Related Article: NPC guide to Agatha the Banshee.
The only two hooks we’re given for the Agatha the Banshee quest are from sister Gaerele, a Harper who lives in Phandalin and Hamun Kost, a lone red wizard digging around Old Owl Well. Both of them want the answers to trivia questions which aren’t very interesting. Sister Gaerele wants to know the “location of a spell book belonging to a legendary mage named Bowgentle” for which she offers 3 healing potions.1. Hamun kost wants to know “the name of the wizard who built the tower at old owl well”. In return Kost may give the party some “information they need”.2.
Not only are the questions a bit lackluster, but the party may not even meet sister Gaerele in the first place because the rumor that “she came back from somewhere a little haggard” is not as compelling as the more immediate issue of the Redbrands bleeding the town dry.
This problem, however, is easily solved if sister Gaerele left town for some reason and never came back. Further investigation by the party reveals that she has received word from her Harper contacts that a red wizard has arrived in the region and they task her to investigate it. Through various clues, the party can discover that Sister Gaerele has been captured by Hamun Kost. Should they rescue her, she may trust them enough to give them the Agatha quest.
Clues to Old Owl Well
At this point you may want to brainstorm possible clues that sister Gaerele or her harper contacts may have left behind to lead the party to Old Owl Well. Here are some possibilities:
- Gaerele could leave behind a silver mirror (used in scrying) and beside it is a sketch of Old Owl Well. However, this would make her at least a 9th high cleric and you’d have to explain how Hamun Kost, a less accomplished wizard, got the jump on her–which could be doable if she had let her guard down.
- The Harper letter to Gaerele mentions Old Owl Well to begin with.
- The Harper letter to Gaerele states that Hamun Kost was seen headed up the Triboar Trail. On the trail, the party could encounter two zombies carrying a handcart full of dead bodies toward Old Owl Well (more diggers for Hamun Kost’s excavation). The zombies would ignore they party unless attacked, and the wheel ruts obviously turn off to the location of the Well. The “squeak-squeak” of the handcart in the middle of the night is a lot of fun to play out.
- Someone close to sister Gaerele tells the party where she went. Daran Edermath would be a good candidate for this, since they’re neighbors.
- Of course, you can always have the Daran Edermath hook3. Although I envision Edermath as a retired adventurer who has “seen too much” and just wants to make his cider. Having him as an active agent of the Order of the Gauntlet doesn’t fit for me.
You can also try the Scryberries hook below. In the two runs I’ve done of Lost Mines both parties actually had to cast a vote to decide whether or not to rescue Gaerele or deal with the Redbrands. One party voted to go after Gaerele first, and the other went to rescue Gaerele after they had cleansed Phandalin.
How I ran it: Scryberries!
When the party approaches sister Gaerele’s house, they notice that a faint blue light emanates from one of the windows. When they open the door, they find a stalk growing out of the ground from which 3 glowing berries hang. Sister Gaerele, through her connection to her Goddess (I changed it from Tymora to Mielikki because the scryberries had more of a nature goddess vibe to them) has, through her divine magic fostered the growth of these berries. Should someone ingest a berry, they’re granted a vision of the the Red Wizard, Old Owl Well, and the surrounding Sword Mountains. You may even grant a vision of the zombies and Sister Gaerele being tied up. A nature check (because of the mountains) or a history check (because of the well) will reveal a more specific location. If they fail the check, they can always ask people in the town about it. Sister Gaerele had already eaten one berry, found where Hamun Kost was and left these for whomever might come after (perhaps another Harper).
Better Questions for Agatha
Finally we need to address the trivia question issue. The questions that Hamun Kost and sister Gaerele ask Agatha should have more stakes and make the party think twice about asking the question. Hamun Kost should feel reluctant to give the question to the party, as it gives them a clue as to what he’s searching for at Owl Well or perhaps his greater plans. He considers having sister Gaerele captive good enough leverage, however, to ensure that the party won’t betray him.
Similarly Sister Gaerele’s question should be vital to Harper interests, and while perhaps Bowgentle’s spellbook may have some rare 9th level spells, magic items, and locations of powerful enemies are much more interesting.
Some possible questions for Hamun Kost
- Where is the [powerful sounding magical item]? This could be an important item for later in the campaign. Perhaps it’s currently in possession of some powerful being so pursuing it would be foolhardy.
- A weird question like: “What was Arthindol’s favorite animal?” Perhaps down in Old Owl well there’s a magic door that can only be opened by knowledge of this odd bit of information.
Some possible questions for Sister Gaerele
- Where is the [powerful sounding magical item]? This works just as well for Sister Gaerele and her harper interests.
- Who is the leader of [insert evil organization here] and where can they be found?
- What is the reason for the red wizard activity on the Sword Coast?
It should be noted that the answers to some of these questions go beyond the scope of divination magic in DnD 5e. However, since Agatha is an ethereal being, it can be explained that she has access to greater divination magics than mere mortals do.
Any Additional Hooks?
What about you? How have you brought your players to Agatha the Banshee/Old Owl Well?