So other than a few minor personal projects (Nolan hunting through Sharn for great restaurants and exotic recipes and Jack trying to convince Magnus to help construct an Alchemy golem using a Manual they found in the Whitehearth facility) the Order had little plans for the glut of time they were left with and considering the last time they had time to kill they ended up causing labor riots...I needed to find something for them!
So after flipping through the eberron Player's guide I found an option which allows characters to purchase "shares" in an expedition to Xendrik and other exotic locales. In exchange for an initial investment they may roll on a table for a random reward (potentially ending up losing cash on the deal). So with a few modifications I create an alternative system. Instead of purchasing shares in an expedition these would be "mini-adventures" which each character can engage in initially (with the "purchase cost" representing the price of supplies, transportation and information). In addition to the standard table (which is for the most part identical to the one in the player's guide) I included a "risky venture" option requiring a greater investment but with the possibility of greater rewards. I'll include both tables at the end of the post. Each "roll" on the table took about a month of time.
So pretty much everyone in the Order (except Magnus who is otherwise busy) decides to invest in their individual sidequests:
Jack Struck gold, going for the "risky" adventure every time and always managing to make a profit in the form of cash, valuable spell components and ancient artifacts. In fact, after 4 or so months Jack has made enough profit to completely fund the creation of "Nurse" his alchemical golem (modified to medium size rather than large and disguised with a heavy robe to resemble a silent warforged).
Glorin had a tendency to collect cursed antiquities or trudging through diseased swamps. Fortunately his excellent saving throws hold him in good stead and he manages to avoid any serious issues. However he makes little profit until he finally gets a big break. A ship he is sailing on is commandeered by several Brelish soldiers and non-other than King Boranel's brother. They're pursuing a rogue sorcerer and when they finally catch up the sorcerer manages to disable the his pursuers but Glorin manages to overcome his spells and slay him. For saving the king's brother he's rewarded with a hefty cash reward and an honorary membership to the Redcloaks (including his own fancy cloak).
Nolan has mixed luck. He unfortunately has several "bad maps" and at one incident where a noble he was working for was killed by a bullette. Overall he broke even.
Everyone else had almost universally terrible luck. In fact all together the team had so many "bad map" results that we had to make it a plot point...a scummy goblin merchant who set up shop in the Adventurer's district and starting selling faked (or "used") treasure maps. The Order decides that they should pay him a visit and ensure that they get a refund...and that he takes up a new occupation. They show up to find him packing his bags in the company of two heavily armed bugbear bodyguards. After attempting to squirm his way out of a refund he sics the bugbears on the team but an intimidate roll from Glorin and Nolan makes them hesitate...then Nolan asks just how much they're being paid. After offering them twice as much to take a break they're left alone with the merchant...when the true terror strikes.
A high-pitched, reedy voice from outside announces the arrival of Jin Tamlin, bandit extraordinare! and his faithful sidekick, Gimble! Both the Order and the goblin merchant begin panicking.
You see they've run into Jin before and while he was deadly the true danger lies in just how freaking annoying the little bastard was. Jin is a halfling fighter/Master Thrower with a speciality in darts. In fact due to an obscene amount of weapon focus, feats and throwing tricks the little monster was practically a machine-gun...able to toss over a dozen total darts in a single round and accurate enough to penetrate even Glorin and Nolan's defenses. This is combined with the support of Gimble...his gnomish sidekick and "announcer"...a Bard with the perform (bragging) skill to help enhance Jin (usually while hiding behind illusions and invisibility himself). Together they create a perfect storm of deadliness and annoyance.
This time Jin shows up on a flying carpet outside the window while Gimble shouts from the bridge outside, egging him on. The room is soon full of broken glass and flying darts. The Order takes some minor wounds as they dive for cover near the doorway. After a bit of discussion they decide to charge outside. Unfortunately they find Jin hovering overhead and Gimble has multiplied himself with a mirror image. The following battle can be expressed best through Gimble's annoying, high-pitched and repetitive dialogue:
"Come on then you fools! You stand under the eye of Jin Tamlin...master extraordinare!"
"Ho-ho! Tremble with fear and wet your knickers! Look upon the darts of Jin ye fatty and despair!"
*brandishing an apparently empty hand* "Foolish...idiots! Now you shall feel the sting of my invisible blade!"
Unfortunately for Jin, Tayin had a clever idea and whipped out a wand of dispel magic (formerly belonging to peski) and managed with a lucky roll to dispel his flying carpet. The carpet plummets somewhere into the depths of Lower Sharn (probably making an excellent piece find for some poor schlub). Jin is saved by his ring of feather falling and a grappling hook.
Now, before I relate this next part I should mention that as the night goes on it becomes easier and easier to persuade me to do very, very silly things. You see one of Gimble's pieces of equipment is a Bag of Tricks and he got lucky one turn and rolled "rhino". Unfortunately his rhino was no match for Glorin and was in the process of being quickly dispatched. Now...Peski's player had just finished his newest character a (a Shifter barbarian named Pax) and was itching to be introduced into play. His impatience was quickly overcoming any desire for a "reasonable" introduction. So things got...weird.
The rhino began to bulge oddly in the middle and then, in a shower of gore that nearly made the druid faint it burst apart revealing a huge barbarian wielding a greatsword. Pax screams "GIMBLE!" and charges at the gnomish bard.
What follows is blood and screaming and more furry animals being thrown about (this time without barbarians inside). The fight ends with Jin Tamlin dead (eliciting a spontaneous cheer from all nearby buildings...Jin had a reputation) but Gimble escaped, swearing revenge. The goblin merchant gladly hands over a refund, and then some, to the brave men and women who had slain Jin.
Pax introduces himself to the Order and (lacking any knowledge of how he got to Sharn and anywhere to stay) he hangs out with them for a little while...eventually proving his worth and becoming a full team member. We never clearly decided on just how he got inside a magically summoned rhino but I think it involved an accident with a wand of wonder, some sovereign glue and a plate of spaghetti.
That just about covers the Order's downtime. When we return the plot will get back on track. Like I promised here's a copy of the tables I used for random solo-sidequests:
Each venture takes a month’s time and requires an investment of 1000 gp (simple) or 2,000 gp (risky). Each venture earns the player a roll.
1-15: 1,200 gp and a dakhanni antiquity (worth 500 gp) but the idol is cursed and spending it requires a DC 17 will save (bestow curse CL 7) or begin transforming into a goblin until the idol is returned.
16-30: Bad weather and hostile valenar elves force you to return early. 400 gp and one dakhanni antiquity
31-36: You uncover a lost goblin temple but most of your spoils end up stolen. 600 gp, contracts a disease or a spellblight
37: Your lightning rail collides with something on the track, you survive and are given 2 complementary round trip tickets to any destination of your choice.
38-39: Hired to protect a noble on safari, who gets eaten by a bullette. 400 gp but can bring it to 1000 if they sell the story to the Korranberg chronicle.
40-55: 1,100 gp plus 2d10 dragoneye acorns.
56-78: 1,400 gp plus 2d6 pearls (12d12 gp value).
79-80: No clue. You have no memory of the expedition and are found wandering dazedly from the wilderness but your pockets are full of gold. 1,800 gp and a giant antiquity.
81-90: 2,200 gp.
91-95: 2,300 gp and an orcish friendship necklace (+2 to cha rolls with gatekeeper orcs).
96-98: 2,700 gp and you may call in a favor from the Kech Volar for a week’s service from an honor guard (3 4th level hobgoblin fighters, 2 2nd level bugbear barbarians).
99-100: 1,500 gp and a minor wondrous item.
1-15: 2,500 gp and a ceremonial moderate magical weapon. The ghosts of it’s past wielders will seek and attempt to slay you (spawns 1d4 wraiths which try and kill you).
16-30: Bad treasure map. Nothing of worth.
31-36: The ancient ruin has already been looted. One goblin artifact.
37: Lost in the swamp, you contract 1d3 diseases.
38-39: No treasure but you become romantically involved with a noblewoman after foiling assassins sent after her. She breaks your heart after a few weeks and leaves you with 1,500 gp. You’re hounded by journalists (can earn 3,000 gold through interviews) but giving in will cause 4 assassins to be sent after you (5th level gnome rogues).
40-55: 2,500 gp plus 2d8 Irian crystals
56-78: 3,000 gp plus 2d6 syberis dragonshards but there is a curse or spellblight that attaches.
79-80: 4,000 gp plus Potion of non-detection and an oil of greater magic weapon (+5).
81-90: 3,500 gp and you can memorize an artifact spell or gets a giant artifact.
91-95: 5,000 gp and a favor from a dragonmarked house (a one-shot use of the favored in house feat)
96-98: 6,000 gp and a title/knighthood/etc.
99-100: 3,000 gp and a moderate wondrous item.