The characters are between adventures and relaxing in the Drunken Sailor (location F2 on the City of Languard map). The tavern is a sailors' and adventurers’ haunt and several other groups are in the common room, drinking and talking.
An obviously wealthy middle-aged man enters the tavern. The man speaks to the innkeep, and a few coins change hands. The man climbs up onto the bar and shouts for attention. He introduces himself as Matti Jurva–a trusted servant of the wealthy merchant Vilutar Pakkanen. He explains his master is in need of a “few brave men and women” available at short notice for a “short sea voyage of no more than two days”. Pay is 100 gp per person, payable on their return.
Several other adventurers in the room, shout questions at the man while others push their way to the bar to sign up. Inevitably, an argument breaks out between two rival parties of adventurers. Both groups want the job—it sounds like easy money—and a brawl breaks out.
As the two rival groups beat each other up, the chaos spreads and soon a full-scale brawl is in progress. The characters can either get involved and enjoy the brawl or rescue the man who remains trapped on the bar. If the characters rescue the man, he thanks them and suggests they move to another tavern so he can tell them more about the job…
Matti Jurva is the trusted servant of Vilutar Pakkanen a well known merchant based in High City. Vilutar Pakkanen is known to deal in rare, expensive and high-value goods. She owns a small fleet of ships.
Matti explains that one of the ships, the Sea Sprite, set sail last year to the far-off southern waters of the Coral Sea in search of certain rare and expensive spices. The ship was long overdue and thought lost until it was sighted last night floundering on rocks in the grim shadow of the Mottled Spire within a bowshot of Gloamhold’s tenebrous entrance. Mariners are superstitious folk and few will willing sail such waters.
Matti, on behalf of Vilutar, needs a band of brave heroes to set sail on the dawn tide to recover Sea Sprite’s charts and logbook, and what of its cargo can be saved before Languard’s lowlife overcome their fear and loot the wreck.
I used this hook to kickstart my Dark Adventure's campaign, to great effect. I was surprised my players didn't get stuck into the brawl (I think the presence of a paladin and part-time member of the watch in the group may have had something to do with this). However, they did rescue Matti and get the job of exploring Sea Sprite. Thus began their legends...
You can read the session summary for Brawl of Opportunity here: