Tainted Inheritance, Part 1
If the players are based in the town, they hear that Mordant is very sick and medicine, prayers and magic are no longer helping. (He has cancer.) If they are newcomers to town they arrive a couple days after Mordant's death. If they are visitors to town, the GM should make sure that they party has a reason to hang around for a week or two. (Perhaps they have been offered a job as a guard on a river boat but they have to wait for it to come into port, then it is late.) In any-case Mordant soon dies.
The players should at this time bump into a wizard. This wizard is dressed in Blood Red robes and is associated with some group that the players dislike (but are not at war with). The wizard will say something sarcastic and or nasty to the PC's (if this will not result in an immediate attack by the PC's on him) otherwise to some NPC who has messed up in a minor way. In any case this wizard should remain nameless and will go into a boarding house. This wizard has been hired by Mort and will be hidden from this point forward.
A couple days after Mordant's death, the new will is revealed. There is a big screaming match at the manner house (some servants saw the whole thing and gossip about it in town). That evening everyone is talking loudly about it in the tavern where the party is hanging out. A couple of Preetem Carrol's brothers and a few others of his family are outraged that their brother's wife and children have been 'beggared'. They are telling everyone who will listen that Sheena and her kids are being cheated by those selfish thieves! A couple of Mort's friends start arguing, while a couple more duck out of the bar. Both sides loudly refer to what Mordant 'really' wanted. The Carrol family refers to earlier wills, but since they don't know what were in those wills other than they are 'fair' their arguments are fairly weak. Then the rest of Mort's gang shows up with Mort leading them. He loudly threatens the Carrol family for 'slandering' him. They jeer at him claiming that his reputation is so low it is impossible for him to be slandered.
In this exchange it is important to have Mort make a strong impression on the players. He should be drunk, loud and aggressive. He should also be a snob, rubbing the lower status of the Carrol brothers in their noses. He will insult Preetem which will enrage the Carrol brothers since 'our brother saved your best ship while you partied, you coward!'
One of Mort's friends will try to hire the players to fight for Mort, 'if a fight starts'. They will pay 1 copper piece to each player. (If the players accept this deal they will be cheated as the friend will pocket the money and vanish.)
Eventually a brawl breaks out. Unless the players step in, Mort's thugs will clean up their opponents badly hurting the youngest of the Carrol brothers. This bar fight is fought with fists, beer mugs and bits of furniture. If the players draw weapons or use deadly force, they should be hunted down and thrown in jail. Make sure they know that this is not a place to kill people.
The next day the players hear some sort of argument going on near the temple. If they investigate they will hear the last half of this argument.
One of the priests (Pettieff) is loudly arguing with Emmeni. He is talking about what was in the 'true will' (the 2nd will), which he copied the rough notes into an official copy. He is letting everyone know that 'tho Mordant was a mean boss, he treated all of his children FAIRLY in his will!' Emmeni ignores his comments and interrupts asking him if he shouts the contents of all private papers he copied to the 4 winds. When he tries to explain that this is important, she sneers at him and asks if the high priest has given him orders about talking about the will. He mutters something about he does not think so (it is obvious that he is lying). She loudly says that the High Priest has some specific orders for him and after insulting his intelligence, piety and discretion, she storms off.
This is a chance for the players to talk to the Pettieff. He will tell them the contents of the 2nd will (he does not know about the 3rd will) and will say he thinks that Emmeni and Mort have paid off the High Priest because the High Priest has given everyone orders not to challenge the new will that Emmeni and Mort have found. Pettieff is outraged, and is especially angry how Sheena and her children have been treated.
If the players ask he can give a great deal of background information. He can estimate the value and income of the families wealth but his estimates will be from 40% to 150% too high for each of the major assets.
If there is a thief in the party and the thief is in the lower class part of town he or she can hear some rumors. They are saying that Mordant's mind was not so good towards the end, and he made several new wills. They will mention the will that was left with the Baron (will number 3) and say that another one was given to a priest called Metzz. However Metzz was told to rip it up two days later. (This is a lie.)
If the party tracks down Metzz, he will say that a will was written which spilt the estate between 'my 3 children, Mort, Sheena and Zaff'. Metzz made a copy of the will and gave it to Mordant to sign. Later he asked why Emmeni didn't get anything. Mordant was surprised he forgot her, and ripped the will up after re-reading it.
A couple weeks ago, Mordant summoned Metzz and dictated the last will. Metzz asked Mortant if he really wanted to give almost all to Emmeni, and Mortant said "Yes, she is the most loyal child I have!".
Metzz thinks that Mordant was confused by the pain of his disease, but insists that the 4th will is real.
(Everything Metzz says is a lie. He is a brother of one of Mort's gang member and is being bribed to help support the fake will.)
NOTE: In this culture, someone being not of sound mind is NOT a valid reason to overthrow a will. If Mordant was mentally confused before he died, his last will, no matter how unfair, would be official. The baron can set aside a will if he wishes, but normally should carry them out.
If the parties has someone who looks like a wizard, a lower class male called 'Snap' will offer the wizard $10 to 'escort me to the next town.' If the wizard is not interested Snap will up his offer to $25. If the rest of the party wants to come on, Snap will pay no more than $25 for the whole party. Basically he wants the wizard and if the others want to come along, they can but the wizard can pay them.
If the player still refuses, Snap will say thanks anyway and leave. However if the offer is refused, Snap will stay in town and show no interest in leaving.
Snap's offer is completely on the up and up. (Snap is a friend of Mort who wants all the people who understand magic out of town for the next few days.)
Late that day the priest Pettieff, is escorted to the docks by Metzz. Pettieff has been ordered out of town on some minor chore by the head priest. Metzz has been sent along to make sure Pettieff actually leaves. Pettieff, is loudly arguing with Metzz, claiming that Metzz has been bribed by Mort and Emmeni to fake a will. Since this is true Metzz gets very angry. Pettieff is put on a ship with a couple of Mort's thugs, and sails away down stream. If the party wants to talk to him, it shouldn't be too hard to distract his keepers for a short time. Pettieff will tell about the 2nd will and has the rough notes that he drafted the 2nd will from, on his person. He will give these notes to any sympathetic person.
Just before nightfall, a band of 5 tough looking fighters arrive in town by road. The leader is very polite, and will ask a party member if they know where the Hastur Manor house is. If asked, he will explain that Emmeni Hastur has offered his band work for a few months, but if it doesn't work out, they are competent fighters looking for work. (These mercenaries are an attribute or two below the party so their description will vary somewhat depending on how tough the players are.)
If any of the party members have been loudly supporting Sheena and Zaff a disreputable female figure will quietly ask them for a word. This person (no name is given) will say it is a damn shame that Emmeni and Mort are taking the old man's money, and something should be done. If the party agrees with this, she will offer them $100 to take these 3 molitovs and throw them thru the study's window. This will destroy the fake will and everything will be divided up according to the 'fair' will.
This women will pretend to be outraged by the 'unfair will' but he is a poor actor and obviously does not care. She seems very dirty and low class to be throwing $100 around.
The women is a friend of Mort's. If the party accepts this deal, they will be surprised as they approach the Manor house. They will be attacked by a couple dozen fighters (some better than the party) probably including the mercenaries that they met this evening. If any party members survive being captured, they will be hung for attempted arson and murder. The dirty women will testify against them saying she overheard them planning to torch the building and rob it when people were fleeing the fire. The player's claims that she bribed them will be laughed at. She is a drunk, where would she get that kind of money?
In the bars that night, everyone is talking about the wills. Mort has started rumors that the old man made several wills in his final few weeks and people will have heard wild stories about what was in some of these several 'mad wills'. (These rumors are all lies.)
Pettieff has told several people the contents of the 2nd will. If the party have talked to Pettieff their information will be of great interest to the locals. If they have Pettieff's rough notes, they will be the center of attention and will be bought many drinks, etc.
On to Part 2!