lost pets and extracting payment from thieves and debt dodgers. It is not exciting work, but it pays the bills on your house, which you use as both lodging and a makeshift "Adventurer's Hall".   This state was likely to continue for quite a while, or at least until the party grew tired of the city's dour atmosphere and sought more exciting pastures. But suddenly, a new job is delivered to your ever-bored receptionist.  
Dear Adventurers   I urgently require your help. A murder has taken place in the alleyway behind The Traveller's Star Inn, and my assistants are out of town. If you feel qualified for the task, please come to the inn as soon as you can, before the mist washes away any evidence.
— Yours in trust, Detective Alexus Nyr

Table of Contents

Game Master's Section Ahead


Dowburne Murder is a predominantly roleplay and investigation based oneshot, and so encounters with combat will be minimal throughout. However, depending on the party's actions and conclusions they come to, they may end up in a climatic final showdown with the killer by the end. If you would rather run the oneshot with absolutely no combat, and focus solely on skill checks and roleplay, an alternative to the final boss is given which you are free to tweak as the situation requires.   Though there is little combat, the setting and the mystery are based around DND 5e mechanics, and is tailored for a party of LVL 1 characters. You may wish to read the intro and the character considerations to the players before having them make their characters, so that they know the state of things going into the mystery and can develop characters together.   The majority of informational sections in this article are divided into 2-3 sections - Easy, Medium, and Hard Information. Easy Information is freely given by the character or easily noticeable in the environment, Medium Information requires questions to be asked or checks to be suceeded at a suggested DC of 10, and Hard Information requires check at DC15. Which check/s are appropriate for finding such information are listed, though feel free to change this in the moment and to dynamically scale the DC based on character and roleplay to suit the game you're running.
Character Considerations
  • There are not many spellcasters in the city of Dowburne itself, and the few that are there have connections to the Dowburne Wizards' Tower
  • Tieflings are the children of those cursed by the gods, and can have difficulty being trusted
  • Dowburne is majority Human and Elf, so characters of other species will be either immigrants or the descendants thereof

The Facts of the Case

Lucio Belidras is the killer, and secretly a Celestial Warlock. He murdered Jahlem Glowhand after confronting him in the back alley behind the inn. In the scuffle Lucio was stabbed in the leg, and he stabbed Jahlem in the side with his engraved letter opener. After stealing the contents of Jahlem's bag and learning who had sent him, he cast Sacred Flame on the body to try and frame Rhiannon Dowburne (a cleric) for the crime, and dumped Jahlem's body behind the inn.   His motive for doing so was his infatuation with Sorcha Marora, and her attempting to rebuff his advances by saying she was already taken. It was his attempts to find out who she was dating that led to the fatal confrontation with Jahlem.   If he is able to kill Duratir, he did so while attempting to break into Rhiannon's castle to murder her for "taking his love". He had cast Light on the dagger he took from Jahlem so that he could see in the dark, but had tried to dampen its glow with gauze. His leg injury meant he could not be as sneaky as he wanted, and when Duratir spotted him, he panicked and Eldritch Blasted him. His first shot missed, and so he attacked again.   He was able to get in and out of the inn, and up onto the castle walls, by way of a grappling hook he purchased from Hymn Fuinzar a few weeks prior.   Rhiannon and Sorcha act suspiciously due to trying to hide their relationship, which is being kept secret from the public.   Alexus Nyr is terrified of dead bodies, to the point where they will pass out if they see one. They usually have assistants to do this for them, but as they are currently out of town, that duty falls to the party.

The Murder

The Traveller's Star Inn is a cozy establishment not far from Dowburne's West Gate, and its clear an effort has been made to make it bright in spite of the dark stones its made of. The door frame is painted in a bright yellow, flowers in paint pots dot the window sills, and the hand painted sign beckons to weary travellers. But today a note has been pinned to the door, written in a rushed, shaken hand.  
Closed until further notice
— Sorcha
  Inside, its awfully quiet, far more than it should be early in the morning. Only two people sit at any of the tables, both looking glum as they eat what looks like hastily-made breakfast, and a stressed half-elf stands at the bar. She will tell the party off for not reading the sign, but upon being told they're here to see Alexus, she will bustle them through into the back, past the bar and the storerooms.   At the open back door stands Alexus Nyr, a drow dressed in the sort of coat and hat you'd expect of a noirish detective. They greet the party with relief, and fill them in on what they've learnt. Alexus has not actually examined the body, and has been standing watch at the back door to make sure the scene was undisturbed until the party arrived.
Sorcha Marora (she/her) is the half-elf innkeep at the Traveller's Star Inn. Usually full of energy and delighted to make someone's acquaintance, this morning she is shaky and extremely stressed.
Alexus Nyr (they/them) is the drow detective in Dowburne, and the go-to individual when anything unusual happens in the city. They would be taking charge on this case if their assistants were in town, but unfortunately they're all on holiday, and so they need your help.
Alexus Nyr's Findings
  • His body was found that morning by Sorcha Marora, with Alexus arriving at 7am
  • The deceased is Jahlem Glowhand, one of the servants of Dowburne's noble, Lady Rhiannon
    • He was identified by Sorcha
  • They have spoken to all the inn patrons who have left so far, and none recall hearing anything that evening
  • Alexus has only spoken briefly to Sorcha, and has not yet spoken to the two men still inside the inn
Once Alexus has explained the case, they will let the party out into the back alley. It's a narrow space between two buildings, with nary a drop of direct sunlight. Much of the space around the back door is filled up with crates and boxes full of produce and rubbish that Sorcha couldn't fit in her storage rooms. After rounding a small pile of them, they will see the body.  
Investigating the Murder Scene
  • Easy Information
    • His body has been tossed unceremoniously between two crates of product
    • Jahlem has been stabbed under his left rib cage with an engraved letter opener
    • His body sparkles slightly
    • An empty messenger bag is on the ground slightly up the alleyway
    • An empty dagger sheath is at his side
  • Medium Information
    • <Perception> A trail of blood that leads from Jahlem's body to a small pool of blood near to where the bag is situated. A far smaller and hard to notice trail can be seen leading in the opposite direction from his body, which peters out before the end of the alley
    • <Medicine> The stabbing was the fatal wound, and he was stabbed first due to the sparkles on the blade
    • <Arcana> The spell used can be identified as "radiant damage" or specifically as the spell Sacred Flame. If a member of the party knows the spell, the latter will be easier to determine
    • <Perception> The bag couldn't have been carrying anything heavy or large due to a lack of deformation, and there is a small blood smear inside the bag
Letter Opener Dowburne
Letter Opener by Wikimedia Commons
After the party has investigated to their heart's content, Alexus will ask how they are progressing, and suggest speaking to Sorcha and the inn patrons themselves. They will, of course, keep watch over the crime scene and begin arrangements for Jahlem's body to be handled.  
Sorcha Marora
  • Easy Information
    • She closed the inn's bar at 1:30am, and was asleep by 2:30
    • She heard nothing that night
    • She found Jahlem when she went out at around 6:00am to get supplies for breakfast
      • Jahlem was identified by his uniform, and the fact Sorcha had met him a few times, though she does not know him well
    • A street kid was sent to fetch Alexus in exchange for a few coins and an apple
  • Medium Information
    • <Insight> Sorcha is being mostly sincere, with two specific exceptions
      • She is not mentioning something between 1:30 and 2:30, and if pressed, will say she was cleaning
      • Her description of why she could identify Jahlem is missing something. If pressed, she says she had seen him earlier that day
Lucio Belidras (he/him) is a tall and arrogant human wizard who spends lots of time in the Traveller's Star Inn admiring Sorcha. He is sombre to start, but will quickly gain energy as he describes what he witnessed.
Lucio Belidras
  • Easy Information
    • Heard an argument happening in the alley that night
    • Saw flashes of light which he thought was lightning
    • After the argument ended, heard "horse hooves" go down the alley
  • Medium Information
    • <Persuasion/Intimidation> He can be convinced to describe the argument, which he claims sounded like a man and woman arguing about payment for something
    • There was no lightning that morning, and if pressed, Lucio claims he was drunk and wasn't sure what was happening. <Perception> He does not smell of alcohol, <Insight> or seem hungover
  • Hard Information
    • <Insight> He is lying about the argument
Ziwirn (he/him) is an eladrin bard and storyteller, performing on his treasured violin. He has an eerie calmness to him, despite the stressful energy, and this calm does not falter during the conversation.
  • Easy Information
    • He heard noises in the alley, and at the back door of the inn specifically, at around 2am
    • There were noises at the back door again at 2:15, and what sounded like a person heading up the alleyway away from the inn
    • There was another noise at the back of the inn towards 2:30
  • Medium Information
    • If challenged on how he heard any of this, he reminds them that eladrin do not sleep
    • <Insight> Ziwirn is being honest
    • He can be asked to elaborate on the noises, identifying them as footsteps and the back door opening twice.
      • He does not know what the sound at 2:30 was, but suspects it might have been Jahlem's body falling behind the crates
  After the party has finished investigating around the inn, Alexus will step in again to ask what they plan to do. They'll suggest a few options based on what the party wants to focus on:
  • If they focus on Jahlem, Alexus will tell them that his employer, Lady Rhiannon, will likely be able to tell you more about him, such as where he lives (further investigation option)
  • If they focus on the letter opener, Alexus will mention there's an engraver and metalworker in the town's square who might be able to tell the party more about the engraving on it and who might own such a thing
  • If they focus on the radiant damage, Alexus will recommend the Dowburne Wizard's Tower, and say that Tasria Loudale knows every spellcaster in the city

Dowburne Castle

Rhiannon's residence is located in the north-east rise of the city, and its tall walls can be seen from nearly every street. When the party approaches the gates they will be stopped by Duratir Exina who politely informs them Lady Rhiannon is not receiving guests. He will not allow the party to pass unless they say they are investigating Jahlem's murder, or are there on Alexus Nyr's behalf.
Duratir Exina is one of few half-orcs in Dowburne, and serves as one of Rhiannon's guards throughout her castle. Despite his imposing stature, he is very soft-spoken and gentle.
  Once inside, the guard will usher them swiftly to the keep's doors and send them inside, whereupon the party will be in the foyer. It is very lush, decked out in blues and yellow-orange, and guards stand at each door leading off from the foyer. Each will direct the party further on into the main chamber, where Rhiannon and her head guard Cosys are located. The two are having a hushed discussion as the party enters, and Cosys will demand to know why they are here. Once they have explained, she will step aside to let you speak with Rhiannon.  
Lady Rhiannon Dowburne (she/her) is the tiefling noble in charge of Dowburne, having inherited the position from her human father. She is warm and gentle, and tries to remain calm and poised at all times.
Lady Rhiannon Dowburne
  • Easy Information
    • She last saw Jahlem at midnight, sending him to run an errand
    • He was delivering a ring and a letter, and she will be very distressed to learn neither were in the bag
    • She had expected him back at around 4am, though she had long since gone to bed
    • If asked about radiant damage/Sacred Flame, she believes only she and some of her clerical servants know spells of that type, but recommends the Wizard's Tower
    • She has no idea why anyone would harm Jahlem
    • Her chief of staff, Cosys Clifflow, will know more about his delivery and route
  • Medium Information
    • <Persuasion> The errand was specifically for Sorcha, and a very persuasive character can have her admit these have been happening semi-regularly for a while. No further checks will get her to explain why
    • <Insight> The delivery matter is very embarrassing for her
Cosys Clifflow (she/her) is Rhiannon's head guard, and the young half-elf is unofficially in-charge of most of the goings-on around Dowburne Castle. She flits quickly from topic to topic, rarely stopping to pause.
Cosys Clifflow
  • Easy Information
    • Jahlem has been Rhiannon's primary message deliverer for the past three years, though he mostly delivers during the day
    • He lives on the same side of town as the inn, within a 10 minute walk, which is why he accepted the night time deliveries at all
    • In the past week he had reported feeling uncomfortable doing the delivery to both <name> and Rhiannon, as apparently he was being followed
    • He, and Cosys, had been promised that last night's delivery would be one of the last ones like it he would have to make
  • Medium Information
    • <Persuasion> She can hand over a key to Jahlem's house, though she begs you not to steal from him, as she'll be notifying his family soon
    • <Persuasion> She'll quietly tell you that she believes the Sorcha letters have been romantic in nature, though asks you not to spread this information
      • She will not say this in front of Rhiannon
  Once the party has finished speaking to Rhiannon and Cosys, the latter will escort them out, and ask that they not return unless they have more news regarding Jahlem and his killer.  

Jahlem's House

Jahlem's house is located in the shadow of the southern wall of Dowburne. The door is a dark wood and creaks under hand, revealing a cramped abode with a large amount of exposed dark brick. It is only made up for a single resident, with personal items scattered all about.  
Investigating Jahlem's House
  • Easy Information
    • Jahlem's diary is open on the desk, and can be read without any checks
      • The most recent entry says that he had attempted to deliver to Sorcha the night before, but was scared off by a taller-than-average figure with star-like eyes standing at the end of the alleyway behind the inn
      • Previous entries show that this wasn't the first time he hadn't finished a delivery due to lurking strangers, and that it always the same figure that spooked him
      • An entry from a week prior mentions picking up a ring from the engraver in Dowbourne
    • A handwritten letter is on the desk next to the diary, from Rhiannon
      • Dated to two days prior, it thanks Jahlem for his hard work, and says that "it will be done soon"
      • It also refers to a payment of a significant amount of money as a bonus, and a gift of a dagger
  • Medium Information
    • <Perception> There is no sign of the bonus, the dagger, the ring, or any letter addressed to Sorcha
    • If the party wishes to rob Jahlem, they will find a small amount of coins in a purse under his pillow (DC14), a set of nice clothes in his wardrobe, and a small carved statue of a horse on the desk


The engraver can be found in the shop adjoining the town smithy, on the west end of the town square. Once the party has passed the bellowing forge and braved the small shower of sparks coming off the smith's hammer, the shop is calm and sedate. A tiefling sits at the counter examining some recent work with a pair of small spectacles, and on the walls around him are various items for sale, such as swords and grappling hooks. He will greet the party with gruff cheer.
Hymn Fuinzar (he/him) is the engraver in residence at the Dowburne smithy. He is rightfully proud of his delicate and fine handiwork, but can come off as brusque and rude when speaking of anything else.
Hymn Fuinzar
  • The letter opener that Jahlem was stabbed with is of very fine quality, much higher than expected for citizens of Dowburne
    • In his opinion, the only people likely to be able to afford such things are Rhiannon and some members of the Wizard's Tower. If pressed on this, he'll offer "that young rich man from the coast, the tall one" as a likely candidate
  • The letter present on the opener is more likely to be a B than an R
    • Of course, if he had carved this letter opener, that would be more obvious and clear
  • He didn't hear anything amiss last night, and takes great offence if he is accused of being present due to his tiefling heritage

Wizard's Tower

Dowburne's Wizard's Tower is located in the south-east of the city, overlooking the Dow River as it cascades down the mountain. It stands out in the city for its towering height, glistening red roofs, and the clouds of strangely coloured smoke which puff from the many chimneys. The bottom floor is barely a reception area, as the desk is piled high with various books and papers, and the greeter will instead be seated on or near the wooden bench connected to the central pillar of the tower.   As the party approaches, who they are greeted by depends on when they arrive at the tower. If it is the first location they go to after the Inn, they will be greeted by Tasria, otherwise they will be greeted by Lucio. In the former case, Tasria will be in her wheelchair in the front room, reading from a large arcane tome, and Lucio will walk in during the party's conversation with her. In the latter case, Lucio is seated on one of the small benches reading from a tome decorated with a sun, and will call for Tasria and chat with them until she arrives.  
Lucio Belidras
  • Easy Information
    • When he enters, he does so with a noticeable limp and bandage on his left thigh. If he is seated, the bandage is plainly visible
      • If asked, he says this is because he fell out of bed onto his letter opener early last night, and may repeat his justification of being drunk
      • If shown the letter opener used to stab Jahlem, he will say that he thinks he put it in his room the night before and couldn't find it in the morning, and say that he was distracted from finding it by news of the murder. He says it is a family heirloom and will ask for it back
    • If asked why he stays at the inn if he lives and works in the Wizard's Tower, he says it is simply because he prefers it
  • Medium Information
    • If pressed further on his injury, he will not change his story and will simply get more flustered. <Insight> He is lying
    • He will not show the offending letter opener, saying that he left it at the inn
  • Hard Information
    • <Insight> He is not lying about the letter opener's location (aka the Inn)
Tasria Loudale (she/her) is the dwarf wizard in charge of Dowburne's Wizard's Tower. Strict but with a clear cheeky streak, she expects excellence from her fellow mages and has no tolerance for idle pratter.
Tasria Loudale
  • Easy Information
    • When shooing Lucio away, she will loudly complain about his absence and his lack of talent
    • With a description, she will tentatively identify the spell used on Jahlem as Sacred Flame
      • To her knowledge, only Rhiannon and her clerics know Sacred Flame, and few other "radiant spellcasters" are in the city
  • Medium Information
    • If asked about Lucio, she'll say she's loathe to gossip about her coworkers and students. <Persuasion> She'll say that he spends so little of his time at the tower and most of it at Sorcha's inn, and that his magical prowess is severaly lacking
      • The only spells he seems to be good at are Light and Create Bonfire
  Once all options have been exhausted, if the players have no idea or plan of how to proceed, Alexus may reappear to suggest they ponder the mystery overnight and come see them again in the morning, so that they begin the day fresh with new ideas.   If the party decides to tail Lucio owing to his suspicious behaviour, the outcomes of this are explored in the final encounter section.

Day 2

When the sun rises once again on Dowburne, there will be rapid knocking at the door of the "Adventurer's Hall". Alexus is there in a panic, as overnight there was an attack at Dowburne Castle. As they believe it might be connected to the ongoing Jahlem case, and their assistants are still not yet returned from holiday, they are here to ask that the party accompany them to the keep to investigate.   On the way over, Alexus will fill them in with what they heard from the servant who informed them.  
Alexus Nyr's Findings
  • The guard who was attacked is Duratir Exina, the half-orc guard the party spoke with yesterday
  • He was attacked while on the nightshift on the walls of the castle
  • His attacker fled without any trace
  • Duratir was found shortly thereafter by fellow guard Cosys Clifflow, who raised the alarm
  • Alexus was informed of the attack just before telling you

Dowburne Castle

Compared to when they were here yesterday, the castle is in utter panic. Four guards stand at the front gate to vet all who approach, a dozen stand on the wall, and those are just the ones who are visible. The party will not be allowed to enter unless they once again convince the guards that they are there to solve the murder. Cosys will glumly meet them once they get in, and will guide them up to the scene of the attack, atop the walls where the dozen guards stand.  
Investigating the Scene
  • Easy Information
    • The guard was attacked in between two guard towers, on a stretch of the southern wall
    • A large bloodstain marks where he fell, and smears away towards the west tower
    • A dagger wrapped in a greyish gauze sits on the stones next to the parapet, with an engraved RD at the base of the blade
  • Medium Information
    • <Perception> There is a deformation in the stones near the bloodstain, as though something hit it with great force
    • There are also scrapes on the parapet that mark where a grappling hook would have been used
  • Hard Information
    • <Perception> Looking over the edge of the wall can notice a scrap of something in the bushes at its base - going down to check will find it is a piece of gold-coloured cloth
    • <Arcana> The dagger glimmers and was likely affected with the spell Light
Cosys Clifflow
  • Easy Information
    • She was on the nightshift patrolling the outer walls, starting at 4am
    • While on the east wall, she noticed a strange light in the south, coming from just beyond the wall
    • Two shadowed figures, Duratir and a slightly shorter and far skinnier individual, stood in the light. One shouted at the other
    • The skinny figure yelled something and a crackle of energy shot out, missing Duratir
      • At this point, Cosys began running towards the south wall and called out for backup
    • Duratir ran forward and grabbed the figure, who fired another spell directly into his chest, sending him flying backwards
    • The skinnier figure disappeared over the side of the wall, leaving behind a glowing dagger
    • She attempted to render aid to Duratir when she arrived and called for help again, but he died before a cleric could get there
  • Medium Information
    • <Persuasion/Intimidation> The reason she failed the notice the light initially was that she had gotten distracted thinking about how she was going to tell Jahlem's family what happened
    • She can't remember what was shouted by either individual. As far as she knows, Duratir shouted "Halt", and the stranger said something that sounded like "Ditch"
      • <Arcana> The party suggests Eldritch Blast, and Cosys agrees that it sounded like Eldritch Blast. If a member of the party knows the spell, this is easier to figure out
  Once the party is satisfied, Alexus can suggest that they go to see Duratir's body, which Cosys says is currently in the keep's medical area. She will give directions, but both she and Alexus will stay on the wall unless the party demands they come with. Alexus will refuse to leave no matter what is attempted, making an excuse of collecting evidence.   The medical ward is a quiet place, with a few neatly made white beds and clean white cabinets dotted throughout. One bed at the far end of the room is occupied, though said occupant has been covered with a sheet. Rhiannon is the only person there, and will sadly greet the party. At their request, she'll pull back the sheet on Duratir's body.  
Duratir Exina
  • Easy Information
    • He looks mostly unharmed at a surface glance
    • A small amount of blood is present on his head and face
    • There is a significant dent in the chestplate of his armour
  • Medium Information
    • <Perception> He is holding something tightly in his right hand, which is revealed to be a silver ring with a blue stone in it
    • <Medicine> He died from a combination of the force of the spell he was struck by and his impact with the ground, and that it was probably quick
    • <Perception> It was only a single strike that caused the damage, rather than multiple hits
Rhiannon Dowburne
  • Easy Information
    • She was the cleric who attended to Duratir, though by the time she reached him it was already too late
    • Guards were sent out into the city to track down the attacker, but they found no trace of them on the streets
    • While she has little to say about Duratir, she would like to elaborate on what she said the day before
      • The reason Jahlem was in the south-west of Dowburne at such an hour was because he was delivering a proposal to Sorcha on Rhiannon's behalf
      • This was to be the culmination of a long romance, kept secret due to their difference in status
      • She now believes that the fact the bag was empty means that whoever killed Jahlem is aware of this situation, and that this puts her at significant risk
      • Given Jahlem had no enemies she knows of, it's entirely possible he was killed because of the relationship he was facillitating
  • Medium Information
    • She didn't explain most of this yesterday as she had hoped it was not relevant, and it threatens what reputation she has cultivated
    • <Persuasion> The proposal was actually a request that Sorcha elope with her, and that they had been working towards this for years
    • If asked if she knows anyone knew about the relationship, she believes it was only herself, Cosys, Jahlem, and Sorcha
      • However, she does know a few people have tried to woo Sorcha during the relationship, so if all of this is jealousy based, it could be them. Sorcha would know more
    • <Insight> She is honest and very embarrassed
    • If shown the dagger, she will identify it as the one she personally gave to Jahlem as thanks for his help, and that it's engraved with her initials because it was a gift from her father initially
      • She will also tell you to keep it until the murders are solved
    • The ring Duratir was holding is not the one she sent with Jahlem, nor one she had ever see Duratir own
  All of this complete, the party is free to decide how to proceed. If they wish to return to any of the previous locations to discuss their findings, what they can learn is below.  

Sorcha's Inn

No longer does a sign hang from the inn's front door, but pushing the door open shows it is still empty. Sorcha can be found behind the counter idly cleaning cups, and will explain that it'll likely be quiet for a while until either the murder is solved or people forget about it.  
Sorcha Marora
  • If confronted about the relationship or the letter, she will confess she did, in fact, see Jahlem the night he died
    • He arrived at 2am with the ring and Rhiannon's letter, and left at around 2:15 with a letter of response
    • The response Sorcha sent was in short "yes", and in long "Tell me when and where and I'll be there"
    • She swears that she heard no strange noises after Jahlem left, and due to the lateness of the hour she fell asleep shortly afterwards
  • If asked about jealous suitors, she'll rattle off a long list of people, including both Ziwirn and Lucio
    • She doesn't believe any of them would do something like this. <Insight> She's not sure of that statement. <Persuasion> She will admit that some of them don't take a hint very well
    • Specifically, she has told both Ziwirn and Lucio that she was already taken, and while Ziwirn took it with some grace, Lucio has continued unabated


When the party enters the engraver's shop, he is busy haggling with an elf over the price of a dagger. After the elf makes their purchase and leaves, Hymn will tell the group that the business of the adjoining smithy has boomed somewhat after the murder and the castle attack, though he knows very little about that second option.  
Hymn Fuinzar
  • Though it is not engraved, Hymn can examine "Duratir's Ring" and identify it as being a well-crafted and 'well-worn' object, pointing to the quality of the silver and the many chips and scrapes on it and the gemstone
    • If asked who might own it, he shrugs mightily and says it could be anyone with a rich ancestor, since the ring is quite a few years old and is likely an heirloom
  • He can also confirm that the RD dagger is something he was asked to engrave by Rhiannon, as part of a set of special daggers she gave to her most trusted servants

Wizard's Tower

This time, Lucio is nowhere to be seen in the tower's front room. Tasria will be found reading from a different large arcane tome to the one she was reading yesterday. Notably, the pile of scrolls and books on the desk has been lessened since the last visit, but a check will show that's because a number of them have fallen onto the floor behind it.  
Tasria Loudale
  • If the party asks about the use of Light on the dagger, and the gauze, she'll suggest the gauze was used to dim the light enough to conceal the dagger
    • It's a technique she has taught a few of her students
  • She isn't aware of any warlocks in the city
  • <Persuasion> She can speculate on whether any of her colleagues are Warlocks, and she'll quietly concede she has suspicions about Lucio
    • However, Lucio was at the tower the entirety of last night, so there's no way he could have done anything!
    • She can be convinced to let you talk to Lucio or examine his room in the tower for evidence, telling you which floor and door it is
If the players go to Lucio's room, they will not find him there.  
Lucio Belidras' Room
  • Easy Information
    • The room is very neat and devoid of much in the way of personal affects, mostly consisting of a bed, desk, and chair
    • It occupies one of the rooms in the side tower, and a window looks north-west towards the town square
    • An in-progress scroll is sat on the desk, alongside a heavy tome with sun imagery
    • There is a fireplace on the southern wall, with a few smouldering embers still remaining
  • Medium Information
    • <Investigation> Under the bed is a box, inside of which is a grappling hook and many lengths of rope. <Perception> The ends of the hook has been scuffed and blunted somewhat
    • The scroll appears to be a letter to Tasria, apologising for leaving and thanking her for something. The letter ends mid-word, as though he stopped in a hurry
    • <Perception> There are a few scraps of paper in the fireplace
    • The book, on the other hand, is written in a strange language. If any in the party know Celestial, they will identify it as such
      • <Arcana/History> it will be identified as a book about Angels, with characters who know Celestial being able to know this immediately
  • Hard Information
    • <Sleight of Hand> The fireplace scraps seem to be the remains of a letter, written in a markedly different hand than the scroll on the table. The only readable word is "yes"
    • <Perception> One of the lengths of rope is slightly frayed
    • <Perception> There are small bits of string on the window sill, and the window was definitely opened recently
If the party returns downstairs and asks Tasria about Lucio's whereabouts, she will say he left only a few moments before they arrived in order to run an errand. If she had to guess, he's probably at The Traveller's Star Inn again, like usual.  

The Final Encounter

Tavern Version
If the party chooses to confront Lucio directly and head to the Traveller's Star, they will find Lucio sat at the bar with a mug of apple juice, with Sorcha cleaning some cups. Lucio will engage in pleasant small talk with the party and ask how they seem to keep running into eachother, but it is clear he is not happy to see them. If any evidence of his wrongdoing or connections to the crimes is brought up he will grow increasingly agitated.   If the party attempt to show the fireplace scraps to Sorcha, the moment she confirms that it looks like her handwriting, Lucio will either attempt to flee (non-combat ending) or will attack the party (either the closest person or whoever handed Sorcha the letter). Combat will play out using the statblock provided at the end of this section. In the non-combat variant the party can roleplay how they prevent Lucio from leaving, or catching him once he escapes, whereupon the party can decide what to do with him.  
Trap Version
If the party instead decides to lay a trap, this can play out in multiple locations and many ways. Rhiannon's castle is the obvious location, and the party can decide what form their trap takes.   Lucio will not attempt to attack again until nightfall. You can make a Perception Check to see whether he notices the trap or not - if he does not, then he will likely blunder directly into it, and from there will either attempt to engage in combat or flee, as in the Tavern Version. If he does notice the trap, he will either attack the party first or attempt the flee, the latter of which will always alert the party. From there, how the players choose to handle it is up to them.  
Tail Version
If the party decides to follow or track Lucio to see what he does, this will necessitate finding him first. On Day 1 he will be in the Wizard's Tower for the rest of the day, while in Day 2 he can be found in Sorcha's Inn in the morning and the Tower for the afternoon/evening. He will not leave until 4am, when <Perception/DC10> he can be seen climb out of window using a rope and head north towards Dowburne Castle. On Day 1 he will have a dagger with Light cast on it, while on Day 2 he will be navigating blind. As such, the <Stealth> check will be lower in the second instance (15 and 10, respectively).   Once he reaches the wall, he will climb up with a grappling hook and encounter either Duratir (leading to Duratir's death if not stopped) or no resistance at all. If not prevented in the latter case, he will continue into the castle in his attempt to kill Rhiannon.   If Lucio notices the party, he will demand to know what they are doing following him/camping at the tower. If stopped at any point prior to climbing the wall, he will claim he was going for a walk. If stopped as he is climbing, after killing Duratir, or after he has made it over the wall, he will react angrily to the party's presence. In all of these scenarios, this can escalate into either flight or a fight, depending on GM preference.  
Lucio Belidras Statblock

Lucio Belidras

Medium humanoid, any
Armor Class: 14
Hit Points: 27 (22-33)
Speed: 30 ft.


8 -1


16 +3


17 +3


6 -2


6 -2


18 +4

Saving Throws: Wisdom +0, Charisma +6
Skills: Deception (+6), Intimidation (+6)
Languages: Common, Celestial, Elvish



Eldritch Blast
Force Damage
Repelling Force: Push hit player 10ft back  
Sacred Flame
Player must make a dex save (DC:14)
Radiant Damage  
Create Bonfire
Creates a 5ft cube of fire, players must make a dex save (DC14) when they enter its space for the first time or end their turn there  

Two Spell Slots

Guiding Bolt
Radiant Damage
Next attack from Lucio against this player had advantage  
Cure Wounds

If Lucio is killed, on his body can be found a dagger bearing the B engraving, a pouch full of coins, a ring with wings carved to either side of a shiny gem, and a note stating simply "For Her". If he is not killed, either due to non-combat or a deliberate choice of the party, these items can still be taken off him. If asked about the ring or the note, he will spit and say the former was for Sorcha and the latter was for Rhiannon. An Intimidation/Persuasion check can force him to explain his methods and motives.  
After coming to Dowburne because of a family tragedy, he fell in love with Sorcha, and attempted multiple times to court her. After being told she was dating someone else, but never being told who, he got curious. He started watching the back door of the inn, and noticed Jahlem's regular visits. Assuming Jahlem was the lover, he confronted him that night, and their argument escalated until Jahlem was dead and Lucio was injured.   Reading Sorcha's note and realising Rhiannon was her girlfriend, Jahlem attempted to frame Rhiannon for the murder using Sacred Flame, and then attempted to kill her so that Sorcha would be free to marry him. However, he was confronted by Duratir, who he killed in a blind panic before fleeing back to the tower. In the case of both the tower and the inn, he had left unnoticed using his grappling hooks, which he had bought from Hymn.
  If Lucio has been captured, Alexus and Rhiannon will be summoned to deal with his punishment, and both will accept the party's input on what that should be. Alexus leans towards imprisonment, while Rhiannon leans towards a more public display. Despite these beliefs, they can easily be convinced, since the party did the hard work.   If Lucio was killed, Alexus will be summoned to take note of the whole affair, and will surmise some of his motivations based on their sleuthing and information you've told them previously.   No matter what happens to Lucio, the party will receive their payments from Alexus, and a delivery will be made later to the Adventurer's Hall from Rhiannon of a larger amount, a note of thanks, and the promise of a favour to the party in future.
The Future
Should your players wish to keep playing in Dowburne, they will be able to find assignments from both Rhiannon and Alexus, as both see you as reliable. Alexus' tasks will follow in similar veins of solving mysteries, such as robberies or a more "orchestrated" murder, while Rhiannon's would take the form of more traditional quests. An example of one suited to a higher level party may be to talk to the "dragon god" beneath the Bafionn Mountains, as their actions threaten the city of Dowburne itself with destruction.  

Character Profiles

Alexus Nyr
Alexus Nyr
Alexus Nyr by Heroforge
Species: Drow
Age: 83
Pronouns: They/Them   Alexus Nyr is the premier detective in the city of Dowburne, having solved crimes for many decades. Despite their wealth of expertise, they have a flaw in that they absolutely cannot handle dead bodies. In those cases they rely on the help of their assistants, twin gnomes who travel into Dowburne expressely to work with Alexus for a few months at a time. Unfortunately for the usually calm and proactive drow, said assistants are on holiday when the Jahlem case comes a'calling.
Sorcha Marora
Sorcha Marora
Sorcha Marora by Heroforge
Species: Half-Elf
Age: 36
Pronouns: She/Her   Sorcha Marora is the owner and innkeep at the Traveller's Star Inn, inheriting it from her aunt just over a decade ago. She is the heart of the establishment, and many of her regulars cite her liveliness and friendly demeanour as the reason they choose that Inn over its competitors, and the fact she manages the entire thing alone is something to marvel at. This solo act, however, meant that the Inn had to close once Jahlem's body was found, as Sorcha could not handle the stress.
Lucio Belidras
Lucio Belidras
Lucio Belidras by Heroforge
Species: Human
Age: 29
Pronouns: He/Him   Lucio Belidras is a Celestial Warlock in residence at Dowburne's Wizard's Tower, though he claims to just be a wizard. He is relatively new to Dowburne, having moved up from the coast only a few months ago after the death of his father. Most known for being tall and exceptionally lazy, he spends most of his time at Sorcha's inn, and has tried unsuccessfully to woo her with his charisma and wit. His obssession with Sorcha eventually leads to the deaths of Jahlem, Duratir, and potentially Rhiannon.
Ziwirn by Heroforge
Species: Eladrin
Age: 81
Pronouns: He/Him   Ziwirn is an eladrin bard from abroad, having chosen to travel to Dowburne on account of its famous dreary atmosphere. With his treasured violin, which he claims was handmade for him by a master in his home country, he has attempted to inject some levity and fun into the evenings in Sorcha's inn. Though energetic in his performances, he is eeriely still and calm otherwise.
Rhiannon Dowburne
Rhiannon Dowburne
Rhiannon Dowburne by Heroforge
Species: Tiefling (Human)
Age: 34
Pronouns: She/Her   Rhiannon Dowburne is the Lady of the city, inheriting her nobility from her human father. Her being a tiefling is rumoured to be a result of her father's ill judgement before she was born, as it is said he angered a great dragon god within the Bafionn Mountains. She tries to be warm and friendly despite the harsh treatment she can recieve, and is a dedicated Light Cleric. Unbeknownst to her people, she is secretly dating Sorcha Marora, and planned to elope with her before Jahlem's murder.
Cosys Clifflow
Cosys Clifflow
Cosys Clifflow by Heroforge
Species: Half-Elf
Age: 25
Pronouns: She/Her   Cosys Clifflow is the young half-elf in charge of Rhiannon's guards at Dowburne Castle, and seemingly 17 other jobs at once. She can be found flitting from duty to duty throughout her shifts, and even when her work is done for the day she does not cease to move about and get things done. Though scatterbrained, she takes great care, and has gained Rhiannon's complete trust and loyalty. Jahlem's death has affected her deeply, leaving her more prone to distraction.
Hymn Fuinzar
Hymn Fuinzar
Hymn Fuinzar by Heroforge
Species: Tiefling
Age: 52
Pronouns: He/Him   Hymn Fuinzar is a middle-aged tiefling, and every year is plain to see on him. He has spent much of that life at work as a metalsmith and engraver, though the loss of an arm in a smithing accident relegated him solely to engraving quite early in his career. His work is very precise and delicate, and his pride in his accomplishments is matched only by his gruffness when approached about any other subject.
Tasria Loudale
Tasria Loudale
Tasria Loudale by Heroforge
Species: Dwarf
Age: 158
Pronouns: She/They   Tasria Loudale has been head of Dowburne's Wizard's Tower for over a century now, and is as much a fixture in the city as the towering building itself. Her strictness has ensured that the tower operates smoothly and that all of its rules are followed, that it has not ensured that desks are kept neat and organised. Despite her reputation for being hard-nosed, she has a cheeky streak and can be persuaded to tell many a tall tale about the wonders and distasters that have occured in the tower during her time there.
Duratir Exina
Duratir Exina
Duratir Exina by Heroforge
Species: Half-Orc
Age: 37
Pronouns: He/Him   Duratir Exina was one of the few half-orcs in Rhiannon's employ, working as one of her guards. Though his large build made him suited for the job of warding off troublemakers, his kind and soft-spoken demeanour did not, and he received no end of good-hearted teasing from his colleagues. Despite that gentleness, he was wholly committed to his duty, willing even to give his life in an effort to keep those around him safe from harm.
Jahlem Glowhand
Jahlem Glowhand
Jahlem Glowhand by Heroforge
Species: Human
Age: 22
Pronouns: He/Him   Jahlem Glowhand was one of Rhiannon's most well-trusted servants, working as her personal messenger throughout the city. Having been raised in one of its twisting side streets he knew the city by heart, and was chosen for the task of delivering letters between Rhiannon and Sorcha due to his skill in avoiding the notice of others. Though loyal to Rhiannon, he was not the sort to endanger his life, and complained a few times of the risks a night delivery entailed. For his service, Rhiannon planned to ensure he was comfortable for the rest of his life.

Cover image: Dowburne Mystery by Isaac Thompson


Author's Notes

I've literally never written or run a one-shot in my life, and this is probably less of a "document for use by others" and more a "document for use by me, when I hypothetically run this oneshot in 7 years"

Please Login in order to comment!
24 Apr, 2021 12:28

I liked the gist of the plot, but reading it, it seems written more for a reader than a GM.   As a GM, I want to know upfront who the killer was, what red herrings are present, why the so-called investigator is seemingly not doing anything etc. It is all eventually explained, but I rather not have to be joining the dots as I read an adventure. I am the GM, I need to understand the dots, not join them. A few times during the adventure, I had to use the search function to figure out what was happening. For example, when Duratir Exina is killed and it was mentioned that the PCs have met them, I could not remember when had that happened or who was this person.   I liked the adventure and I loved the presentation style of information into easy, medium, and hard to acquire information. That definitely makes it very easy for the GM to see all the avenues and provides a good amount of knowledge to answer the player questions. The one thing that I feel like PCs may want to do that was not covered was: what happens if the PCs want to tail Lucio? The wound is pretty suspicious, so I think it is likely some PCs may decide to follow him, spy on him etc... I ask this particularly because the adventure gives guidance on what to do if the PCs don't know how to proceed, but not so much on if they do.

Once all options have been exhausted, if the players have no idea or plan of how to proceed, Alexus may reappear to suggest they ponder the mystery overnight and come see them again in the morning so that they begin the day fresh with new ideas.
  All in all, the PCs were very well fleshed out and gave a good overall impression of the city and the setting. I liked all the potential research avenues, such as having an engraver in town which may provide the PCs with small, but not insubstantial information.   Do you plan on running the one-shot? Or have you already run through this scenario?