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Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide

Thursday, October 6, 2016

All the information you need to start and run a Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign is included in the new hardcover edition, but what if you're planning on being a player in the campaign instead? Well then, this blog post is for you! Alternately, you can check out the original Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide we produced back in 2008 for even more details—most of the rules mechanics in that book have long since been updated to the Pathfinder RPG, with one notable exception—the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign traits. These traits are presented in full detail in the hardcover edition, but they are also reprinted in this blog post for you to peruse with ease.


Illustration by Miguel Regodon Harkness

Character Tips

Curse of the Crimson Throne is primarily an urban-based campaign set in the city of Korvosa in southeastern Varisia, although there are a few lengthy portions of the Adventure Path that take place outside of Korvosa's walls. To a certain extent, these portions of the game are intended to force urban-themed PCs out of their comfort zone, but the reverse certainly holds true. You can absolutely play a barbarian or druid or other nature-themed PC in Curse of the Crimson Throne, but you should come up with an in-character reason to explain why your non-urban character is in Korvosa at the start of the campaign, as well as why you'd want to stay in Korvosa as things inevitably start to go bad for the city. Building strong links to other player characters is a great solution—your druid or barbarian might normally just abandon the city, but not when a close friend or relative or other ally who lives in the city is in danger!

Character Races

Korvosa is predominantly a human city, although all of the PC races in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook are welcome within its walls. Korvosa itself was founded many years ago by Cheliax, and most of its human citizens are of the Chelaxian ethnicity today as a result, although there are large numbers of Varisians, Taldans, and Vudrani present within the city walls as well.

Shoanti are also quite common, although they tend to be less welcome in certain parts of the city and face the specter of racism that lingers still in Korvosa, thanks in part to the city's unfortunate history of Chelaxian conquerors claiming the land from the Shoanti and forcing them to flee to the northeast to the harsh Cinderlands. While a Shoanti character may be subjected to bigotry from some of Korvosa's more narrow-minded citizens, having a Shoanti PC may open up other advantages later in the campaign. Other ethnicities are rare but not unknown in the city.

Dwarves mostly hail from nearby Janderhoff, many of whom have ties to robust trade and mercantilism between Korvosa and the nearby Sky Citadel.

Elves and gnomes are relatively rare in Korvosa, but not so much that they'd turn heads when spotted walking down the city streets.

Halflings are relatively common in the city; many have escaped from lives as slaves in Cheliax to the south, and many of Korvosa's shipping concerns have large numbers of halfling sailors on their payroll.

Half-elves and half-orcs are present in the city as well, but while half-elves can generally pass uncommented upon, many of Korvosa's inhabitants (particularly the Shoanti, who have a long, bitter history with orcs) react poorly to half-orc presences; bigotry and fear are unfortunately not uncommon against these oft-misunderstood folk.

Character Classes

Curse of the Crimson Throne, as an urban-themed campaign, presents numerous opportunities for intrigue-based characters to shine, yet there remain plenty of old-fashioned dungeon crawls and dangerous combats awaiting as well. As with all campaigns, having a balanced party with regards to combat prowess, magical ability, and intrigue skills will go a long way toward success.

Character Classes:

Alchemist, Arcanist, Magus, Sorcerer, Summoner, Witch, Wizard: Korvosa is welcoming to those who specialize in arcane magic, and there are numerous opportunities for an arcane spellcaster to flourish in the city—and being an adventurer is certainly one option for prosperity! One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that Korvosa's most well-known school for arcane spellcasters, the Acadamae, does not play a significant role in Curse of the Crimson Throne. If you wish your character to be associated with the Acadamae, speak to your GM or build your character so those links are relatively minor. All of the standard familiars are good choices in Korvosa. There is a long-standing feud in the city between imps (who've escaped servitude to Acadamae students and teachers) and pseudodragon-like creatures called house drakes. Both of these are classic choices for improved familiars. (A spellcaster must be 7th level and chaotic good to gain a house drake as a familiar; full statistics for these tiny dragons appear in Curse of the Crimson Throne.) Other commonly seen improved familiars in Korvosa include dire rats, lyrakien, nosois, and pseudodragons, but anything approved by your GM could serve.

Barbarian, Bloodrager, Druid, Hunter, Shaman, Skald: These classes are not normally associated with urban regions, but as long as you have a reason for your character to live in or be on an extended visit to Korvosa, the campaign will accommodate such characters (and in fact, when the plot moves beyond the city walls, such characters may well be particularly helpful!). A character associated with one of the Shoanti quahs might provide some additional advantages or opportunities as the campaign progresses, particularly if the PC hails from one of the quahs that dwells in the Cinderlands (the Lyrune-Quah, the Sklar-Quah, or the Skoan-Quah)—although if your PC is a member of one such tribe, don't assume that you'll be automatically welcomed back into your tribe's arms after spending a significant amount of time in Korvosa! Classes that take animal companions should be able to function normally in Korvosa—after all, this is a city where defenders mounted on hippogriffs exist. The sight of someone with an exotic animal companion is unlikely to raise many eyebrows, provided the animal companion is well behaved. Nonetheless, there are certain types of animal companions that are more commonly encountered in this part of Varisia, including alligators, badgers, bears, birds, boars, dogs, horses, ponies, small cats (mostly firepelt cougars), wolverines, and wolves.

Bard, Investigator, Rogue, Slayer, Swashbuckler: These intrigue-focused characters make excellent choices for an urban campaign like Curse of the Crimson Throne. Korvosa has a wide range of organizations and groups that characters like this can belong to, but the campaign works best for "freelancers"—intrigue-based characters who haven't yet selected a group to associate with, be they underground guilds or high society. As the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign progresses, you'll encounter several groups with which your intrigue-themed character might ally with or oppose, and coming to these groups without having a strong affiliation at the outset makes for a more rewarding play experience. Of course, there's one group your intrigue-focused character should start quite loyal to—that of the player character party! If you want to associate with a particular group, speak to your GM before the game begins. Note also that any of these intrigue-focused characters could benefit from the specific information provided below for vigilante characters.

Brawler, Cavalier, Fighter, Monk: As with intrigue-focused characters, there are numerous options for martial classes to flourish in Korvosa. The most appropriate group to ally with in this campaign would be the Korvosan Guard, which serves as the city's police force and plays a significant role in the campaign. Other groups, like the Hellknight Order of the Nail and the Sable Company have specific roles to play in Curse of the Crimson Throne that make them poor choices for PCs. If you wish to associate with one of these two groups, speak with your GM before the game.

Cleric, Inquisitor, Oracle, Warpriest: All four of these divine spellcasting classes are well known and welcome in Korvosa—provided they do not use their religious beliefs and zeal to cause trouble. Consult the Religions section below for further details.

Kineticist, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Spiritualist: There are a few opportunities for psychic classes to particularly shine throughout the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path, be they links to the deep themes of spiritualism associated with the Harrow or explorations of particularly notorious haunted sites. Make sure your GM is familiar with and comfortable with options from Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures before choosing one of these classes for your character.

Paladin: Paladins are an excellent choice for Curse of the Crimson Throne—with one caveat: do not let the lawful portion of your alignment rule your play choices. Things rapidly get out of control and go bad in Korvosa as the campaign unfolds, and your paladin's choices should put her or him firmly on the side of the PCs. Speak to your GM before playing a paladin in this game. As a general rule, it's probably better to play a paladin of a neutral good deity than of a lawful neutral deity in Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Ranger: If you choose to play a ranger, make sure to consult the information above for other nature-themed classes (barbarian, druid, etc.), including advice on animal companions. Note also that while Korvosa has a ranger-themed organization that operates within its walls (the Sable Company), that group is not a great choice for association with as a player character. If you wish to be associated with the Sable Company, clear it with your GM before play. The best options for favored enemy are animal, humanoid (human), undead, and vermin. These choices remain strong in the later parts of the campaign, but outsider (evil) and outsider (native) grow stronger as options. Most other favored enemy choices will be represented now and then in the campaign, but not nearly as often. The best favored terrain choices are (in descending order of importance) urban, underground, desert, swamp, and plains.

Gunslinger, Ninja, Samurai: These three classes are all but unknown in Korvosa. While samurai and gunslingers can fit in well with other martial-focused classes and ninja fit in well with intrigue-focused classes, there are no specific themes in Korvosa tailored specifically for these exotic class choices.

Vigilante: Korvosa's current political climate is ripe for the attention of a vigilante. In fact, the city already has one notorious legend in this category: Blackjack, a figure at once beloved and reviled, is a masked hero who has fought for Korvosa's downtrodden for many decades. Rumors about his or her identity, race, and gender are across the board, as are opinions as to whether Blackjack is one person or a role held by several over the course of the city's growth. Whatever the truth, Blackjack has been lying low of late, perhaps retired, perhaps dead, or perhaps (as the downtrodden hope) merely waiting for the right time to burst back onto the scene. Of course, this means the city is potentially ready for a new vigilante to look up to or to fight against. Your vigilante could even be interested in taking on the role of Blackjack, although if you do so, speak to your GM first to determine how that might be worked out.

Prestige Classes: The Harrow plays a significant role in Curse of the Crimson Throne, and as such, the harrower prestige class from Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide would make a particularly interesting choice for anyone who can qualify for it. Certain prestige classes are associated with key organizations in Golarion, and some of those organizations have key roles to play in Curse of the Crimson Throne. As such, these prestige classes are inappropriate for use in this campaign, but in order to avoid spoiling too much, those classes are not called out here. If you wish to build your character toward a specific prestige class, make sure to let your GM know as soon as possible so that she or he can either approve or deny your choice based on whether it makes sense to take levels in that class for Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Languages

The Common tongue is the most appropriate language for this campaign, but two others that will see a lot of use are Shoanti and Varisian. Beyond these three obvious choices, Orc, Thassilonian, and Vudrani will have some sporadic uses here and there. You can expect to encounter the typically wide range of creatures in a lengthy campaign, with more common languages (such as Dwarven, Elven, and Draconic) likely being more useful than obscure ones (such as Azlanti, Cyclops, or Orvian), which may not have much use at all.

Religions

Korvosa is tolerant of a wide range of religions and doesn't favor any one faith over another. The city's largest and most publicly active temple is the Bank of Abadar, but the city also hosts temples devoted to Asmodeus, Pharasma, Sarenrae, and Shelyn. Beyond these temples, the Pantheon of the Many in southern Korvosa represents 17 of the core 20 deities of the Inner Sea region—the only three deities who are not represented here are Gorum, Lamashtu, and Rovagug. While worship of Gorum isn't illegal in the city, his following has never been strong in the region (even among the Shoanti, who prefer a more shamanistic or druidic form of worship). While the faiths of Zon-Kuthon, Urgathoa, and Norgorber are represented in the Pantheon of the Many, their shrines are generally unused and neglected. When choosing a faith for your character, it's best overall to avoid worshiping an evil deity—if you do wish to worship such a deity, speak to your GM as your choice may be inappropriate (for reasons beyond alignment!) for this campaign.

Campaign Traits

Korvosa, like any city, has its share of undesirables. Cutpurses, thugs, thieves, burglars, assassins, and lowlifes of every sort can be found in waterfront slums, creeping in the sewers, or hiding in the tangled rooftop-scape known as the Shingles. The Korvosan Guard does what it can to keep the city's criminals from causing too much harm, but the cold reality is that crooks will always outnumber the law. And that means some crimes go unpunished and some criminals see great success.

The worst of these, perhaps, are the city's crime lords. Dozens of them operate in Korvosa today, from the scheming leader of the Cerulean Society all the way down to the Varisian Sczarni thugs who preside over a gang of a half-dozen friends and cousins. These minor crime lords are often, ironically, the ones who do the most damage to Korvosa's law-abiding citizens, as larger organizations have little need to bother commoners. One such undesirable is Gaedren Lamm, a despicable wretch who missed his chance at being somebody big in Korvosa's murky underworld. Well past his prime, the decrepit thief abducts orphans and forces them to support his parasitic lifestyle with petty crime. Many members of Korvosa's lower class have had dealings with Lamm, and even a few of the city's middle class and nobility have had their lives complicated by this foul old man. Yet no matter what he does, he always seems to slip away from the guards and avoid answering for his crimes.

Gaedren Lamm's luck is about to change, though. For among those his actions have recently touched are men and women destined to become some of Korvosa's greatest heroes—your player characters!

Before your Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign begins, look through the following Campaign Traits and select one that works well for your character. These traits detail how your PCs has been wronged by Gaedren Lamm, and set up the initial events for the Adventure Path—events that may well allow you and your fellow PCs to see that Gaedren Lamm answers for his terrible crimes, be that in a court of law or at the edge of a vengeful blade.

The campaign traits all tie Gaedren to a PC, and represent historical snippets that explain how this detestable crime lord has affected each PC in the past. Each trait is categorized into one of six unique themes with two separate choices for each campaign trait. In addition to selecting one of these campaign traits, each player should select an additional character trait; see Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide for more rules on character traits.

Campaign Traits:

Betrayed

You were hardly a model citizen as a child or young adult. Your reasons for turning to a life of crime may be varied, but what matters is that you eventually fell in with a certain well-connected and notorious crime lord named Gaedren Lamm. His reputation as a snake and a treacherous scoundrel was known to you, but for reasons of your own, you chose not to turn him down when he offered you a chance to work for him. You may have assumed you were an exception, or that you'd be able to handle him, or perhaps even planned to betray him. As it worked out, though, Gaedren got the upper hand and took you down you first. You may have served time in jail, may have been beaten by his thugs and left for dead, or could simply have had your profits stolen out from under you. Whatever the cause, Gaedren wronged you, and you are eager for the chance to get revenge.
Choose one of the following benefits.

Hungry for Revenge: You've never forgiven Gaedren for his betrayal, and have vowed to make him pay for what he did. Whether that's seeing him rot in jail or a shallow grave, you hope to taste vengeance someday. Whenever you deal damage with a melee weapon on a creature that is flat-footed, you gain a +1 trait bonus on the damage roll.

Reformed Criminal: You've given up the life of crime, and managed to talk your way out of any repercussions such as jail time or fines. You've told yourself that you would rather leave your past behind, yet the concept of seeing Gaedren Lamm pay for his crimes still appeals to you. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks, and Diplomacy is a class skill for you.

Drug Addict

Someone you know has become addicted to shiver, a drug distilled from the venom of tropical arachnids known as dream spiders. The drug induces sleep filled with vivid dreams, during which the user's body shakes and shivers, giving the substance its street name. You've always thought of shiver as a problem of the lower class, but then someone you know overdosed on the stuff. You've done a bit of investigating and have learned that the villain who got your friend addicted in the first place was a crime lord named Gaedren Lamm. Unfortunately, the guards seem to be focused on the bigger dealers. They don't have time to devote many resources to what they've called "a bit player in a beggar's problem." It would seem that if Gaedren's operation is to be stopped, it falls to you.
Choose one of the following benefits.

Addicted Friend: The addict is a friend or lover who might or might not have survived the overdose. Your research into the drug scene and local politics has given you a respectable education in street knowledge. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Knowledge (local) checks, and Knowledge (local) is a class skill for you.

Personal Addiction: You were the addict. You blame Gaedren for your brush with death and hate how his drugs are causing similar problems among other youths. Fortunately, your body recovers quickly from toxins, and you gain a +1 trait bonus on Fortitude saving throws.

Framed

Someone you know and love was accused of murder. A supposed eyewitness account from a local fisherman seemed to be enough to seal the case, but the accused had enough alibis that sentencing wasn't immediate. Someone confronted the fisherman and discovered he was intimidated into providing false witness and forced into planting the murder weapon by the actual murderer—a local crime lord named Gaedren Lamm, whose thugs killed the fisherman before he could recant his testimony. Although this removed the key witness and resulted in the accused being set free, the stigma was enough to badly damage the accused's reputation. If you can find Gaedren, you're sure you can find evidence that ties him to the murder and can clear the accused's name.
Choose one of the following benefits.

Dropout: You were the one accused of the murder. Although you were eventually freed when a friend confronted the fisherman and got the truth, the damage had been done. You were forced to leave your school or church. As a result, you were forced to self-train and promised yourself you would become better at your chosen profession despite the spurning of your peers. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Spellcraft checks, and Spellcraft is a class skill for you.

Family Honor: The person who was framed was a family member, perhaps a father or sister. You managed to trick the fisherman into revealing the truth with your skilled tongue. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Bluff checks, and Bluff is a class skill for you.

Love Lost

Someone you loved was knifed to death in a dark alley one night. You were called to the scene by the Korvosan Guard to identify the body, and as rough as that was for you, you also noticed a ring was missing from your loved one's finger. Whoever murdered your loved one stole that ring—you're convinced of it. You've done some investigation on your own and recently found the ring for sale at a local merchant's shop. To your great frustration, you can't yet afford the 500 gp to buy it back, but the merchant did tell you from whom he purchased the ring: a man named Gaedren Lamm. It seems likely this criminal killed your loved one, or at the very least, he knows who did. The only problem is finding him.
Choose one of the following benefits.

All Alone: The murder victim was a lover. With your lover's death, a part of you died as well, leaving you haunted, grim, and prone to dark musings. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Intimidate checks, and Intimidate is a class skill for you.

Orphaned: The murder victim was your only surviving parent. You had to work hard to make ends meet for yourself and any siblings, and often had to scavenge for food. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Survival checks, and Survival is a class skill for you.

Missing Child

You suspect that a child you know has been abducted by Gaedren Lamm. Whatever the relationship, you've heard rumors about "Lamm's Lambs," and of how the old man uses children as pickpockets and agents for his crimes. You've even heard rumors that the child you're looking for has been spotted in the marketplaces in the company of known cutpurses and pickpockets. Although the Korvosan Guard has been understanding of your plight, it has its hands full with "more important" matters these days, it seems, and has not yet been able to learn anything more about Gaedren. No one else is interested in bringing Gaedren down and rescuing his victims—that task falls to you. Yet where could the old scoundrel be hiding?
Choose one of the following benefits.

Missing Sibling: The missing child is a brother or sister. Although everyone else has given up hope, you believe your sibling still lives. Your constant search for the missing sibling has developed into great skill at rumormongering and finding out information from others. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sense Motive checks, and Sense Motive is a class skill for you.

Missing Son or Daughter: The missing child is your own son or daughter, a niece or nephew, or a child you were charged with protecting. The child was abducted during a trip to the market or other daily event. Your stubbornness and long hours spent searching for rumors grant you a +1 trait bonus on Will saves.

Unhappy Childhood

You spent a period of time as one of Gaedren Lamm's enslaved orphans, doing all manner of dirty work for him. Maybe you were abducted from your parent's home or during a trip to the market. Perhaps the irresponsible matron who ruled your orphanage traded you to him in return for a desperately needed financial loan. Or perhaps you, like most of Gaedren's slaves, were merely a child of the street who succumbed to his promise of regular meals and a roof in return for what he said would be "a little light work." Whatever the case, you spent several years of your life as one of "Lamm's Lambs" before escaping. You've nursed a grudge against the old man ever since.
Choose one of the following benefits.

Religious: One day, while on a job for Gaedren, you found a holy symbol of the god you worship, and intrigued by it, you snuck off to attend services. When Gaedren found out, he beat you to within an inch of your life and broke your holy symbol. Your faith let you block out the pain, and you escaped his control and took shelter in the church, where you spent the rest of your youth. You gain a +2 trait bonus on concentration checks and Constitution checks to stabilize at negative hit points.

Tortured: After you made one too many errors, Gaedren tortured you and left you for dead in a garbage heap. Your scars and memories have motivated you to hone your reaction speed and make you rather jumpy. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Reflex saves.

James Jacobs
Creative Director

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Tags: Curse of the Crimson Throne Miguel Regodon Harkness Pathfinder Adventure Path
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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

This is great! Wonderful update to the existing Player's Guide, James!
I especially liked the addition of the newer classes. Kudos!

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Awesome! ^_^


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Interesting contrast between the original Player's Guide and this blog post with respect to Paladins:

Original Player's Guide wrote:

Paladins

Korvosa is an extremely lawful city, but one that isn’t as interested, as a general rule, in the purpose of the law as much as its application. If anything, the city government’s often impartial stance on matters regarding the law skew the general feel toward evil. As a result, most paladins find Korvosa too stifling a place for them, and they often grow frustrated with the city’s overwhelming bureaucracy and willingness to accept things like the Hellknight Order of the Nail or the church of Asmodeus in the city. Most of Korvosa’s paladins ally with the church of Abadar and the Korvosan Guard, figuring that to be where they can do the most good.

The part I italicized above contrasts with the part I italicized below:

This blog post wrote:
Paladin: Paladins are an excellent choice for Curse of the Crimson Throne—with one caveat: do not let the lawful portion of your alignment rule your play choices. Things rapidly get out of control and go bad in Korvosa as the campaign unfolds, and your paladin's choices should put her or him firmly on the side of the PCs. Speak to your GM before playing a paladin in this game. As a general rule, it's probably better to play a paladin of a neutral good deity than of a lawful neutral deity in Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Not that I'm complaining, but I wonder what stimulated this change?


UnArcane,

My guess? Too many Abardian paladins.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

6 people marked this as a favorite.
UnArcaneElection wrote:

Interesting contrast between the original Player's Guide and this blog post with respect to Paladins:

Original Player's Guide wrote:

Paladins

Korvosa is an extremely lawful city, but one that isn’t as interested, as a general rule, in the purpose of the law as much as its application. If anything, the city government’s often impartial stance on matters regarding the law skew the general feel toward evil. As a result, most paladins find Korvosa too stifling a place for them, and they often grow frustrated with the city’s overwhelming bureaucracy and willingness to accept things like the Hellknight Order of the Nail or the church of Asmodeus in the city. Most of Korvosa’s paladins ally with the church of Abadar and the Korvosan Guard, figuring that to be where they can do the most good.

The part I italicized above contrasts with the part I italicized below:

This blog post wrote:
Paladin: Paladins are an excellent choice for Curse of the Crimson Throne—with one caveat: do not let the lawful portion of your alignment rule your play choices. Things rapidly get out of control and go bad in Korvosa as the campaign unfolds, and your paladin's choices should put her or him firmly on the side of the PCs. Speak to your GM before playing a paladin in this game. As a general rule, it's probably better to play a paladin of a neutral good deity than of a lawful neutral deity in Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Not that I'm complaining, but I wonder what stimulated this change?

What stimulated this change is the simple fact that an Abadarian paladin skews MUCH more toward law than good, and when it comes to an Adventure Path where the PCs are put at odds with the lawful ruler of the land, a paladin needs to be able to "unclench" on the law side and go with the good side instead. Paladins of neutral good deities are better at that role than paladins of lawful neutral deities.

The original Player's Guide also kinda is illogical in implying that paladins would ally with a non-good deity because "that's where they can do the most good." Abadar's burrecratic stuff makes it more difficult on average for a paladin to do good than a paladin of a neutral good, or even a lawful good deity.

AKA: We've gotten better at understanding our own creations over the course of a decade.


James Jacobs wrote:
We've gotten better at understanding our own creations over the course of a decade

In your defense, D&D's supplemental materials on how good-aligned characters, especially paladins, "should" act didn't make much sense, seeing as they seemed to believe that even the most minor evil act should result in a paladin falling.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Lovely!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Diachronos wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
We've gotten better at understanding our own creations over the course of a decade
In your defense, D&D's supplemental materials on how good-aligned characters, especially paladins, "should" act didn't make much sense, seeing as they seemed to believe that even the most minor evil act should result in a paladin falling.

I think that interpretation was as much, if not MOSTLY on the shoulders of the deadly combination of GMs and non-paladin fellow PCs who were excited to see a paladin fall from grace.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Are the Dockside Avenger and Varisian Immunity traits (from the Player Companion for Varisia) still valid for for CotCT?

Incidentally, the Varisian Immunity trait puzzles me a bit. It mentions two diseases, but isn't one of them specific to a certain location (one not visited in this AP) and the other one a new "invention"? (Not to mention the fact that just listing them is a bit of a spoiler.)

Anyway, I'm very glad to see the updated traits, plus some common sense tips for incoming players.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Regarding the old CotCT player's guide (from 3.5): have all the feats been "pathfinderised" and/or replaced by archetypes? Specifically, I'm trying to remember if the Acadamae Graduate feat has been updated.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Bellona wrote:

Are the Dockside Avenger and Varisian Immunity traits (from the Player Companion for Varisia) are still valid for for CotCT?

Incidentally, the Varisian Immunity trait puzzles me a bit. It mentions two diseases, but isn't one of them specific to a certain location (one not visited in this AP) and the other one a new "invention"? (Not to mention the fact that just listing them is a bit of a spoiler.)

Anyway, I'm very glad to see the updated traits, plus some common sense tips for incoming players.

They're still relatively usable, with some work from the GM. I wouldn't, though.

Varisian Immunity has always bothered me, for those and other reasons. It does make sense if you know the entire context, though.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Bellona wrote:
Regarding the old CotCT player's guide (from 3.5): have all the feats been "pathfinderised" and/or replaced by archetypes? Specifically, I'm trying to remember if the Acadamae Graduate feat has been updated.

If you give me a list, I can confirm each of them. (I'm away from my copy of the guide.)

Acadamae Graduate has not been updated to Pathfinder.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Sable Company Marine (3.5 version of CotCT PG, p. 6): probably replaced by the archetype in ISCombat (although that connection is discouraged in the new player's guide).

Shingle Runner (p. 6): ???? (I'm sure that I saw this somewhere else in its PF version).

Crossbow Mastery (p. 10): now in the APG.

Acadamae Graduate (p. 11): ????

Harrowed (p. 14): now in the ISWG.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I love the new version of Love Lost, especially since it fixes something that always annoyed me.

The original didn't mention the price of the ring so I found it aggravating that you couldn't get the ring back despite most characters starting with over 100g, how f&%~ing expensive is that ring?!?!

And now we know.

Ugh, frickin expensive ass ring, or more likely it's an heirloom as well.

That or the merchant is just being a cruel dick for charging that much.

Sovereign Court

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I believe Shingle Runner is indeed in the hardcover AP. ^_^

Sovereign Court

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I'll miss the +2 on all my Perform checks...

Silver Crusade

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Kalindlara wrote:
I'll miss the +2 on all my Perform checks...

Which one was that?

Sovereign Court

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Love Lost (Orphaned). It's the one my namesake character had. ^_^

Silver Crusade

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Aww poor Kali :3

Mine was Widow > All Alone (cause that trait needed to be SADDER). It hasn't changed, but we're on book 3 and I haven't made a single Intimidate check the entire game lol

Dark Archive

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Awesome :O Wasn't expecting blog player guide, I'm so happy about this ^_^

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Modules Subscriber

I like this a lot.
I'll print it out and keep it in the old PG

Grand Lodge

Hey everyone! Don't forget there are two other campaign traits that show up in Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends:

CURSE OF THE CRIMSON THRONE
Characters created for this campaign begin play in the city of Korvosa and should have a reason to hate the criminal Gaedren Lamm.

Dockside Avenger: No crime is too despicable for Gaedren Lamm and his thugs—a gang of lowlife murderers, kidnappers, and drug dealers that operate in Korvosa’s Midland district. You’ve lost someone to Lamm and now you’re out for revenge. While Lamm remains alive and free, you are not slain until your hit point total reaches a negative number equal to your Constitution score + 3. Once Lamm is imprisoned or killed, you lose the former benefit but gain 3 permanent hit points.

Varisian Immunity: Your family is particularly hearty, and has even passed down tales of a Varisian ancestor who sought to cure (or, some loose-lipped relatives say, create) diseases. You gain a +1 trait bonus on saving throws made to resist diseases. Additionally, you are immune to the diseases Vorel’s phage and blood veil. You do not need to be of the Varisian ethnicity to take this campaign trait, but if you’re not, your background should explain how you have a Varisian ancestor.


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Dockside Avenger seems linked to Love Lost, so it would still be good.

Varisian Immunity isn't connected to Lamm, so would requires some work. I'd tie it to Unhappy Childhood and run it like this:

Your family's resistance to disease was of great use to Gaedren Lamm as sick houses were often easy to enter and leave with valuables either because of healers coming and going or nosy neighbours avoiding the place. Your luck eventually ran out and you succumbed to a deadly illness. Lamm threw you aside and left you to rot in an alleyway. Yet your resilience managed to keep you alive and when you recovered you found yourself free of Lamm and his abuses.


Thanks James.

My players have been hyped for something like this for a while so they'll be very happy to have it.


I'm actually kinda disappointed by the Campaign Traits personally. I've grown used to Campaigns giving traits that are mechanically different, exciting, and usually a little more powerful than normal traits. This one being entirely static +1 bonuses to things was... Quite a bummer. Still looking forward to playing it though.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Bellona wrote:

Are the Dockside Avenger and Varisian Immunity traits (from the Player Companion for Varisia) still valid for for CotCT?

Incidentally, the Varisian Immunity trait puzzles me a bit. It mentions two diseases, but isn't one of them specific to a certain location (one not visited in this AP) and the other one a new "invention"? (Not to mention the fact that just listing them is a bit of a spoiler.)

Anyway, I'm very glad to see the updated traits, plus some common sense tips for incoming players.

Dockside Avenger and Varisian Immunity are not official Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign traits. I wouldn't recommend using them as such, and instead suggest you use the campaign traits from the new hardcover, since those traits are hardcoded into the text and have in-game resolutions and rewards built in to the adventure.

The Varisian Immunity trait is indeed a big spoiler, and it shouldn't have been written in the way it was written.

If you DO want to use these traits, treat them as regional traits, not Campaign Traits, I guess.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Bellona wrote:

Sable Company Marine (3.5 version of CotCT PG, p. 6): probably replaced by the archetype in ISCombat (although that connection is discouraged in the new player's guide).

Shingle Runner (p. 6): ???? (I'm sure that I saw this somewhere else in its PF version).

Crossbow Mastery (p. 10): now in the APG.

Acadamae Graduate (p. 11): ????

Harrowed (p. 14): now in the ISWG.

Since the Acadamae doesn't play a role in Curse of the Crimson Throne, an Acadamae themed feat is probably a poor choice, since that sets up a player with the hope that his links to the Acadamae might have a chance to be explored in the game, when they won't be. It feels a little bait-and-switchy to me. If you DO let a player take this feat in your game, either manage expectations or do some adjustment to bring the Acadamae's role in further... but given certain plot elements in the AP, this could be tricky.

Grand Lodge

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Feros wrote:

Dockside Avenger seems linked to Love Lost, so it would still be good.

Varisian Immunity isn't connected to Lamm, so would requires some work. I'd tie it to Unhappy Childhood and run it like this:

Your family's resistance to disease was of great use to Gaedren Lamm as sick houses were often easy to enter and leave with valuables either because of healers coming and going or nosy neighbours avoiding the place. Your luck eventually ran out and you succumbed to a deadly illness. Lamm threw you aside and left you to rot in an alleyway. Yet your resilience managed to keep you alive and when you recovered you found yourself free of Lamm and his abuses.

I REALLY like this. I copied the entire blog post into a Word document, and I think I'm going to add house-ruled 3rd options to both Love Lost and Unhappy Childhood based on this.

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Here's what I house-ruled in my game to include these traits (though in light of James Jacobs' recommendation, I may remove them once I get my hands on the AP itself and see how these traits are incorporated):

Dockside Avenger (as part of Lost Love): The murder victim was a sibling of yours. You care little for finding out if Lamm was directly responsible or not and are more obsessed with seeking revenge against anyone even rumored to be involved. While Lamm remains alive and free, you are not slain until your hit point total reaches a negative number equal to your Constitution score + 3. Once Lamm is imprisoned or killed, you lose the former benefit but gain 3 permanent hit points.

Inoculated (as part of Unhappy Childhood): Your family's resistance to disease was of great use to Gaedren Lamm as sick houses were often easy to enter and leave with valuables either because of healers coming and going or nosy neighbors avoiding the place. Your luck eventually ran out and you succumbed to a deadly illness. Lamm threw you aside and left you to rot in an alleyway, yet your resilience managed to keep you alive and when you recovered you found yourself free of Lamm and his abuses. You gain a +1 trait bonus on saving throws made to resist diseases, and gain immunity to one or two specific diseases determined secretly by your GM.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


Dockside Avenger and Varisian Immunity are not official Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign traits. I wouldn't recommend using them as such, and instead suggest you use the campaign traits from the new hardcover, since those traits are hardcoded into the text and have in-game resolutions and rewards built in to the adventure.

The Varisian Immunity trait is indeed a big spoiler, and it shouldn't have been written in the way it was written.

CotCT kind of seems a necessary antecedent to introduce Varisian Immunity as a trait to the campaign.

Dark Archive

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Considering Campaign Traits are essentially plot hooks that get you involved at the start of the campaign and Blood Veil doesn't occur until the second book it seems unnecessarily "spoilerish" to include it as a campaign trait.

Contributor

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Don't forget about the Acadamae Neophyte trait. It also has some Korvosa (not entirely CotCT) flavor and was written by a cool freelancer I know.

Acadamae Neophyte:
Acadamae Neophyte (magic): You have shown a significant talent for the magical arts, gaining the attention of the famed Acadamae of Korvosa. Whenever you succeed at a Knowledge (planes) check to identify a creature and its special powers or vulnerabilities, you gain one additional piece of useful information (as if your skill check result had been 5 higher).

Sovereign Court

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Another note on Varisian Immunity and the hardcover:

Varisians and Immunity:
The hardcover grants anyone of Varisian descent, including half-human characters, a 5% chance to be immune.

I'd just leave it at that, personally. ^_^


Hmmm...would an Iomedae Paladin have any misgivings about opposing the rule of the Crimson Throne?

Also, what about Aasimars and Tieflings?

Finally, how would an female Ulfen barbarian find her way into such a setting?

Silver Crusade

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Berselius wrote:

Hmmm...would an Iomedae Paladin have any misgivings about opposing the rule of the Crimson Throne?

Also, what about Aasimars and Tieflings?

Finally, how would an female Ulfen barbarian find her way into such a setting?

There's absolutely nothing in a Paladin's code, or Iomedae's tenets, or her Paladin code that state "well she's evil and b~~@#%~ crazy but she's queen so I have to do what she wants" :3

Aka Paladin's are perfectly fine going up against corrupt and/or evil governments.

As for the barbarian? Um, walk?

Silver Crusade

Rysky wrote:
Berselius wrote:

Hmmm...would an Iomedae Paladin have any misgivings about opposing the rule of the Crimson Throne?

Also, what about Aasimars and Tieflings?

Finally, how would an female Ulfen barbarian find her way into such a setting?

There's absolutely nothing in a Paladin's code, or Iomedae's tenets, or her Paladin code that state "well she's evil and b+#$!&% crazy but she's queen so I have to do what she wants" :3

Aka Paladin's are perfectly fine going up against corrupt and/or evil governments.

As for the barbarian? Um, walk?

Best examples in popular culture of Paladins against corrupt governments: Captain America: Winter Soldier and Superman during the President Lex years.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Berselius wrote:
Hmmm...would an Iomedae Paladin have any misgivings about opposing the rule of the Crimson Throne?

Before incontrovertable evidence comes in, they should have plenty of misgivings. Paladins, lawful characters in general, don't revolt at the drop of a hat. It needs more than suspicion and rumor.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Berselius wrote:

Hmmm...would an Iomedae Paladin have any misgivings about opposing the rule of the Crimson Throne?

Also, what about Aasimars and Tieflings?

Finally, how would an female Ulfen barbarian find her way into such a setting?

There's absolutely nothing in a Paladin's code, or Iomedae's tenets, or her Paladin code that state "well she's evil and b!~~!## crazy but she's queen so I have to do what she wants" :3

Aka Paladin's are perfectly fine going up against corrupt and/or evil governments.

It also wouldn't be too much of a stretch for the Paladin to consider Ileosa's reign to be illegitimate or at least likely to be so. Remove legitimacy and you remove lines of thinking that start with "the law is the law."

Quote:
As for the barbarian? Um, walk?

For a more serious answer: Hiring tough people from far away as things like bodyguards has a long history in the real world. Start with a small band of Ulfen mercs that some noble hired and it's not hard to get from that to having either a young shieldbearer come with them or a child be born in Korvosa and raised with the expectation of having to return home. You then just have to have her end up falling into the opening plot, (Drug Addict, Framed or Love Lost work with this).

Dark Archive

Saved as a word document. Thank you.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

LOVE this... wasn't expecting an updated Players Guide as a blog. This is incredibly helpful, so thank you James!

Now back to typing up my city guide "for player's eyes," based on snippets from the original CoCT Player's Guide (for D&D 3.5) and the Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Korvosa. A bit of a chore but I reeeaally want to capture the flavor of this setting for my players to use and refer to.


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Saving as a Word document is indeed a good idea . . . thanks (both for the blog post and the people suggesting doing this).

Even if Second Darkness and Legacy of Fire Hardcovers don't come out, could we get updated Player's Guide blog posts for these?


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Even if Second Darkness and Legacy of Fire Hardcovers don't come out, could we get updated Player's Guide blog posts for these?

Never say never, I'd say Paizo would definately give both Second Darkness and Legacy of Fire a chance at least at Hardcover releases if and when they sell out (if they haven't already). :D

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Berselius wrote:
Finally, how would an female Ulfen barbarian find her way into such a setting?

Housecarl to a noble house, dishonored when her young ward was kidnapped away by Lamm's miscreants. (Missing son or daughter lightly re-flavored.)


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I can't wait to smash in Gaedren Lamm's ugly, pathetic, child-abusing face again.


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Axial wrote:
I can't wait to smash in Gaedren Lamm's ugly, pathetic, child-abusing face again.

I still recall my 3.5 Rogue's interaction with him... pulling off his gloves and showing the burn scars I'd developed as part of his backstory.

"Oh, so NOW you recognize me... but you don't look too happy to see me, you son of a <redacted>."

Lamm remains a gem among low-level filth.

Silver Crusade

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My ranger convinced the gator to eat him, no fight at all.

He goes down to the docks to drink with him every now and then.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
My ranger convinced the gator to eat him, no fight at all.

Appropriate victory is appropriate. :D

Shadow Lodge

Writing my own "class recommendations" for those classes "missing" from the original Players Guide was one of the first things I did after reading the AP when starting my own CotCT(now three years in). What follows is a massive listing sans Libre Office checking so sorry about any typos.

Spoiler:
Sorcerer: Korvosa is a well-known cultural and racial hotspot, with ties to many distant disasters and cataclysms, so naturally some sorcerous heritages dominate the cityscape. Players interested in fitting their characters to the themes of the campaign or just coming up with a distinctly Korvosan sorcerer might consider such bloodlines as arcane, infernal and undead from the Core rulebook; dreamspun and shadow from APG and maestro, rakshasha as well the sanguine (undead alternate bloodline) from Ultimate Magic.

Alchemist: The urban cityscape of Korvosa has many opportunities in store for the academically minded and practitioners of the profession of alchemy are no exception. While Academae offers very little for the discerning alchemist, various chymists' shoppes, breweries, distilleries and small gatherings of intelligentsia dot the streets of Korvosa. Some alchemists arrive to discern and distill the beat of the citys strange streets, others are naturally drawn to the various diseases that periodically lay waste to poor quarters of Korvosa while yet others seek transformative agents to wipe away their grim memories or to remedy their twisted bodies. Players might consider the chirurgeon, mindchemist and vivisectionist archetypes from Ultimate Magic as well the following discoveries dispelling bomb, poison bomb(APG), mummification and sunlight bomb (UM).

Cavalier: Far from the prestigious soldier academies of Cheliax and Taldor, many local cavaliers instead take up the mantle of the law, serving in the city guards corps or as enforcers for the local nobility or its enterprising mages, regal and unswerving in their prowess. The local members of Shoanti quah's and Varisian caravans also have their own cavaliers. While the Chelaxian populace of Korvosa might not recognize their authority, none can question their mastery of the horse and the lance. Discerning players might consider the Emissary, Standard Bearer and Tactician (UC) archetypes and the orders of the Lion, Shield and Star (APG) as well as the orders of the Blue Rose and the Tome (UC). Cavaliers of the Order of the Star should consider the deities Abadar, Asmodeus, Pharasma Sarenrae and Shelyn, all of which have a strong presence in Korvosa.

Gunslinger: The exotic secrets of black powder have by and large eluded the frontiers of Varisia, both distance and the relative modernity working against their adoption by the martial enthusiasts of the region, but that is not to say that devotees of this strange fighting style are entirely unknown in Korvosa. Many are the exotic wares carted from the cutters and brigs moored in the dockside piers and not all of them end up gathering dust in some forgotten armory: Janderhoffian engineers recognize the untapped potential of gunworks and and there are even whispers of the city guard experimenting with these new weapons. Should you wish to try your hand at gunslinging, archetypes such as Gun Tank, Musket Master and Pistolero, all from Ultimate Combat would be well worth your time.

Inquisitor: Faith is its own reward, they say. For an inquisitor this holds true, but they are prepared to take the next step and reward others with such bliss as well. Korvosa harbors many organized churches and still more lesser convents and cults. Of these those of Abadar, Asmodeus, Sarenrae and Pharasma all have the organizationional ability and resources to perform inquisitions. To be an inquisitor in Korvosa is to be a seeker of truth and justice in what one too many a bard has called a "quagmire of bureaucratic sloth and a temple to graft". More worldly types would simple call Korvosa a city far too enchanted by its own laws. From hunting illegal necromancers to raiding Cerulean society pesh dens and from championing the order of Hell to serving undercover as a diplomatic envoy, Korvosan inquisitors certainly have their hands full. Such busy types might want to adopt the Preacher and Sin Eater (UM) archetypes or the Spellbreaker and Witch Hunter (UC) archetypes.

Magus: Few have the time or the will to master the kind of synergistic approach to combat that a magus practices, but many try. Some of these end up in the Acadamae while still more seek internships as private conductors for mercenary corps or as bodyguards for various guilds instead of suffering through the arduous regime of the mage academy's faculty. Some magi adopt Varisian combat styles using the rapier and the starknife while others merely pick a magic trick here and there to augment their martial history - for instance, Ulfen and Dwarven skirnir favor this approach. The following archetypes work best for The Crimson Throne Adventure Path: Bladebound, Hexcrafter and Staff Magus from Ultimate Magic and Myrmidarch, Skirnir and Soulforger from Ultimate Combat.

Oracle: The relative proximity to the Shoanti holds in North and to the curious ruins that litter the countryside of Varisia's coast inspire a deep mysticism in some of the inhabitants of this small city state. For some it is a calling of sorts, paving the way for strange powers to awaken. Easily mistaken for sorcerers because of the vivid aura of power and glamour surrounding them, Varisian oracles are as varied as their sponsors, the unknown outsiders or spirits guiding them. Some attribute this mystique and allure to devil worship, while still others scoff at the oracles and think them just plain insane. For those oracles interested in thematically Varisian mysteries, have a look at bones, lore and life from Advanced Player's Guide and ancestors, metal and time from Ultimate Magic along with such curses as clouded vision, haunted and wasting (AP).

Summoner: Korvosan conjurers, what with the ruling body of bureaucrats and nobles having some less than covert prestige with their Chelaxian forebears' deviltry, form the bulk of the local body of mages and wizarding practitioners. Summoners on the other are a bit of conundrum to most people: outwardly resembling the feared and respected wizards, but sharing a strange druid-like bond with strange beasts, they exist in a crux between acceptance and shun where only their actions can dictate whether they share people's trust or bare the brunt of their ire. Korvosan summoners might sport such archetypes as Broodmaster and Master Summoner (UM), and favor the aquatic(UM) and biped(APG) types.

Witch: Curious are the times when the country folk don't see this or that wisewoman or apothecary burned at the stake or thrown, bound in chains and shackles, into a lake, but Korvosa, thanks to being generally speaking a rather civilized bit of Golarion, has a decent respect for witchery, as long as it's not done on the street or in the middle of a market day. Rashes need seeing to, poultices brewing and lost husbands finding and for those without a reasonable source of income, or maybe a coffer in Abadar's Bank, local alchemists and clerics are often beyond reach. The friendly old crone, the wizened animal whisperer, the strangely alluring busybody who talks to the dead, their prices are cheaper, yet look out, you might get more than you bargain for. For those in the need for a Korvosan witching hour, Ultimate Magic has their needs covered with such archetypes as Gravewalker and Hedge Witch, along with the following hexes: feral speech, prehensile hair and water lung. APG has few more to offer: cackle, flight, fortune and healing.

No spoilers there, actually, since I wrote it with my players in mind. Might be useful to someone, I dunno.


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CotCT spoilers:

I've been a player in two CotCT campaigns and in my experience Lamm makes for a poor foundation and should be a minor part of your character. Both games dealt with him in the first session, and this seems to be the norm. It doesn't really give you much time to form party bonds and the first game basically had the legs kicked out from underneath it. We had a bunch of damaged, disparate, and not very good people who no longer had a reason to stay together and were near instantly asked to become members of the guard and save the city. The situation quickly escalates so that a small group of low level, recently deputized characters are expected to deal with anarchy, assassins, cultists, evil leaders, and plague and damn near all at once. We were hard pressed to justify why our characters would do any of this and not just leave, and it ultimately led to the death of the first game.

My recommendation, make a big damn hero or someone who really cares about Korvosa and leave Lamm as a B motivation. For the second game we prepped characters more for being members of the guard saving the city and it worked much, much better. Two of us had some beef with Lamm but the ghost brought us together as people who could help her and served as the catalyst for us staying together and doing more good.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

this is a great resource!

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