The city of Sasserine is still finding its feet after emerging from a century of oppressive rule during which the traditional thieves’ guilds were destroyed. Dozens of minor guilds now squabble for control of the city’s underworld, one guild in particular has risen above the in-fighting, and is now poised to become a major player in city politics.
This is the Lotus Dragons, a band of murderers, burglars, and smugglers led by a charismatic and ambitious woman named Rowyn Kellani – a woman who just happens to be the daughter of one of the city’s noble families. When Rowyn enters an alliance with the scion of another noble family, a scoundrel named Vanthus vanderboren, the final piece of her plan falls into place and she prepares to seize control of the city’s seatrade.
Yet for all of her scheming and plotting, Rowyn’s capacity for evil and cruelty pales in comparison to that of her new lover. Vanthus, in an attempt to prove his value and worth to the Lotus Dragons (and to impress it’s beautiful guildmistress), recently committed a horrendous crime. Knowing his parents had just purchased a new ship and were planning on taking a relaxing trip up the coast, he smuggled a dozen barrels of alchemist’s fire into the ship’s hold and arranged for an"accident." The resulting fire burned the ship to the waterline and left its crew (and Vanthus’s parents) dead.
Alas, his plan to inherit his estate (and then use its resources to bolster the Lotus Dragons) fell through when a reading of his parents’ will revealed that the estate was to be passed along entirely to his older sister Lavinia Vanderboren. Seething with rage but unwilling to take drastic action against his sister, Vanthus did what he could to rob the family vault before she could claim its riches. Fortunately, he was able to make off with enough money to ensure his place in the guild – and after he abandoned the competition in a series of undead-haunted smuggler’s tunnels, his position high in the Lotus Dragon’s ranks was ensured.
The adventure begins as the party gathers at Vanderboren Manor. They’ve earned quite a reputation as reliable, yet underhanded mercenaries, and through their bartender benefactor Lavinia asks them to aid her in securing access to her family’s vault, the key to which is hidden on her father’s ship. She tells them she has the Jade Ravens serving her, but needs a less… public… group to do some bidding. Once she learns the true nature of her estate, empty vaults and all, Lavinia turns her attention to her true concern. Her brother Vanthus has been missing for weeks. She’s heard rumors that he’s fallen in with some unsavory types, but hopes he can be convinced to return to civilized society. She sends the party out on his trail, and their investigations lead them to a small smuggler’s complex under Parrot Island. There, Vanthus springs a trap and locks them in the tunnels, forcing them to navigate an escape while dealing with the hungry undead that dwell within. They eventually emerge, having Kamui swim them one by one past the poisonous urchins lining an underwater tunnel.
Having learned that Vanthus has taken up with a much more dangerous thieves guild called the Lotus Dragons. They locate the guildhouse, and discover the guild is preparing to take control of the city’s sea trade. After multiple attempts to raid the guild end in failure, they decide to take a more stealthy approach. Arriving face to face with the guildmistress herself, she is most impressed with their skill and offers them a chance to join, replacing her lost crew.
Alas, despite betraying their employer Vanthus is no where to be found, although clues as to his trail are located. Rowyn explains he has betrayed the guild also, and made for Kraken’s Cove. She gives the new recruits their first assignment, pursuing the defector.