|Insert BDSM jokes here.|
Now, if you were a respected professional, would you volunteer for this gig? Not a friggin' chance. Not only is the scope of the operation well beneath you, but you gotta' know that there's not a lot of money in it either. So what's Ned's motivation?
First off, he's clearly not a Respected Professional. Likely he's got a long rap sheet of botched hits and failed enterprises--like his laughable attempt at fixing bouts on the Ulek gnome-wrestling circuit, or that time he got arrested for "attempted pimping" in Gradsul. Whatta' Schmuck.
But still, how did he find himself hogtied and stashed like a sack of hirsute potatoes in a decrepit house waiting for a band of well-armed, sociopathic adventurers--who, it should be noted, gain XPs for killing people--to come along and free him from his bonds? Fortunately for you I've uncovered the answer. You see, old Ned's got gambling debts out the yang and The Receiver--the prominent Saltmarsh merchant with ties to the Smugglers Under the House--has purchased them at pennies on the dollar because, hey, you never know when your gonna' need a disposable assassin for exactly this kind of work.
The Receiver has decided to give Ned one last chance to make good on his debts so he sends him to the haunted house to wait for the meddling party of adventurers. But do we really think that he wants Ned to stop the party from finding the smugglers? Heck no, compadres; this is where the module-writers grossly underestimate the ruthlessness of The Receiver. As mentioned in the module, Ned's presence will make it obvious to even the least observant party that there is something decidedly non-paranormal going on in the haunted house. This is entirely by design because, as you'll remember, The Receiver has as yet failed to find the Smugglers den--which clearly indicates that he's been looking for it. And it's also clear that the Smugglers aren't being too forthcoming with their location, which makes good business sense when you deal in illegal contraband. So what does The Receiver want with the Smugglers? I'll tell you: he's not interested in protecting the Smugglers Under the House at all: he wants to take over their operation. That's right, the Party has stumbled into a gangster turf war.
So The Receiver sends Shakeshaft* not to stymie the Party but to assist them in finding the Smugglers hideout and, indeed, to encourage them to keep looking should they consider leaving without finding it. As soon as the Party finds the secret lair of the Smugglers, Ned is to slip away and alert the gang of toughs that are hiding out in the woods across the way. These goons will then descend on the hideout and pound any survivors--on either side of the conflict--into submission. Ned also knows full well that those same thugs have been tasked with doing the same to him should he fail in his mission. There, my friends, lies his motivation.
* This has got to be an alias, right? I suspect that "Ned Shakeshaft" is the UK equivalent of "Jack Meoff."