This tale, set one year after Geralt tamed the striga the first time, starts in a rather unoriginal way — in (Vizima's) prison. The twist is that, this time, Geralt is the person visiting someone, not the one behind bars. So who is the unfortunate fellow? It is Dandelion of course, Geralt's old pal, and once again he has gotten himself into trouble. Because Geralt is his friend, the task of getting the bard off the hook falls to the witcher, once again ("... I promise Geralt, that's the last time, or almost the last time, really!").
How did Dandelion land in prison? As usual, his uncontrollable lust and desires are at the heart of the matter. Unfortunately, his last victim was not a puerile peasant who could easily be brushed off. This time the bard flirted with the wife of one of the richest and most influential men in Vizima. Not exactly a crime, you say?
When the nobleman found out what had happened, he decided to shorten Dandelion a little bit, and we are not talking about a haircut. In particular, he wanted to chop off the troubadour's head. Naturally Dandelion has a different opinion of what would constitute appropriate punishment. To stay out of harm's way, he has bribed a prison guard to keep him in "protective" custody. What safer place than prison?
Just when all the facts seem established and clear, it turns out that the Dandelion's "one night stand" is not the real reason why he fears for his life. It seems he is in more trouble than he initially let on and now he must pay for it. So, what are the real reasons Dandelion wants to stay in prison? Who is he afraid of?
It would seem that this is a certain Mr. Glover, from whom Dandelion "borrowed" a large sum to pay off Ralf Duben at the prison for the "accommodations". So the first place Geralt must visit is Glover's to try to sort out the mess the troubadour has made. Luckily Glover seems amenable to repayment, whatever the source, so the witcher offers to pay off Dandelions debts and Glover agrees.
Geralt then begins scouting about town to try to find ways to raise the funds he needs. In the course of his meanderings, he meets a variety of interesting locals, many of whom provide opportunities to make a few orens. The services of witchers mercifully remain in demand and making some fast cash turns out to be fairly easy.
The major characters (other than Geralt of course) in this module are:
The rest of the characters can be found in the list of Characters in Side Effects.
While the layout of these areas has not changed and they may seem very familiar, the locations in "Side Effects" depict these places as they were sometime before the events of The Witcher. For example, the building known as St. Lebioda's Hospital in The Witcher is known simply as the Temple of Melitele in this module. There is no crypt in the cemetery and some parts of the sewers are inaccessible.
This list of monsters is somewhat abbreviated in this module. Most of the creatures who do appear are only worth 1 XP each to kill so the experience rewards are disproportionately small for the work required.
There are twelve quests in this module, a complete list can be found in the list Quests in Side Effects.