Hi all. I'm starting a new 4e Eberron campaign in the next few weeks and I'm planning on converting several adventures from the old print version of Dungeon. One of the adventures that caught my eye is Mad God's Key, an urban adventure set in Greyhawk. I have some ideas on how to convert it to Eberron, but I was hoping to get some ideas from the community as well. For those of you who aren't familiar with the adventure I'll describe briefly. Spoilers ahead!
The adventure concerns the theft of a magic key crafted by the archmage Zagig before his ascent to godhood. The key is capable of opening any lock in the city of Greyhawk, and after Zagig abandons the city the key is lost for hundreds of years before it turns up in the possession of a locksmith named Theldrat. A cult of Vecna needs the key to open a necromantic tome with a powerful magic lock, so they infect a gang of thieves (the Green Dagger Gang) with a terrible disease then promise them a cure if they steal the key. In the mean time the cult steals the book from the Greyhawk library while disguised as clerics of Boccob. The PCs get involved after they save Theldrat's shop from looters after the key is stolen. When the watch arrives they seem distracted and unhelpful, explaining that a valuable book was stolen from the city library and they don't have time to waste on a petty burglary. Theldrat hires the PCs to track down the key before it can be put to nefarious uses.
There is a big chase across a series of barges as the PCs track down the thief. Then the PCs must enter the thieves' den and confront their leader. The leader explains that he already turned the key over to a cleric of Boccob with a strange book in exchange for a cure (that didn't work). The PCs investigate the temple of Boccob and the library and discover a clue (in the form of a stone amulet) that leads them to an ancient cairn outside town. After that its a straight forward dungeon crawl as the PCs explore the cairn, fight Vecna's followers, and deal with the undead horrors summoned by the tome. In the end the key looses its magic powers opening the magic tome.
My campaign is set in Sharn where the PCs are private inquisitives on retainer to a mysterious (and anonymous) patron. As such, several characters and organizations in this adventure need to be converted: Zagig, the cult of Vecna, the clergy of Boccob, etc... I need to answer the following questions:
Who created the magic key and why? How did it end up in the possession of a middling locksmith?
Who are the Green Daggers?
What organization should replace the cult of Vecna? This need not be a religious cult. This also begs the question of what's in the locked tome? It should be something the organization in question wants. It doesn't necessarily need to be necromantic in nature, as long as it contains dangerous forbidden lore.
Who should replace the clergy of Boccob?
Here are some of my ideas, but remember I'm looking for more!
The key was created by a mad Kundarak heir obsessed with finding new ways to defeat his own wards. The key was lost during the War of the Mark only to be found by Theldrat's father during the Last War.
Alternatively, the key was made Merrix d'Cannith (the elder) when he grew tired of keeping track of all the keys necessary to open his various vaults and workshops. He gave the key to a warforged body-guard for safekeeping before his death, but said warforged took advantage of Merrix's death to seek a life of adventure. He sold the key to Theldrat's father before disappearing into Xen'drik.
I'm thinking the Green Dagger Gang is actually the Dagger River Gang, a band of river smugglers who normally work the northern stretches of the Dagger River, but have recently begun operations in the Hilt. They are hoping to secure a place in the Boromar Clan's organization and so are paying the halflings double the usual tribute expected. This, plus bribing the Cliffside watch captains and excise men has kept the gang poor – too poor to afford Jorasco healing when they find themselves coming down with a terrible disease.
This is the question I'm having the hardest time with. I have four ideas. The first is to replace the cult of Vecna with the Emerald Claw. This requires no changes to the content of the tome as the Claw would likely be interested in acquiring new undead minions. I like this idea because it is a straight-forward conversion of the adventure.
The second idea is to have the cultists be a branch of the Children of Winter who have taken it upon themselves to purge Breland of the weak in anticipation of a second Mourning which they believe will strike Breland next. They believe the tome contains the secrets of the Lady of Plague and by unleashing ancient diseases across Breland (starting with Sharn) they will harden the population for the coming Winter. I like this idea because infecting thieves then blackmailing them to do your dirty work seems like something the Children might do. It also adds a degree of urgency to the PCs mission once they discover the plan (stop the Children before they infect the city).
The third idea is to use House Tarkanan. The setup would be similar to using the Children of Winter, above, except that the House simply wants to add the knowledge to their repertoire, using it to enhance their assassinations and otherwise using it on behalf of the highest bidder. I like this idea because House Tarkanan is an organization native to Sharn, where the vast majority of my campaign will be taking place, and is thus draws the PCs a little deeper into the city, the campaign, and the lore of Eberron.
The final idea is to have the cultists be a group of students from Morgrave University. The students are in a secret society dedicated to studying and reviving the lore of the Closed Circle. The tome contains some of the Closed Circle's lore, but the Esoteric Order of Aureon bound it closed with a powerful magic lock and stored the tome in a secret vault of Morgrave's library. I like this idea because it explains how the villains learned of the tome, and also because it answers question 4 (the clergy of Boccob become the Esoteric Order). I have two players interested in playing arcane classes, so this idea also serves to introduce them to Breland's wizards' circles.
Most likely I'll use clergy from the Great Hall of Aureon at Morgrave University to replace the clerics of Boccob. The villains, who ever they are, disguise themselves as a priest of Aureon to gain access to the secure vaults of Morgrave's library. They then continue with this ruse to deceive the thieves they blackmail into stealing the key. If I make the villains members of the Closed Circle, then one of the priests of Aureon is a wizard in the Esoteric Order who can explain what the tome contains and why its so dangerous.
Thoughts? Is there some other organization that I should consider for the villains or the victims? Anyone else run this adventure in Eberron? Thanks for the advice!