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New Adventures Against the Crimson Throne, Part 2

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Last week, I started running down my favorite new additions to the hardcover edition of Curse of the Crimson Throne—and this week I'll be doing more of the same! This time, I look at some of my favorite new additions to the campaign that appear in the final two chapters of the Adventure Path, as well as explore the contents of the extensive appendix that rounds out the book.

Chapter 5: Skeletons of Scarwall

Filling Up Scarwall

Scarwally is one of the largest dungeon crawls to ever appear in a Pathfinder Adventure Path. So large, in fact, that in its original incarnation I ended up having to cut several encounters and replace them with generic and uninteresting storerooms and kitchens and the like. When I started developing the text for the hardcover version, I went back to Greg's original turnover and found all sorts of old encounters that got cut for space. And so of COURSE I put them back in! Now, the saga of the undead orc chieftain Ukwar is there for your PCs to unravel, along with several other restored encounters. But even putting all of those encounters back in didn't do the trick; there were still empty rooms! And so I made up several brand-new encounters to spice things up even more, including a new category of haunt called a phantasm. I'm eager to see how folks react to phantasms, since they exist primarily to both fill in backstory and provide hints to solve the castle haunting, but also to mess with the players themselves, so they never no exactly what's going on. Phantasms generally ask that the GM have a specific player roll a skill check or saving throw or other die roll, but then advice the GM to make a show of noting the result without saying why. Other phantasms cause a PC to experience a vision that other PCs don't, but suggest the GM impart this information individual to players so the players themselves don't have the benefit of knowing the full picture of what's going on. It's a pretty meta way to handle haunts, and should help to infuse Scarwall with a sense of dread that will put even the most hardened players on edge.

As an example, here's a sample phantasm taken directly from the text:

Phantasm: The first PC who moves to investigate the strip of cloth must attempt a Will save. When you know the result, write it down and tell the player (regardless of the result) that his character feels a sudden panic at being caught in the arrow slit while trying to escape a murderous orc that's right behind him! Of course, there is no orc, and the Will save has no significance beyond being an attempt to unsettle the players.

(This particular phantasm is a haunt left behind by a castle servant who was indeed chased by an orc; when the servant tried to escape by squeezing throw an arrow slit, he got stuck and then murdered by the orc. In this way, the phantasm gives the players a brief glimpse into one of the numerous atrocities that occurred in Scarwall in the past, but also tinkers with their sense of safety and comfort by having a player roll a Will save that has no obvious immediate result.)

As noted early in the chapter, not all tables will be entertained by phantasms, and in fact I suspect some players will be more frustrated than entertained by them—and as such, you should feel free to omit them from your game if you see players reacting with frustration at their inclusion. They're meant to add to Scarwall's overall sense of haunting menace, but removing them won't cripple the plot at all.

Chapter 6: Crown of Fangs

Bolstering the Opposition

Unlike Castle Scarwall, Castle Korvosa was fully detailed in its original publication. It helped, of course, that Castle Korvosa wasn't intended to be a hyper-detailed dungeon crawl, but an active and occupied castle meant for several swift strikes rather than meticulous exploration. There's not a lot of new content in Castle Korvosa, as a result, but in the last part of the adventure I did add a few brand new encounters, both to mix things up a bit and to give Queen Ileosa more allies to call upon if things go bad. Among these additional threats in the Sunken Queen are two entities that have eldritch links to Runelord Sorshen—a scarlet walker (an extraplanar menace first detailed in the Anniversary Edition of Rise of the Runelords) and an immortal ichor that formed not from a god's blood but of seepage from the Everdawn Pool. And of course, there's one more monster at Ileosa's side in the final encounter!

Appendix

We've seven appendices in this book, each of which is intended to help the GM run her Crimson Throne game, or to expand it beyond the scope of the adventures as written.

Appendix 1: Continuing the Campaign

This short appendix suggests seven additional plots that can be expanded by you, the GM, to continue your Crimson Throne game, including one variant that sees Ileosa come back as a vampire! (And yes, of course we gave you art of vampire Ileosa!)

Appendix 2: Korvosa and Beyond

The adventures themselves present all the information about Korvosa you'll need to run encounters key to Crimson Throne's plot, but as in any urban game, your PCs will wander. This appendix presents a detailed gazetteer of Korvosa as it exists under Ileosa's rule, and serves as an expansion to the original Guide to Korvosa we published long ago. While owning that book will certainly help you run a Crimson Throne campaign, I strived to include enough information in this appendix that it's not necessary. In addition to all sorts of adventure hooks and location descriptions for the city, this appendix presents multiple city stat blocks for Korvosa as it undergoes numerous changes during the course of the campaign (from a healthy city to one on the edge of anarchy to one in the grips of a plague to one under martial law). Nearly three pages of rumor tables will help you drop hints to your players to foreshadow upcoming events, and advice on places where the PCs can rest and recuperate, shop for magic, or secure spellcasting services rounds the appendix out, along with some additional notes on the surrounding lands (including the Cinderlands themselves).

Appendix 3: The Harrow

The Harrow has always held a powerful role in Curse of the Crimson Throne, and this appendix not only provides you advice on how to use Harrow readings in your game and a mechanic for the PCs to use those harrow readings to influence fate, but also includes a list of what every single card in the Harrow deck symbolizes in the context of Curse of the Crimson Throne, so that when you pull a card during a reading, you'll know precisely what that card means for the PCs and their destiny.

Appendix 4: Blood and Pain

This short chapter is a sort of catch-all—here you've got rules for the plague that wracks Korvosa, but also rules for a kyton eidolon subtype. Why the subtype? Well, in the original version of the Adventure Path, we had an NPC named Shadowcount Sial, who had levels in a prestige class called "thaumaturgist"—a class that allowed a character to gain the services of an extraplanar minion. This prestige class, alas, was not one we updated into the Pathfinder rules, and while I initially toyed with doing so in this book, I settled on something better. I translated Shadowcount Sial into an unchained summoner, which gave me the perfect opportunity to give rules for kyton eidolons—something that there was no room to include in Pathfinder Unchained but which I know many folks have been asking for!

Appendix 5: Equipment and Magic

There's a few new items of equipment and many more new magic items to be found in this campaign—and they're all presented in this appendix. While some of these are updates from the original campaign (such as the third eye, Zellara's Harrow Deck, or the Crown of Fangs itself), others are brand new or have been quantified as items for the first time, including full details on the Everdawn Pool and rules for the strange poison known as "fool's leprosy" that Ileosa uses on her husband!

Appendix 6: NPC Codex

Curse of the Crimson Throne relies heavily on its NPCs, be they villains or allies. This appendix begins with an index that lists all of the significant NPCs in the adventure, along with their role and the page number you can find their stats on. But the meat of this appendix are the twelve significant NPCs presented in two-page formats. Here's where you'll find information on key NPCs like Laori Vaus, Blackjack, and Ileosa herself, along with a few newcomers—we've included statistics for Kazavon himself, for example, in case your PCs are unfortunate enough to let the mighty blue dragon come back to life! Many of these NPC entries include additional rules options utilized by these characters, such as new spells or feats—and if the PCs play their cards right, they'll be able to learn these new options from NPCs they encounter!

Appendix 7: Bestiary

Finally, we've got the bestiary. Here, we've provided several random encounter tables for you to roll up wandering monsters to spice up play, but have also presented full stat blocks for several new monsters: the soul-powered akaruzug, the tragic chained spirit, the malevolent danse macabre, the immense and alien havero, the plucky house drake, the pain-infused pharmakos, the lumbering red reaver, and two types of vermin that infest the city of Korvosa: drain spiders and dream spiders.

More Art!

And of course, I don't want to leave you without showing off some more of the new art we ordered for the hardcover edition. Check out these new interpretations of classic fights from the original adventures!


Illustrations by Caio Maciel Monteiro, Subroto Bhaumik, and Kent Hamilton

And that's enough for this week—tune in next week the last of our Crimson Throne blog previews, where I'll provide a player-friendly post that lists many of the faces of Korvosa—NPCs your characters can expect to encounter or at least hear about during the campaign. Of course, I'll leave it to your actual game play experience to find out which of these NPCs is your friend or foe!

James Jacobs
Creative Director

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Caio Maciel Monteiro Curse of the Crimson Throne Kent Hamilton Pathfinder Adventure Path Subroto Bhaumik
Grand Lodge

I didn't know the Harrow deck was important in Curse! :D Can't wait for the hardcover and pawns now..


What about stats for the Judgement Devil (Ashmede)?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
What about stats for the Judgement Devil (Ashmede)?

Nihil's still there, never fear. She's not "new content" though, so didn't really warrant any special mention above.

Silver Crusade

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

Ooo, Phantasms sound really cool. I always liked things like that in movies and video games.


James Jacobs wrote:
Berselius wrote:
What about stats for the Judgement Devil (Ashmede)?
Nihil's still there, never fear. She's not "new content" though, so didn't really warrant any special mention above.

Did the Ashmede get new stats in the Bestiary section though?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Berselius wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Berselius wrote:
What about stats for the Judgement Devil (Ashmede)?
Nihil's still there, never fear. She's not "new content" though, so didn't really warrant any special mention above.
Did the Ashmede get new stats in the Bestiary section though?

Nope. Her stats are in the running text. ^_^

(This presumably means that they're updated to Pathfinder standards, though.)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Berselius wrote:
What about stats for the Judgement Devil (Ashmede)?
Nihil's still there, never fear. She's not "new content" though, so didn't really warrant any special mention above.
Did the Ashmede get new stats in the Bestiary section though?

Nope. If they did, I would have listed them above. The ashmede is a monster picked up from a 3rd party book, and when we do that, they aren't treated as "new monsters."


So it's going to remain a 3rd party monster then. Nutbunnies. :(

Paizo Employee Creative Director

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
So it's going to remain a 3rd party monster then. Nutbunnies. :(

As do all the other 3rd party monsters we use in the adventure. That's kind of one of the whole POINTS of the open gaming movement.


Vampire Ileosa? YES, YES, YES!


Ugh, I can't pick up my copy until tomorrow... I'm so impatient!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

YAY! *enjoys making the PCs sweat* PHANTASMS FTW!!!


James Jacobs wrote:
Berselius wrote:
So it's going to remain a 3rd party monster then. Nutbunnies. :(
As do all the other 3rd party monsters we use in the adventure. That's kind of one of the whole POINTS of the open gaming movement.

I know, I was just hoping Pathfinder would make the Judgement Devil an official Pathfinder core rules monster but I guess copyright would kind of make that impossible huh?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Berselius wrote:
So it's going to remain a 3rd party monster then. Nutbunnies. :(
As do all the other 3rd party monsters we use in the adventure. That's kind of one of the whole POINTS of the open gaming movement.
I know, I was just hoping Pathfinder would make the Judgement Devil an official Pathfinder core rules monster but I guess copyright would kind of make that impossible huh?

It's open content. The schir demon is from the same book, but we ended up putting it into a Bestiary. We haven't made that decision for the ashmede, but regardless, the Crimson Throne hardcover isn't the place to do that. It's bestiary is devoted to monsters that DON'T have representation in other books; monsters that were legitimately new to the campaign that haven't been updated.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

It all looks good, but didn't we already see the danse macabre picture in the artwork preview? Not that I object per se - it's a great picture - but I was hoping for some different new art.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Bellona wrote:
It all looks good, but didn't we already see the danse macabre picture in the artwork preview? Not that I object per se - it's a great picture - but I was hoping for some different new art.

Maybe. My fault if we did preview it. Chalk it up to me perhaps going in to work when I should have done another sick day to fully recover from a head cold, I suppose.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Bellona wrote:
It all looks good, but didn't we already see the danse macabre picture in the artwork preview? Not that I object per se - it's a great picture - but I was hoping for some different new art.
Maybe. My fault if we did preview it. Chalk it up to me perhaps going in to work when I should have done another sick day to fully recover from a head cold, I suppose.

*hugs T-Rex with snuggly blanket*


*sigh* Vampire Ileosa isn't nearly as hot as I'd hoped...

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