For me also, outdoor flipmats appeal more. I particularly like the Farmstead and Airship suggestions above.
Others I'll add:
8. Lake-shore. (Something with enough of both land/beach and water to allow for the opening scene of Skull & Shackles, or the giant turtle attack in Kingmaker.) Maybe one side has sandy beach and the other side has grassy shore.
9. Very light forest (tree trunks with plenty of space between them on one side; on the other, EITHER add a narrow stream, or just have even more widely scattered trees on a plain)
10. Hedge maze. (One side with statues and park-like decor, the other side a straight-up hedge maze; OR one side where there are many interconnected paths to get to the same places, the other where it is more of a true maze with one "correct" path to the center from each entry point).
11. Forest with a large hollow tree-house
12. High-in-the-Forest suspended huts/rope-bridges (ala Ewok village)
The Patriot Guard Riders came to my step-brother's funeral to shield us from the Westboro people. They rode their motorcycles as an escort between funeral home and cemetery. They also stood in a huge circle around both venues, each person holding the flagpole of one flag, and the outer top corner of the next person's flag, to create a protected area so we couldn't even see the Westboro folks out beyond them.
It was incredibly moving to realize that the Patriod Guard had traveled however far each of them needed to go, and given of their time to protect a soldier and his family.
The key points are:
And thanks for being willing to step up and help!
Instead of the omelette king, eel, and manticore quill quests as written, I made all three things that the PCs needed to do to impress the centaurs and get them to move up the scale from hostile to friendly.
First I used the "kankerata run" proposed in another thread, then the centaurs challenged the PCs to bring back both a roc egg and the manticore quills as needed components for very special tribal tattoos. One of the friendlier centaurs (who the PCs had helped during the kankerata run) quietly mentioned to the PCs that if they also brought a bunch of eels from Lake Silverstep, they'd win some popularity as the eels are favorites of many of the centaurs.
Keep in mind that it takes a fair amount of time to complete an Adventure Path. I've run several now - Age of Worms and Rise of the Runelords each took about 2 years. I'm currently running Kingmaker, and with more than a year of playing, we're about 40% complete.
I've heard of groups here on the boards that can complete the APs a lot faster than this, but I have the (unconfirmed) impression those are students who have a lot more free time, so can meet more often or for longer sessions. For comparison, my group plays weekly, about 5 to 6 hours per week.
Adventure paths are a wonderful way to get some practive writing your own stuff when you want to, without the stress when you don't. I ran Age of Worms (from the old Dungeon magazine) pretty much as written. For Rise of the Runelords, I mostly stuck to the adventures for the first 3 chapters, with some additional material I borrowed from Moonbeam's excellent campaign journal here on the boards; then I heavily modified the last 3 chapters. (I certainly didn't need to do that, by the way - but I had the time and some ideas I wanted to try out, so I tinkered as much as I was confortable with.) As for my current Kingmaker campaign, that one really encourages a lot of GM creativity, so I've been adding in a lot of extra material as I go.
After my long post above, I realized I failed to answer the OP's actual question...
When I ran the zombie apocalypse section of my campaign, the person who got the most frustrated was the one who had a social-skills-maxed PC. This despite the fact that I had a bunch of NPC "ordinary folks" survivors that the PCs needed to interact with - because I didn't successfully make that part as important or engaging as the climb-across-the-rooftops, find-supplies, and hold-off-the-zombies-long-enough-for-the-survivors-to-escape portions of the adventure. Those creating PCs in the role of defenders tended to die first, because they would hold the line while others escaped, and were more likely to get bitten. (Bite was auto-infection and incurable when I ran it.)
If I had it to do over, I'd perhaps inform the players that they would be "exploring a long-abandoned settlement" - or else I'd let them know I'd be auditing their characters before the campaign started, and I'd just give suggestions to those who seemed likely to suffer from lack-of-spotlight-opportunity.
I ran a campaign like this not too long ago. But instead of a "zombie apocalypse" campaign, I envisioned it as a more complex horror campaign.
I told everyone to create six 1st level PCs to start with, and did not tell them what the campaign would be about, only that it was going to be a "meat-grinder" and that they needed lots of PCs so they'd always have replacements ready. Then I created four images (a city, a village, a forested wilderness, and a haunted-looking hallway). At the first session, they each selected one of their PCs for each of the images (balancing party roles somewhat to make interesting possible parties) - I told them (falsely) that I'd be selecting one of the four parties randomly as their starting group.
The truth was that I ran four concurrent adventures; every time we hit a good cliffhanger, I'd switch to the next story (typically spending a reasonable amount of time in each). The PCs in each of the four stories were suddenly pulled into the setting of that story from wherever they came from, similar to the mists of the old Ravenloft setting.
The four stories were:
In a deserted (except for the zombies) city. The PCs and about two dozen normal folks suddenly find themselves on the street, and the zombies are approaching. Hole up in a tavern, then escape to the row of shops (with residences above) across the street, and across rooftops to find a better sanctuary. They found a very secure bank, got everyone in through the roof, then left the innocents there while they went out to gather supplies. During exploration, they found evidence of other survivors, only to learn they'd been wiped out more recently; then they found a female vampire who was creating plague rats to create the zombie plague. They defeated her (and she departed in mist form for parts unknown). Finally they discovered that they could escape the city by climbing down a cliff (zombies can't climb), and they got as many of their survivors out as they could.
* A "village of the damned":
Started with a gargoyle attack, and escape from them through a one-way force field that the gargoyles can't cross through. The PCs find themselves in a creepily friendly village cut off from the outside world (can't exit the force field). I had the entire village mapped and every inhabitant defined. The PCs are encouraged to split up to stay with different families, and to select useful work from the various types offered by village life. They gradually notice that while there are adults of all ages, there are no children in the village. After interacting with the villagers, and getting really paranoid, the PCs eventually discover that the village is under an unaging effect (once you reach adulthood) maintained by the dome, and that about 30 additional village folk are petrified as statues in a forest clearing within the big force field area - all part of the curse in exchange for living forever beneath the dome. The NPCs want to exchange the lives of these strangers (the PCs) for an equal number of their kinfolk - but first have a nighttime gathering at the statues to draw lots for whose relatives will be released. A tiny number of the townsfolk are actually yuan-ti, and the village mayor is the only one who goes to speak to the "hag of the fens" - actually the yuan ti leader. The PCs ultimately defeat the yuan-ti beneath an old tower in the fens and destroy the power source for the force field. The gargoyles snatch up any remaining yuan-ti and depart, and the PCs (and their few friends among the villagers) can depart the creepy village.
* A forest inhabited by werewolves.
A werewolf tribe lives in the forest, and preys on the people who on occasion are pulled into this world. The PCs find a couple of other folk who have been desperately avoiding the werewolves for a week or more, including a woman and her very young son. They eventually realize that the woman is terrified because she and her son were captured by the werewolves, then released, but they informed her that her little boy was soon going to change into a werewolf. She was told that the only thing that can save the boy is the death of the lead werewolf on a sacred altar, and only if that is done before he first changes at the next full moon. In fact, she is the one the werewolves infected – when she changes, her first victim is intended to be her son. The PCs eventually figure this out, then find their way to the mystical clearing where the werewolves dwell, seeing lots of evidence of the sadistic and misogynistic nature of the lead werewolf along the way. After a big fight, manage to spill the blood of the lead werewolf on the sacred altar, freeing the woman from the curse of lycanthropy. NOTE: If I had it to do over, I’d work on this story more, as it turned out quite boring compared to all the others.
* Haunted House
The PCs find themselves in the front garden of a house that is surrounded by poison mist. As they explore the grounds, then the house, they experience a series of Haunts that tell the story of the place. A man who once was a ship captain rescued a beautiful kalashtar woman from pirates (haunt at the captured pirate flag in the basement), and fell in love with her – the visions (from treasured items in the parlor) hint that she used enchantment magic to gain his love and protection. He brought her home and married her (haunt at the old wedding arch in the basement), and they had four daughters. However, the man became increasingly angry that he had no son to be his heir. Eventually he brought a warlock into his house, who performed a ritual that made the woman pregnant with a son. During the ritual (in a hidden room with summoning circle the basement) an apprentice said a word wrong, and a much more powerful devil appeared than expected; it killed the warlock but still gave the husband what he needed for his wife. The husband put the devil-provided powder into a drink for his wife. Eventually, she gave birth in the master bedroom – horrifying devil-plants erupted from her, killing her and the midwife, then a small devil climbed out of her and toward the sisters’ bedrooms. The devil baby found the youngest daughter hiding under her bed and after she met its eyes, she dropped her favorite doll and crawled out, picked up the baby, and walked toward the stairs down. A maid had escape the house in terror (haunt at the front door) and brought the Inquisition (haunt at the back door of them entering); a haunt on the stairs showed the chief inquisitor being hurled away be the youngest daughter (carrying what they had earlier assumed to be her doll) as she strides confidently from the house. The older sisters were trapped in their bedroom by the still-growing devil plants. The remaining inquisitors set fire to the house, burning it down with the sisters trapped in the bedroom above.
After experiencing all the visions and learning the entire story, as the PCs exit the house, the ghost of the wife appears to them. “Save my little girl,” she says, handing them the baby doll that the daughter dropped when she picked up the devil baby. Then she, the mist, and the haunted house all fade away.
When the PCs in the various groups (and some of the replacement PCs, because I killed six or eight PCs during the above) completed these stories, they found themselves on the road and meeting up with the other groups. At that point, I started running the original Castle Ravenloft adventure.
The gypsy seer advised them to select a small group to attempt a raid on the castle. I changed a fair amount – mostly using the original adventure, but adding some elements from the Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (devil garden with the baby devil now all grown up and the adult-youngest-sister still in his thrall). I created a fair number of haunts within the castle itself, and a number of specific powerful magic items that needed to be collected, then rituals performed in specific other rooms to activate their powers and to remove specific defenses from Strahd. Of course, the card reading at the gypsy camp determined the important locations for all these elements. And I used a modified idea of the linked sites from the Expedition version – whenever one of the four “remove a defense from Strahd” fights happened, the PCs in the appropriate room in the castle, and an equal number of spare PCs who went to that wilderness site, had to perform the ritual, linking the two locations, then have a big battle against that site’s special guardians.
I mapped out the entire castle on easel-pad grid paper so I could quickly flip between floors, and covered areas they hadn’t yet explored with post-its or larger pages. Because they had to collect items and then activate them elsewhere, the PCs actually ended up moving back and forth throughout the castle quite a bit. Whenever a PC died (reasonably frequent!), the gypsy leader would have conveniently foreseen the death and sent another replacement PC wandering up to the castle from the village – having to get that person safely into the castle and with the group also required some occasional back-tracking.
Anyway, all this is to say, you can just do “zombie apocalypse” or you can combine it with other horror stuff, rotate through, and make it a lot more interesting!
When am I going to buy my next Paizo book?
Sorry Cheapy but the Ask *Cosmo* thread is one messageboard over and to the left. Please reserve this space for all the accountings of the tragedies Cosmo is rightfully responsible for. :3
Totally Cosmo's fault. He obviously moved Cheapy's post from that thread to this one.
Cosmo please shrink the US so everyone can get together more often, or ill blame you. If you can do so Yay! ... And I blame you for not doing so sooner.
In Cosmo's defense, I think he's already been trying to do this. You know, like putting a sweater in the dryer. Because he is responsible for global warming, right?
Seriously, have a talk with the player before the next session. Explain to him that if he wants to play this adventure, he needs to play along with the plot a bit more. His character is surrounded by far too many foes, and if the character continues to act like an idiot, he's going to get killed.
Adventure paths require a group that is interested in pursuing the story they lay out. There are plenty of decisions the player can make on how to approach things, but they can't outright refuse the main storyline without making things really annoying for everyone else (GM and other players). Ask him if he's acting this way because he misunderstood and thought from the adventure name that he was supposed to be able to mutiny right away, or if he really thinks that the fun thing to do here is to be so obnoxious that he makes it impossible for everyone else to play the game?
Since the player wants to do this for disguises, maybe add a restriction that the spell ends if the polymorphed/disguised creature makes an attack. You may also want to prevent any spellcasting as well (to avoid the whole "summoning spells aren't attacks" category of cheese).
Maybe make a whole new set of Mass ___ Form spells with these restrictions - one that allows form of "small harmless animals" (including birds), one that allows disguise as humanoids, one that allows specific useful larger creatures such as horses...
In my campaign, Malfeshnekor eventually was released (the PCs couldn't kill him but left him trapped in the room when they finished clearing out Thistletop, but left the path to his room more obvious, and some other goblinoids eventually managed to let him loose - all dying in the process).
In chapter 4 (vs. the stone giants), the PCs encountered Mal again, and ended up allying with him, because he was hunting the giants.
Mal was trapped for 10,000 years by followers of Karzoug; Mal was loyal to Alaznist; now the giants are working for Karzoug, and trying to bring him back; kill the giants to prevent the return of Karzoug.
I ended up with a new player to our group taking on Mal as his PC (mechanically statted up as a shifter druid, I believe).
I used to use a white board, but now I use paper from 1-inch-grid easel pads (the kind that companies use during meetings). You can usually find a four-pack of easel pads at a decent price at the online versions of one or another of the big box office supply stores. Watch out that you're not looking at the version with the sticky backing across the top - it costs twice as much.
I switched back to paper because it lets me prep multiple maps in advance, and I can take more time on some maps than I would want to spend if drawing it during the game. Also, when I did the original Ravenloft adventure last year, it was amazing being able to layer the maps so everyone could see how the staircases lined up.
Like creating a set of granted boons that the PCs gain as they progress through the adventure, which specifically boost their ability vs. specific foes.
Like a set of items or rituals that allow the PCs to bypass immunities and other defenses of ultra-powerful foes.
Like specific materials which, when activated by specific rituals, are capable of harming ultra-powerful demon lords who might otherwise be invulnerable.
And like any of the options I've just listed, but having them grant the PCs a set of special defenses which allow the PCs to survive combat with said demon lord long enough to use these weapons/boons/etc.
These are the sorts of things I imagine I'll be doing if I ever run Wrath of the Righteous, to translate the adventures to my preferred edition. (Which would currently be 4th, but by the time I get around to running this AP, it's more likely to be D&D Next - and referring to 1st edition was a better comparison to Next for asking my question.*)
None of these options require a separate ruleset, and none of them need to escalate the actual power of the PCs in most combats. Instead, they specifically address the power of the PCs only against the precise foes that otherwise couldn't be faced. So because they would only apply to those particular fights, the abilities wouldn't need to be "balanced" to work with everything else in the game.
Which isn't the way Paizo chose to go, and that's fine - I'm curious to see what they came up with instead, and what it offers that the above choices wouldn't. But the above options would make it easier for some of us to feel comfortable "buying in" - and that's useful for Paizo to consider, if only to be aware that some of us are having these questions. Because if many of us are expressing these concerns now from the way they've so far explained the AP, maybe they want to rethink how they're explaining it to us in advance of the actual publication.**
And I'd like to emphasize in response to others who posted above - if you're a Paizo fan (and not a Paizo employee), you shouldn't be telling folks on the boards that we're not part of Paizo's target market. We might choose to believe you, and then you've just cost Paizo revenue. Let Paizo tell us if they don't want us buying their products to use our way...
* Please don't restart the edition wars over this point in my post.
** Personally, my concerns have already been answered by Paizo. I don't need any additional response to this from Paizo employees to be willing to purchase this AP. Instead, I'm posting this for the benefit of the other folks in this thread who don't seem to understand why we might have qualms about Paizo's apparent direction.
Perhaps the girl can talk to the PCs, now that she's no longer bound in the doll. i.e. the compulsions may be gone, and she's just trapped now.
To explain why she didn't immediately speak to them after the doll was destroyed, maybe she can only do so in dreams, or maybe she chooses to use (creepy) dreams in order to avoid being spied on via the mirror as she tells her story?
If you're one of the people who runs a strictly-core game, I feel confident in saying you're in the minority in regards to your desires for the content of future APs, and not among the main avenue of customers Paizo is aiming their business model at, regardless of whether you frequent the forums or not.
I don't think this is a helpful way of interpreting Riggler's comments. Or mine, for that matter.
Paizo probably doesn't have a business model that aims at only the buy-everything subset of customers. If they narrow the definition of their target market that much, they end up speaking to an increasingly narrow aucience. On the other hand, if they offer products which appeal to a wide variety of play styles, setting choices, and so forth, they widen their potential audience. Take a look at their products - or even just the way that Golarion itself is designed - and you'll see their choices to widen, not narrow, their appeal.
As James Jacobs said above, it's in Paizo's interests that various game books be useful for future products. But as Riggler and I have pointed out (Riggler by not wanting to be required to buy those books in order to run the other adventures, me because I run another edition of the game entirely but prefer to run Paizo adventure paths), it's just as important that those of us who are selective with our purchases can feel comfortable we'll have everything we need to run an AP if we buy that AP.
Will the supplemental books that come out alongside it (the Irrisen book for Reign of Winter, etc.) add additional material and ideas that we can use to flesh out the campaign? Absolutely, and that's wonderful. But if we can't run the AP at all without having one of those supplemental purchases, that's a much bigger problem.
For Riggler, it might come down to budget - the cost of the AP is the amount being committed to, and any required items above and beyond that cause problems. (By the way, Riggler, I apologize for putting words in your mouth here.) For me, my concern was the possible drift from the core game - not the core rules, but the feel and style of the game itself. I like playing D&D, and as long as the Paizo adventure paths continue to be D&D, regardless of edition, I can convert them to my preferred ruleset and play them. But if a supplemental ruleset changes things so much that I have trouble recognizing it as D&D...
Which, by the way, was my concern when I posted above (a few days ago), and my concerns in this case were laid to rest by James's response. But I still feel better making sure he and the other folks at Paizo are aware that we're part of their audience. That way, they can weigh our needs (and decide whether or not they're willing to take our needs into account) as they continue to develop new products. If folks like me don't speak up to mention what we need, Paizo doesn't get the feedback to consider us at all. And then we all lose out.
James Jacobs wrote:
James, thanks for the quick response. That's exactly what I was hoping to hear. I remember "Queen of the Spiders" fondly - I ran a group through it during college - so that analogy helps a lot. And comparing to that adventure will probably help a lot to build the enthusiasm for a couple of my players.
I'm very glad to hear that the framework of the adventure will make most of it clear. Currently, I have copies of the Pathfinder monster books to aid my conversions, and I've been able to get by without having to consult the other rule books very often at all - except for some weather and other environmental effects in the last couple of APs, where I've needed to do some quick math to see "how tough is this intended to be for the PCs"...
Okay, count me in!
James Jacobs wrote:
I'm still on the fence about this AP. I'm excited to learn more about the Worldwound, so that's a strong positive. But I convert the APs to another edition rather than using the Pathfinder rules, and it's really hard to tell whether that's going to be possible with Wrath of the Righteous or not.
In my imagination, it seems like the mythic ruleset is comparable to the way I recently ran the original Ravenloft adventure. When the PCs enter the castle, Strahd is invincible and is just toying with the PCs. Then, as they explore the castle, they find various items of power (which I compare to gaining the mythic abilities) which allow the PCs to bypass some of Strahd's specific protections. When they finally face Strahd in the crypts, with those protections gone, it's a tough but winnable fight instead of certain death. I'm not sure if that's really a valid comparison, but if I knew it was, I'd be completely on board. Or is that way too simplistic?
James (hopefully you'll see this post) - I pose this question to you as the developer for this AP... For this AP compared to prior Paizo APs: Where on the scale between "just as easy" to "nearly impossibly harder" do you think that conversion to, say, 1st edition D&D, would fall? Will the sentence I bolded in your quote above be something that could convert to older editions easily with specific granted boons, or would I have to completely convert the entire mythic ruleset?
I believe that the Taldan "Armies of Exploration" that created Rostland (which became southern Brevoy) would have been well prior to the outlawing of Sarenrae worship in Taldor. So the Taldan colonists (hundreds of years ago) would have included worshippers of Sarenrae (and at your DM's discretion, there may be ruined temples of Sarenrae in the Stolen Lands as well, amidst any other ruins he/she adds there).
There probably won't be as much (or any) worship of Sarenrae in northern Brevoy, since they wouldn't have wanted to take cultural elements from their southern "neighbors" - although if your DM wants to, that needn't be true, as Sarenrae missionaries might have traveled north before Brevoy was formed. Then again, unless your DM is adding his/her own material to the storyline to bring you into northern Brevoy, this probably won't affect the campaign much (other than to indicate that your PC should be from southern Brevoy).
I re-envisioned Erastil as promoting Family as the center of all things. So any unmarried adult (male or female) is encouraged to get married, and any married adult is encouraged to have young-uns. And of course, to ensure that those young-uns are provided for, and are given the benefit of their elders' experience. (I.e. parents should be involved in the raising of their kids.)
Just imagine a kindly old grampa who always greets (unmarried adventurer types) with, "Where's da babies at?"
My understanding is that at most RenFaires, they don't allow "anachronistic" booths - so no obviously-modern-manufacture goods, no videos, etc. So role-playing games may not be as good a fit, from their perspective, as it seems from yours. You should probably check into your local Faire's rules before you put too much planning into this...
Yes. Recently for an intrigue-heavy interlude between chapters 2 and 3 of Kingmaker - the PCs ventured into Brevoy to help Lander Lebeda claim his position as head of House Lebeda. I think the whole group enjoyed it.
And back when I ran Rise of the Runelords (converting to 4E and modifying each chapter to encompass 5 levels of play so the path ran from L1-30), the PCs went an entire level without a single combat.
Spoiler:They still brag about it!
It was during chapter 4 (Fortress of the Stone Giants). The PCs had just arrived outside the fortress and were checking out some of the giant tribes, several of which I'd added along with complex politics between the tribes. The PCs managed to make friends with one or two of the tribes that were less happy about being there. Then they re-encountered Malfeshnekor, who was hunting giants because they served Karzoug (whose minions had imprisoned Malfeshnekor for so many centuries), and they made friends (well - common cause) with him. That earned them about a third of the XPs they needed to level. So then one of the players said, "I wonder if we can get through the entire level without having to fight any of the giants." And they proceeded to plan out their negotiations with some of the giant tribes, and ways to scare off others... it was hilarious.
Well, let's see... We're just starting chapter 3.
I ran a separate adventure (conversion of Castle d'Amberville) during the second chapter, and I also ran an extensive adventure during the downtime between chapters 2 and 3.
I re-wrote the kingdom building rules to remove the magic item economy (adding a couple of dozen buildings, redoing all the math).
I've added a lot of details about the politics with Brevoy, Mivon etc.
And I convert everything to 4th edition, so I'm selecting or designing my own stat blocks for all the creatures - mostly pulling close-match-to-the-original-concept stat blocks that seem interesting, then adding a bunch of additional options to flesh out the random encounter options.
I've added a large number of NPCs, and a number of plot-lines that originate from the detailed character backgrounds most of my players provided.
I've added a number of things to foreshadow later chapters, and I've already come up with some major adjustments to the end portion of the plotline...
wherein Nyrissa actually caused the Vanishing using the Oculus of Abadon, then deposited the oculus where Vordakai could get it to use it against Varnhold, and even provided Gunderson with the map he used to find Vordakai's lair and trigger his awakening; among other repurcussions, when the PCs go against Nyrissa, they'll find a bunch of soul jars containing the members of House Rogavia.
So I'm guessing that my Kingmaker campaign has been between 75% and 90% home-brew. WOW! I hadn't realized that until thinking about this question!
Although I want to add (because this makes it seem like I'm claiming 75% to 90% of the credit...) - the Kingmaker campaign as written is amazing. It has all the inspirational and foundational bits in place to really facilitate a DM's creativity. And then there are the message boards - many of the ideas, changes, and enhancements I use are borrowed from other folks' message board posts.
Please, do we have to have another thread where people trash 4E?
I love 4E. Many people do. Many others prefer Pathfinder. Some of us have actually found enjoyment when playing both. Shocking, but true.
People should be passionate about the things they enjoy, and should encourage others who are willing to join them in their preferred activities.
People should not feel it necessary to bash other people's pastimes in order to enjoy their own. It's the worst part of ingroup/outgroup social dynamics.
If you want to enjoy 4E, or Pathfinder, or football, or synchronized swimming, or WWE wrestling, or old episodes of the A-Team... then enjoy it. And if someone tells you that you shouldn't, simply smile and change the subject. Don't validate their bashing of something you enjoy. Just smile and move on.
(Smiling and moving on now...)
That is beautiful! You got it to line up way better than I did back when I tried this - and I was only using the River Kingdoms map and some rectangles for the others. The superimposed maps are marvelous!
I know it's totally up to Paizo, but I hope that if Paizo says it needs to be taken down, they'll coinsider posting it to their blog instead...
I went out of my way to ensure that one of my quietest and most consensus-building players was the obvious choice for ruler.
I also make a point of looking around the table at each player when we're in big interaction scenes. "Okay, we've heard from you, Bob. Joe, what do you want to say?" I try to ensure that the interesting ones are with large groups (so it's reasonable that many side conversations could happen simultaneously) or with people who would pay attention to all PCs regardless of titles (such as powerful fey). The latter can even apply to major NPCs; people like Varn, Drelev, Irovetti, nobles in Brevoy, ambassadors from Mivon, and the like are going to recognize that the king is part of an adventuring party, and are going to want to get a sense of the entire party, not just their nominal leader.
When we take a break from D&D, my group sometimes plays the old Marvel Superheroes game. I'd like to suggest borrowing something from that game's rules.
In Marvel Superheroes, at the end of every session you can earn Karma points, which you can spend later to get auto-successess or to improve your character, or even to power-stunt your way to new powers if they're related to your existing powers.
However, if your PC performs criminal acts or bring harm to people, you gain no Karma for the session and you might even lose Karma you'd earned previously. If you (accidentally or deliberately) kill someone, even utterly evil villains, you lose all your current karma.
In my experience, players make that mistake once - and then they lose a significant amount of karma, and from then on they remember. No evil acts. No non-heroic behavior.
My point is, you might be able to house-rule something similar into Pathfinder, rewarding them 0 XP in sessions where they choose to behave in non-heroic fashion. It's harder for one-shots, but even there you can do something; perhaps -2 penalties to all d20 rolls until they make amends for their non-heroic behavior. Reward the behavior you want to see, and make sure you do nothing to reward the behavior that makes the game un-fun for you.
As I'm reading this thread, I keep thinking about my first impressions of the Skull & Shackles AP. At the very beginning of that path, the PCs get press-ganged into a pirate ship's crew.
In that first adventure, the idea of rape doesn't really come into play. In fact, despite all the cruel and evil things that various bad guy NPCs are represented as doing, I don't recall anything indicating there is any chance of rape occurring. On the contrary, there are many female NPCs (randomly scattered thru the crew, among the officers, even the male captain's female "cabin boy" who seems to be loyal and neither abused nor necessarily sexually involved with the captain) - and the presence of this mix of male and female crew makes it seem highly unlikely that the pirates would take such liberties...
I compare this to Kingmaker's first chapter, and I'll admit, I can see a bit of where the OP is going with these observations. When I ran Stolen Land, I remember that I thought very carefully how to present the bandits so that, when it came time to go against the Stag Lord, if the PCs wanted to try infiltration, they wouldn't think that female PCs were especially at risk. I did downplay a couple of the instances mentioned by the OP. And I wouldn't have put that energy into thinking it through if I hadn't run into the same resonances that the OP mentions.
I can confirm that the rest of the path didn't give me any moments of concern. And that the vast majority of Paizo products, likewise, don't create those sorts of concerns. (The ogres in Rise of the Runelords obviously do, but the ogres are so egalitarian in their tastes - anything that breathes is equally at risk of being victimized - that it certainly doesn't fit the females-as-victims theme.)
For the armored sloop, I picture that it has copper plating (rather than iron plating). There's some sort of process (which I forget the details of) for applying this, which I vaguely recall makes it bond to the iron nails used to assemble the hull??? The benefits are that the copper plating provides some armoring, and also prevents the build-up of barnacles etc. on the wooden hull (which if allowed to build up, over time slows a ship significantly and interferes with its handling, and requires periodic keel-hauling in the non-person-involved sense to scrape the worst of the barnacles loose).
My source for this is a Devid Weber novel ("Off Armageddon Reef" and its sequels; and Weber's done a fair amount of research for his historic naval combat stuff), but I admit I'd have to go find the novel to answer questions about how hard it is to do, and what mechanical effects it should have.
The more likely problem would be the reasonable actions of other people (NPCs) if they ever realize the PC is a potential Rogarvian heir. Noleski Surtova would be near-certain to send someone to try to kill the PC - in a way that prevents any hope of resurrection. The various Rostlanders-for-Independence folks are likely to want the PC dead as well - they have no interest in a Rogarvian heir claiming the throne of Brevoy.
EDIT - Adding this statement: My comments below are not intended to discourage you from pursuing this idea, nor encourage you to punish the player for this plot idea. Instead, this is intended to encourage you to think about cool plot twists that could increase the fun for yourself and your players. As with anything, you don't want to go to far with anything that might seem punitive. With that said...
In fact, for every NPC, the reactions to learning of a potential Rogarvian heir should fall into one of three categories:
NEGATIVE: The NPC wants to ensure the PC's death in order to prevent his possible claim on the throne.
POSITIVE: The NPC wants to gain control over the PC and help him retake the throne so the NPC can control him from behind the scenes, or otherwise gain power and the destruction of the NPC's enemies.
NEUTRAL: The NPC doesn't care if the PC gets the throne or not, but the NPC wants to figure out how to profit from the PC's existence, however things turn out.
I've successfully broken my group of this very problem. It took some time for a couple of them to make the switch, but most of them embraced it without much trouble.
What I did was outright tell them that I will ensure they have the appropriate Wealth By Level that I want them to have. If they go scavenging for every loose coin and bit of enemy gear, it'll add up to the total I want. If they decide to give a large amount away to the starving widow and her six kids, they'll end up with the total I want. Every level, I hand out the right amount in total; every two or three levels, I have one of the players do an audit of how much wealth they have, so I know if I need to adjust things.
I also have "story items" that the group finds because the adventure dictates they will - magic items or art objects that have story significance. Sometimes I designate these as story items when I hand them out - that these are not included in the "wealth by level" amounts they will earn, and they are welcome to keep or dispose of them without it counting toward the treasure they're meant to have. I do this when I want a particular item to stay in the group, but the PCs would normally be likely to unload it. This may be too metagame for some groups, but my players seem so far to appreciate the transparency.
The guy in my group who had the worst trouble accepting all of this has recently made the switch to the opposite extreme - recently, he argued that the group didn't need to bother fully exploring a place they were investigating, because "If we're supposed to end up with more treasure, we'll find it, we don't really need to go looking." Heh.
If you go into the Kingmaker boards, those threads are all "stickied" so they'll stay at the top (albeit in an order determined by the most recent post, rather than the order of the adventures). There are also a few other useful threads stickied there, such as Kingdom Building.
Chapter 3 however is another story. Varnhold Vanishing is the only one of the chapters where neither Nyrissa nor any of her agents has any visible activity. The BBEG, Vordakai, isn't one of her minions.
In my campaign, Nyrissa charmed the fellow who intruded on Vordakai's lair, and gave him the map that he followed to find it; thus, Nyrissa actually triggered Vordakai's awakening. Nyrissa also left the Oculus for him to discover and use; she previously used it (and a large number of mirror-portals) to capture all the blood-descendents of Choral the Conquerer - that's my campaign's version of the Vanishing, and the Rogarvians will be found in mirrors used as Soul-Jars in chapter 6.
In any case, Vordakai doesn't have to know a thing about Nyrissa for her to be using him...
Perhaps she has reason to dislike/distrust whoever would have received your PC's title if your PC was bypassed (perhaps an uncle or cousin of your PC). By officially recognizing a tiefling as the legitimate heir, she gives a major - and very public - brush-off to whoever that person was. It has nothing to do with your PC at all. It also means that the person she disliked has particular reason to hate your PC...
My condolences on your loss.
My current cat crisis:
We adopted a stray kitten a few months ago; or rather, she adpoted us. Her neck was infested with implanted fly larvae (4 of them), and though she was born to a feral cat in the neighborhood, she took up residence on our front porch, and let us pick her up and handle her. And then we saw the "wound"... Our vet dug/pulled the larvae out, and the craters in her neck have healed nicely. We named her Luna. (Craters...)
We thought our older cat Ollie (age 11) was adjusting well. Then he suddenly lost five pounds this past month, and started using the carpet instead of his litter box. The day before driving to GenCon, I finally realized how thin he was, and rushed him to the vet, who said, "It's probably kidney failure, leave him with us and I'll let you know tomorrow."
On the drive to GenCon, we got the call that our cat has no medical problems after all - it's all behavioral from being stressed about the new kitten. (Who does, admittedly, take great delight in jumping on Ollie's face. Constantly.)
So now we are lavishing extra care on our old man, and trying to keep him properly separated from the new kitten. I'll give them both an extra hug tonight in memory of Mervin.
I've read the entry and clicked on the link with the graphic on Kickstarter and just want to be sure: If I pledge $100 am I getting miniatures or just the opportunity to buy minis at a later date?
If you pledge $100, then when they ship (around next March, since they have to make the molds), you get all the minis that are shown as the Vampire level.
What you've got sounds like it will be really cool.
Nyrissa desperately wishes to regain her place within the nobility.
This is just a nitpick, but you may want to change the word "ambition" to something else. The above quote certainly sounds like an ambition to me.
Perhaps what was taken wasn't her ambition, but instead her Luck (good and bad, so she's stuck with mediocrity in her ongoing pursuits)? Or perhaps her "influence" or even her "nobility." Or some other term that would fit with the wildness of the Stolen Lands, but not detract from Nyrissa's current plans.
Mark Hoover wrote:
This situation may be less a fault in your DMing, and more a result of different expectations between you and your players. You are looking to build a story with at least some complexity (clues to be unraveled, mysteries to be investigated). Perhaps your players are looking for a more casual experience.
On the other hand, some things to consider based on the items quoted above:
1. Asking "anything they want to know" sounds very open-ended. If you really phrased it that way, I can imagine your players going blank and not seeing the things they could ask about. Better to prompt them more - perhaps call for a few specific knowledge rolls and give them bits of extra info, and ask if they have any other skills they think might let them figure out additional info.
2. Three clues sounds good. I assume from how you said this that these were obviously clues/info, not concealed in the background with other information. Still, it might be good to look at how obscure the clues were. If the players are being clueless, then choosing some clues next time that can be handed out in a short timespan, and that more obviously go together, might help your players realize this is what you're doing.
3. If you want the PCs to capture and interrogate an NPC, it helps to do something to prompt the players that this NPC is somehow sympathetic. If it's just a normal combat, most players won't think to do anything but whittle down the enemy's hit points til they're gone. You might want to try mentioning that an interrogatable enemy is acting particularly fearful and desperate, and/or is surprisingly young. You could foreshadow a foe as a relative of someone they like, or have a bounty for a particular NPC to be brought in alive. You could even have an NPC surrender outright (or blubber "I don't wanna die" or whatever seems appropriate). Regardless, if they ever do capture and interrogate an NPC, make CERTAIN that you have that NPC give them at least some useful information, or they won't bother to repeat that behavior in the future.
If someone was to give away copies of a book or a CD cost-free and at the same time states "only one per person" for whatever reason they might have, ignoring them and taking 20 copies would be rude and ignoring their wishes. They probably cannot do much about it, besides banning you from getting free stuff ever again or stopping to hand out free stuff - which would be a reasonable response IMO.
There was a case like this recently near where I live. As best I can remember, here's how it went:
At one of the hospitals, there are a variety of free local papers published by various interest groups. They're available for anyone to take, for free, from a number of different wire-frame stands. An employee at the hospital took exception to one of these papers because it was pro-gay-rights, and tossed ALL the copies of that paper into the trash from every single location throughout the hospital. The next time it was published, she did it again.
The publisher found out they'd been tossed in the trash, but the police couldn't do anything because it was available for free, so no crime had been committed. So the publisher changed the cover - instead of saying "FREE" it was changed to say "First copy free, each additional copy 50 cents."
The hospital employee did it again, but this time there was a crime, so police were able to investigate. They identified the employee from the hospital's surveillance cameras and are prosecuting her.
Although this involved physical copies, the scenario is still quite similar. Paizo PDFs have a price tag attached to them (the PDF-only price). Getting a PDF from Paizo allows you the right to a single copy. If you take (copy and distribute) more than one...
Aren't you basically just describing a Superheroes-style universe? If the PCs are the only ones with magical powers et.al., then they're the first "supers." They might use masks/costumes to keep their actual identities secret, or they might not bother, but use teleportation to travel to and from their secret base.
Arrows and bolts automatically miss. Other normal ranged weapons have the miss chance.
WARNING: Application of Real-World Physics to a Game Rules Question:
A firearm projectile may logically fall into this latter category as well, since it travels fast enough that the wind wouldn't automatically fling it away. I suggest thinking of it as, "Does the item in question rely primarily on aerodynamics to float through the air, or on weight and throw weight to send it?" (Or more simply, if I hold this item in the air and then drop it, will air resistance slow it down or change its path to the ground.)
A paper airplane, an arrow with its fletchings, or a bird with wings, all rely on air to support them. A thrown handaxe or a bullet relies more on initial thrust speed and its weight, so just gets the miss chance.
I make my players fill out a 1- or 2-page questionaire for each campaign. I tune the questions to the specific campaign. They can fill in several lines after each question, or answer with single words. Regardless, I then try hard to bring their answers into the story.
Player Background Questionnaire for my Kingmaker campaign::
There is someone in Brevoy with whom you’ve had substantial conflict. Who is it? Why is there conflict between you? How does the conflict usually play out? The idea is to create a connection to someone back home that can be a source of friction.
Someone back home has been a substantial ally of yours; you get along very well. Who is it? Describe an occasion when the alliance came into play. The idea is to create a connection to someone back home that has been a positive influence for you. They need not belong to a PC class. Perhaps they will communicate news and rumors to you, or send new settlers or quests your way. They might even come to your assistance (or expect you to come to their assistance) in time of great need. OPTION: Briefly define up to three separate allies, each with a different relationship to you (parent/sibling/mentor/friend/colleague).
You carry a possession that has great meaning to you. What is it, and why is it so important? Preferably something other than a weapon, implement, armor, or standard gear. It is most interesting when it has a bit of story connected to it.
You have a secret that you hide from others (including the other PCs). What is this secret? e.g. A shameful failure or misdeed in your past that continues to haunt you; a bastard child; a broken betrothal; a fear or desire that affects your decisions. NOTE: This secret should affect the way you play your character, and/or reasonably be brought into play by the DM (eventually).
There is a troubling mystery for which you don’t know the answer. What is this mystery? e.g. A sibling (or your betrothed/ lover/ best friend/longtime rival/mentor) vanished while traveling abroad (or from home or their workplace); you lost something precious to you; an unusual object keeps reappearing in your possessions no matter how often you lose or destroy it; an animal or person keeps watching from a distance, though you never get close (or learn nothing useful when you do); you were once found wandering in the woods with no recollection of how you got there or what happened for a missing period of 10 days/2 weeks/2 months. NOTE: This should be a mystery your character wants to solve, that can reasonably be brought into play by the DM at some point in the campaign; the DM has creative control of this mystery’s final answers.
You have a particular patron who suggested you for the exploration of the Greenbelt. Who is it? What is their interest in this project? What is it about your relationship that makes them think you’ll be a particularly good agent for their interests? The intent is to give you a connection to someone with a political axe to grind. Possible “interests” might include: stabilize the southern border as an future ally for Rostland against the north (Issia); report to someone whose loyalty is to the north (Issia); find means to help prevent civil war between Rostland and Issia; find valuable resources that can be exploited for profit by wealthy investors from Brevoy; represent a specific noble house or other person or group’s interests; OR, your patron might be someone who is politically connected and to whom you owe a debt, and you may not know their actual agenda at this time.
Describe your ideal spouse. This campaign will span years of game time – and many if not all PCs will eventually have families of their own. Assume this, and give some thought to how you want this to develop for your PC. You may already be betrothed or have a beloved. You may already be married. More likely, you will find your true love during the campaign – but it is up to you as the player to help make this happen, both by being open to it, and by providing the DM with enough information to ensure that good candidates can be introduced. You are quite welcome to help create your NPC future spouse, within reason.
What do you like to do when you have down-time? What sorts of hobbies and interests does your PC have? The idea is to make your PC more rounded and interesting by thinking about things other than adventuring that he likes to do – and what sorts of businesses he’ll eventually be interested in promoting. Does he collect something? Make something? Play a musical instrument? Would he rather carouse in a tavern or read a book? Does he enjoy the theater? Dancing? Gambling? Fine food?
Define your family. Either create a family tree, OR list three to five family members of importance to you.
What non-Ruler posting(s) will you as a player be aiming for? For optimal player cooperation, aim for a listed role, and let the eventual “ruler” be chosen by the party for in-game reasons. Each role utilizes ONE of the two attributes listed.