Campaign Idea- Need help fleshing out

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Hi, I'm Dan, I'm new to these forums. Looking to make a good first impression and also to get help fleshing out a campaign idea. So, here it is.

The PC's are in a small, fantasy-y boring little town(need help naming the town) because they've been summoned by their king to go to that town and find a ruthless serial killer- known as "The Snake of Death." They go to town's house of law-basically a police station- and are briefed that the snake of death has been killing for years, usually takes a couple victims a month, and the town is on high alert following news that he took another victim. The Snake of Death is very tall, kills silently, skilled in hand-to-hand combat, and has his name because he has snakes that do the final killings for him. 

The chief of law- police chief- tells the PCs that they can take one of his three deputies along with them to help on their quest. The PCs get to interview the three deputies and choose who to take along with them. I need help creating the deputies' characters, their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, names, and such.

Once they've chosen a deputy (or none at all) to take with them, the next logical course of action is to investigate the crime scene of the Snake of Death's last killing. I need help fleshing out the details of that murder, who was killed, where, etc. At the crime scene, the PCs (or deputy if the PCs need to be steered) find a slip of paper that says "The next one will be at sundown in the Horse and Roses tavern on the fifth moon of October. The other police people swear that that slip of paper wasn't there the first time they looked. Anyways, the PCs go the the Horse and Roses tavern at dusk, because that day i the fifth moon of October, conveniently, and they see a dude there being all evil and terrorizing people and asking people to give him their money and valuable things, while proclaiming himself to be the Snake of Death. If they're smart, they'll investigate and find that the dude isn't the Snake of Death, he's just a copycat. If they're not smart and they just kill the dude, another killing by the Snake of Death will happen, proving that he wasn't the Snake of Death. If they capture him and take him to jail, he will be found dead in his cell, with the message "There is only one Snake of Death" written on the walls in blood. If the PCs let him get away, he will be found dead in his home with that written on the walls. Anyways, no matter what happens, they'll find out that he wasn't the real thing.

That little episode will send them around the town and eventually the whole world looking for the Snake of Death, and that will be the campaign.

Stuff I need help with:

Who is the Snake of Death really? Is it a he? or a she? Why do they do what they do? How do they do it without leaving a trace?

What will the next adventure be? What will the clues be that lead the PCs down that path?

And just any ideas you have for improving the campaign, making it more interesting, let me know, this is an open discussion. Any feedback at all, post it. Thanks! 
For the town name, you could take the classical approach and just mix up adjectives and nouns (Greyhawk springs to mind) or perhaps something slightly forshadowing like Serpent's Bluff or it could be named after a local hero, at which point just select a name that appeals to you and add the word Fort infront of it or burg to the end (Fort Greenhilt or Dietrichsburg).

For the deputies, I recommend you take a look at the Dungeon Master's Guide 2, starting on pg 27 there is a guide given over simply to creating companion creatures and even given suggestions for different levels of play. The different roles they occupy will probably point towards their repective weaknesses and personalities, for instance an elf scout will probably be fairly patient and observant, while also being deadly in battle but also ratehr delicate. For their names, I would just look at the Player handbooks for the repective racial entries and create random names from the examples given there. 

Your comments about the Snake of Death being able to control serpents seems to fit in very well with either the god Zehir (or any other evil god associated with serpents) or perhaps the yaun-ti (or both). You could play the assassin as being a "priest" or devoutee to Zehir, with every murder a sacrifice to his/her dark god, with the ultimate goal being to either completely eliminate all religious oppoenents (read, every cleric of a half-way decent god) or sacrifice enough souls to his deity to give it strength enough to emerge in the natural world and usher in a new age of reptiline terror. If you go with him being connected to the yaun-ti, then he could be one of the yaun-ti's in disguise (I recall one of the varients being almost human in apperance and bred solely for the point of infiltration), if this is the case, then perhaps all of the murder victims are representitives to a greater or lesser extent of political powers (the local mayor or duke etc.). Following such a murder the long lost "heir" of the victim might suddenly turn up to fill in the recently vacated throne, with the heir actually being another yaun-tiin disguise. If you were feeling particularly evil, you might make the PCs patron be one such person, who is using the PCs as unwitting pawns and trying to manipulate them into eliminating potentially dangerous threats (for instance, that supposed "evil cult" they destroyed might actually have been a gathering of legtimately concerned citizens dressed in heavy robes so as to conceal their identity from the local yaun-ti spy/spies).

The murder method, would depend on the assassin's ultimate goals and ability. A priest of zehir probably isn't going to be particularly worried about the murders being discovered, so the bodies would have been left at the scene of the crime, which would probably have been whatever was most convinient at the time (bedroom, an abandoned alley). On the other hand, a yaun-ti spy with the intention of infilitrating the local government might be more concerned with stealth, and the PCs or local law enforcement group might have only accidentally come across the body, unless they were meant to (you could have it be that the Yanu-ti want's one body to be found and then draw the guards on a wild goose chase, givening the assassin time to work unaccosted). 

For murder method, why not involve the snakes? They would leave no evidence that a human or sentient creature would, and there are serpents to fill just about every type of murder situation (boas for strangulation or water based kills, cobras for their venom, you could even create your own breed of snake for the story. Something like a  spectral viper might be interesting, as it could enter and leave by phasing through the doors/walls.)

Hope that helps.
My only concern would be too much of a chase and never being able to catch the bad guy.
As for the who, what, where questions...leave them unanswered for a while. Spark the players curiosity about the mystery of the Snake of Death. 
I would name the town, 'Shady Nook"...the perfect place for the Snake of Death..
Starting with the town...

What sort of town is it? Farming, smithing, port/trading?  Is there a theme to it that would lead to having a defined name?

Oft times if the city doesn't call for a certain type of name I just make one up from the words around me at the time of creation by taking parts of words and combining them or moving them around.

EX:
The city of DaJoi (taken from Date Joined below our user names)
Giants Row (taken from your own name and suitable for a port town as a play on words.)

Flesh out the city itself some in theme and nature and the name of the town will either come to you or you can use the methods mentioned here or above.

Once we have the name we can move on to the next parts.

My 2 cents anyway.


-Mallacord

 
Town naming. Pick a prefix like North ,south east West. Perhaps upper or lower or greater or lesser. Maybe a color or metal. Then use a suffix. Things like -dell,-Boro,-burg,-cove,-ton,-town,-ville,-ham,-shire,-mont,-let and -land. if fact why nostart a demographic folder where you have sheet of of town suffixes and prefixes for later use? you could also add to this folder npc names?

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