How nice to see you're writing again. Very exciting stuff, as usual.
I've finally started my Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign and I've begun my own journal on these boards. Though I can't claim your writing skills, I hope you'll give it a read. I've borrowed some of your CotCT ingredients, so you might recognize some of your additions to the story in the future.
11 Erastus 4703
The next morning sees the three young friends on the doorstep of an abandoned theatre. This time they are joined by three fellow lambs, Edu and Lick, two fourteen year old boys, and the lambs' senior member, a kind girl of sixteen who goes by the name of Amarice. Overseeing today's operation are Lamm himself, his right hand man Yargin, a sour-faced wanna-be alchemist, and Lou, Lamm's personal bodyguard, a skinny, but lean swordsman.
"This place harbors our new goldmine", Lamm gloats as he knocked on the dusty door. "The three of you will go in first", he grins as he beckons Edu, Lick and Amarice closer. Yargin draws out two strange harnesses that he fits around the boys' necks. A leather skin has been stretched across a curved neck-sized wooden bracelet, leaving the inside hollow to form some kind of container.
"Inside this old theatre are dream spiders, creepy crawlies that are a bit bigger than the ones you are used to. We need you to milk them of their venom. Just let them bite into the leather and their poison will seep into the space inside", Yargin explains.
"Are you mad?" Edu protests, only to be answered by Lamm's hard fist. "Bring their webs as well", Gaedran Lamm orders, as he shoves a blanket into Amarice's hands, "but be careful not to touch the silky threads, because they make you see strange things." He also hands the girl a lantern, before pushing the three guinea pigs into the main hall and quickly closing the door behind them. "Just give us a shout when you're ready", the old man mocks.
A few minutes pass before a burst of shouts erupts, followed by complete silence ... Then someone pounds on the door: "Let me out! Let me out!" It is Lick's voice. Yargin is in doubt: "What should I do, boss? What if there are spiders on the other side of the door?" Since Lamm does not make a decision immediately, Sjo and Quint urge Yargin to let Lick out. The boy stumbles through the doorway, covered in cobwebs. As he faces Lamm, Lick falls back against the wall, warding off the old man while deliriously screaming: "Leave me alone, you nasty spiderman! He raises his arms in protection, but Lamm still hits him hard against the head, knocking him out. Lou swipes away the webs with his blade, noticing that the harness had not been pierced.
"A good thing we brought some extra fodder", Lamm remarks as he binds Lick's harness around Balian's neck. "Remember," he warns the boys, "do not touch the webs, unless you want to end up like this poor bastard." Then he shoves Balian, Quint and Sjo into the theatre.
The three boys look around anxiously. The former seating area stretches out before them, reaching a raised stage at the far end of the room. Toppled over benches are scattered across the floor, thickly covered in spider webs. Realizing they are unarmed, the boys tear off some planks from a broken seat, to use as makeshift clubs. Balian, who is holding the light, notices Amarice's abandoned lantern on the floor in front of the podium. There is no immediate sign of the two missing lambs.
While they are pondering what to do, a spider jumps out of nowhere and attacks the kids. The monster is huge, easily as big as a large dog. Swinging their wooden sticks, the boys quickly take down the arachnid, but not before it bites Sjo in his neck and shoulder. Part of its venom seep into the harness, but the Shoanti gets a serious shot of the poison in his shoulder as well, leaving him hazy and disoriented. While Sjo takes a minute to get his bearings, his friends successfully milk the dead spider's fangs for more venom.
Next the boys make their way to the stage. Dangling from the rigging above the podium is another spider. This specimen is so preoccupied with the cocoon it is weaving that it doesn't even noticed the kids approaching until Balian hammers it in the head. After defeating the spider, the boys cut down the cocoon and free their friend Edu from the webs. Before they are able to carry him off the stage, two more spiders leap down. One of them puts its fangs in Quint's leg and with only a wooden stick in their hands, the boys suddenly feel overpowered. Then a trapdoor in the floor of the stage bursts open and Amarice hops out. She knocks down one of the monsters, giving the boys a chance to finish off the other one.
After they have milked the arachnids of their poison, the lambs consider what to tell Lamm. The old man will not be pleased to learn that his goldmine has already run dry. If they lie and tell him the spiders are still alive, he will surely send them back in a few days and they'll be in all kinds of trouble then. So they decide to go with a colored version of the truth. Balian, who isn't such a schemer as his colleagues, strolls about on the podium while his friends are plotting. A smaller cocoon draws his attention when it quivers with a light spasm. Balian examines it and carefully unfolds the webs, discovering a black labrador puppy inside. The baby dog is still breathing, although it is unconscious, just like Edu.
Next the kids rejoin Lamm and his men, confessing that they have killed four spiders, but have at least managed to extract their venom. Moreover, they have seen lots of baby spiders inside, who will probably be full-grown in a few months. Sjo and Quint bring such a compelling version of the truth that Lamm completely buys it. They also manage to draw away the adults' attention from Balian, who is hiding the small pup under his clothes. On their way home Quint explains to Lamm how a small animal, like a rat, with a harness around its neck, would make for better bait than a human. Some kind of stuffed animal puppet might even be preferable. Lamm says he will consider this idea, but he doubts that much venom will seep into the container if no one is able to steer the bait.
Back in the clog shop the boys and Amarice are given the rest of the day off to recover from their ordeal. Although the kids decide that it won't be too hard to hide the puppy from Lamm and his men - the outhouse is big enough and the adults never come in for long - they do fear one of their own, Jecko, who has a rep for being a snitch. The boys try to come up with a suitable solution and also start to wonder what happens to lambs when they have 'finished' their service to Lamm. Since none of their retired brethren have ever been seen or heard of again, they fear that riper teenagers are sold off as slaves to Cheliax, or even worse, killed. Amarice probably doesn't have much time left, since she's sixteen; it's her smallish stature that keeps her here for now.
When the other lambs return from their day's work, they convince the little traitor Jecko that 'Spyder', as they dubbed the labrador pup, is their secret and that it will be Jecko's job to see to it that everyone keeps it.
That evening Sjo, Balian and Quint have to assist Lamm in the old shop. He is expecting a guest and needs Sjo and Quint to convince him the stupid neck harness plan didn't work and had almost killed them. Balian's job will be simpler, he'll be fetching food and drink.
Half an hour later the guest arrives. It is a truly ugly man, very skinny, with a crooked nose and a receding hairline. His skin is pale and blotchy from various scars. He's wearing a long leather apron that bulges with surgical tools and he has a chemical smell about him.
Lamm starts complaining how he almost lost a couple of his lambs to the dream spiders, but the guest, whose name seems to be 'Rolth', tells Gaedran not to fret. He gladly collects the venom and the spider webs and hands Lamm a small bag in return. "I don't care how you get my stuff", the guest hisses, "we both know you love doing business with me if you can get Pesh for it. You'll let me know when you have more ..." Then he leaves.
So this is what the boys have risked their lives for, Pesh. It is no secret that Lamm deals a bit of drugs now and then, but the lambs certainly do not feel it is worth their lives. Sjo swears he will make the old man burn in hell.
10 Erastus 4703
It is still early in the morning when Hookshanks bursts through the door of the outhouse of the old clog shop, the abandoned building Lamm and his cronies have occupied as their home base. Hookshanks is a gnome, a mean little bugger, small even for gnome standards. With an evil grin across his face he singles out three of the lambs, Balian, Sjo and Quint. "Time to go hunting, you fools. Gobblegut's hungry. If you don't want to be the alligator's next meal, you'd better get him some juicy rats. Now move along!"
Hookshanks leads the three boys to the alley around the corner, using his rusted meat hook to pull open the grating covering the manhole to the sewers. "There are supposed to be at least ten rats for every Korvosan down there, so it shouldn't be a problem to secure a healthy catch. Four's a nice number, I'd say, so you bums don't even think about returning with less. Happy hunting, and don't let the sewer monsters bite."
Armed with a simple kitchen knife, the three youngsters descend into the damp darkness. A foul smell welcomes them. Clutching a fluttering torch, Balian lights the way. He spots a couple of rats further down the ledge, next to the filthy muck. Quietly the boys creep closer, only to suddenly jump the surprised rodents and take out two of them before the rest scurries off into a large drain. Sjo never gets in a blow, since the unfortunate soul slips before he can make it to the fight.
Across the sewage Quint notices a cul-de-sac that is blocked off with heavy metal bars. A couple of small drain pipes in the ceiling trickle down their smelly contents, while two more rats are chewing on some rotten left-overs against the back wall of the dead end. If only he could squeeze through the bars, Balian would easily add two more critters to his haul. After covering himself with filthy mud and slime, the boy manages to glide through the iron poles and using his torch as a two-handed club, he knocks out the rats. It's a dirty job, literally, but two and two make four.
Urged by Sjo the boys set off into another branch of the sewers and kill two more rats before returning to the surface. Today Hookshanks is satisfied with their work, so there will be no repercussions. The gnome does insist that the boys bear witness to the alligator's meal, however. In the flooded cellar of the clog shop, Gobblegut tears through the rats' cadavers in no time, reminding the young hunters that they would never want to switch places with the dead rodents.
The last thing Balian remembered of his father were the words "Run, son, run, and take your sister!". That was two and a half years ago, when he used to live in the North Point District.
Back in the day Balian's father ran a simple second hand store, trying to make enough money to feed his two children, his eleven year old son and a nine year old daughter, Alika. Still, life was hard for the widower, who sometimes fenced stolen goods from a local thug, Gaedran Lamm, to make ends meet. This welcome addition to his income would be his undoing, for when an unsuspecting customer recognized her stolen bracelet, she warned the Korvosan Guard. The next day the guards busted the shop to confront the shopkeeper and arrest him and his son, but the desperate man pushed his boy aside and urged him to take his sister and run. Meanwhile he tried to hold off the guards, knocking over a lantern in the struggle. The building caught fire and the poor shopkeeper perished in the flames.
A couple of days later, while Balian and his sister were wandering aimlessly through the streets of Korvosa, they came across a creepy, old man. He introduced himself as Gaedran Lamm and told them that a number of his goods had been in their father's shop when it had burnt down. Things that hadn't been paid for yet. Korvosan law and custom dictated that a man's debts were inherited by his heirs, so the children now owed a debt to Lamm. To settle the score Balian and Alika would have to work for Lamm for free until the man decided that the money was repaid. If the children refused, he threatened to call the guard and have the little fugitives arrested. Moreover, he wouldn't hesitate to harm any one of them of the other was too much trouble.
Ever since that time Balian has been one of Lamm's lambs, a gang of child slave laborers and pickpockets. His master never lets him forget that he "owes" him, and regularly gives him a firm beating, sometimes even without apparent cause. Since he fears for his sister's safety, the boy tries to avoid doing anything wrong.
Luckily, he's made some new friends among his fellow lambs, most notably Sjo, a tall boy of Shoanti blood, and Quint, a clear-eyed youngster of Chelish stock. Both boys have been with Lamm for as long as they can remember and have never known anything but hardship. All Sjo has to remind him of his origin is a weathered wooden board with his name in Shoanti runes, "Shaoban", which quickly wore down to "Sjo". Quint lacks even that, although he has a rather distinguishable birthmark on his shoulder that resembles a curled-up scorpion. Lamm refers to this spot as the "devil's touch", and fears the boy because of it. He doesn't beat the boy as often as the others and his punishments are rarely as severe.
So, after a break of half a year, we've picked up gaming again. Although we won't be playing as often as I would like to - once every two weeks instead of once a week - I'm very excited to finally start my Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign.
We're kicking off with a couple of 'prelude' sessions, five years prior to the actual campaign, in which the PCs are still kids. My players have all chosen humans, who are 13 years old now. Here are their adapted stats:
SHAOBAN, LN small human
QUINTILIAN, CG small human
BALIAN, CG small human
Erik wrote: "At long last the sun is shining down on Seattle, and I'm headed out of the office to do almost anything other than work. I hope your weekend is as fun as the one I'm planning to have!"
Hope you have a nice weekend, Erik. Even though roleplay is a hobby for us, I can certainly understand your need to have a change of scenery in your spare time. I know I do, even though I love my job. So have fun.
I've designed a paper for my campaign that comes out twice a month. The front side discusses general news (and possibly involves things the PCs have meddled in). I'm using the backside of my 'Korvosa Herald' for "The history of Korvosa". This way the PCs can find out more about the city's history without me having to tell them: the war with the Shoanti, the noble families, the royal family, even Thassilon.
I'd send you my copies, but since they are in my mother tongue (Dutch), they won't be of any good to you.
If you want to expand the first chapter, you'll find a lot of interesting ideas in this thread. It's a bit of a read, but definitely worth your time:
I agree with you on the Rakshasa deal.
How I'll handle it:
In my campaign the Arkonas will be tieflings, to give them that extra 'super' human edge, but without turning them into something that seems too far-fetched for me. They will also be given a much bigger role in my AP. They will actually be the movers and shakers behind the riots in the streets by sending out agents who stir up trouble and discontent.
Glorio's goal is to destabilize Ileosa's early rule so he can step in and claim the throne. Glorio will also try to enlist the PCs' help in his plans and he will reappear later in the AP to continue his resistance against the queen, with of without the help of the PCs. I'll even add an seventh chapter to the AP in which Glorio will try to be elected king. One of the PCs will turn out to be Eodred's bastard son and will oppose him in a contest of political intrigue.
One small note: Glorio might get killed in the third installment of the AP. Even if he does, he can still reappear later on. He has a massive fortune and the aid of the Cerulean Society behind him, who will just have him resurrected.
I'm very pleased to see that you've picked up on some of my ideas. I'll give you my take on your questions:
1) I'd have Lamm buy the children from the orphanage. You might even make it into one of the orphanages that King Eodred II sponsored, naming it Domina's Embrace, in memory of his beloved mother, Queen Domina. Although Eodred doesn't realize it, his good deed has been corrupted by the vain and money-grubbing woman who runs the place. This can give the PCs an additional sidequest later in the AP, to eradicate the corruption in the orphanages (possible even running an orphanage themselves, or at least placing the right people in charge). This quest can also be used to introduce the PCs to the 'Hanging Judge', Zenobia Zenderholm, who devotes some of her precious time to the city's orphans.
2) I definitely liked the Gold Goblin from Second Darkness, and since it fits perfectly in an urban setting, placing it in Korvosa is actually a nice idea. I'm not sure if having the casino belong to Lamm is the best option, though. Maybe Lamm has built up a substantial debt at the casino, and now the owner turns to Lamm's killers to pay the bill. If the PCs play their cards right (pun not intended) they might end up owning the casino, tying them more firmly to the city.
If you place the prelude some five years prior to the actual AP (giving you the chance to integrate Ileosa's arrival and the royal wedding into the scenario), the human and kitsune would be about 13, the dwarf could be around 40 and the tiefling 70. The dwarf is an adolescent on the verge of adulthood, but Lamm uses his little sister to enforce his will on the young dwarf. The tiefling could be a young adult, who was recently accepted in the ranks of Lamm's men, but who is constantly picked upon by his 'peers' and who doesn't like the way Lamm treats his Lambs. He could be instrumental in getting the PCs out.
I hope these suggestions inspire you. Best of luck with your campaign.
I'm planning on introducing a modified version of Academy of Secrets into this AP, in which the PCs infiltrate the Acadamae to find the contract devil's version of Ileosa's contract.
Since this infiltration has nothing to do with the Breaching festival and is supposed to be covert, the PCs will have to bypass all the imps who live on the Acadamae grounds and who serve as a kind of permanent alarm system. In order to do that, the PCs enlist the aid of the pseudodragons, who draw out the imps so the PCs can enter the campus unnoticed.
I, for one, do not understand this focus on PVP. I'm a big fan of Paizo and Golarion, which makes me interested in this computer game, purely from a PVE point of view. But if there will be such a focus on PVP, with a system that even rewards PVP, I will never buy this game. I sometimes play a computer game to relax and have some fun. Being ganked does NOT constitute as fun, EVER.
James Sutter wrote:
While you're welcome to keep posting your opinions and ideas--feedback is always useful! (...) So thanks again for all the feedback, and stay tuned!
This is exactly why we all love Paizo. People have suggestions, ideas and you guys listen to us! Absolutely great! Thanks.
A nice discussion. I'll add my thoughts on the topic.
Do I like the fiction? I haven't read it all, but I liked what I read. So I'm not sad to see the fiction in there.
Do I think the fiction should stay? Though I wouldn't mind it staying, I have to agree that Paizo has developed better platforms for its fiction, so the precious space in the AP volumes could be spent on more relevant material.
What would I like to see instead of the fiction as it is now?
More support articles:
Fiction that is tied in more closely to the AP:
I like the way you're trying to make this campaign your own. I'll give some feedback on your ideas, also under the spoiler sign.
Spoilers on CotCT and CoT plots:
Skipping the Dead Warrens shouldn't be a problem if you're using the Shoanti hook on Eel's End, although the Chelish ambassador is a nice hook too.
The idea of pitting Glorio Arkona against the queen, though not openly but through scheming and sneaking, is one that appeals to me too. In my campaign, the Arkona's will be behind the riots in the city that follow the death of King Eodred. A few well-spoken orators (bards) try to influence the commoners' opinion on the new queen and her inexperience and inability to rule. Arkona's objective is to seize the throne for himself.
Some parts of the CoT AP might fit nicely into your campaign. The second installment has received very good feedback, so using that is definitely a good idea. Here's my take on how you could use this.
The Ornelos family and its Acadamae are trying to help the queen by experimenting on 'blood clones' to create a clone army of Gray Maidens. Using the blood of innocent girls, mixed with devil blood, powerful Acadamae wizards (transmuters) want to create an equivalent of the simulacrum spell that allows them to instill the combat skills of a "model" into a large number of clones.
At this stage, the experiments are still far from perfected. The PCs happen upon an escaped 'early model' clone, who has no recollection of who she is. When the meet her, she is naked, confused and disoriented, somewhere in the streets close to the Acadamae. The PCs care for her and puzzle out that she came from the Ornelos estate. After a few days she mysteriously explodes into a pile of blood. Examining the blood reveals traces of strong transmutation magic, so strong that only the most powerful transmuter of the Acadamae could handle it.
The PCs are now interested in finding out more about the Ornelos estate and when they do some research, they learn that one of Toff Ornelos' grandsons, Akmelek Ornelos, is an avid admirer and supporter of the morbid plays that are featured in Exemplary Execrables, the theater in Old Korvosa that is owned by Pilts Swastel. He is aiding in the newest play, either as an actor, producer or illusionist who helps with the plays special effects. He is also planning a big celebration at the Ornelos Estate after the play's premiere.
Here you can insert your adaptation of The Sixfold Trial, both the first part and the second. Use Pilts Swastel as the director instead of Robahl Nonon. You can even introduce Salvator Scream as the artist who paints the background settings, but he seems to have lost his inspiration and doesn't do a great job at it.
In the second part the PCs get invited to the party and sneak into the Asmodean Knot, where the early experiments on blood clones were performed. The transmuter is (conveniently) absent, but there is another infiltrator, an agent of the Arkona's (a rogue from the Cerulean society). Having Mavrokeras be there as the imprisoned devil is actually an excellent idea. He has been aiding the transmuter with his experiments and might even reveal some information to the PCs. Maybe he even tries to trick the PCs into setting him free ... If you want to use some Red Mantis assassins, you could have them be there as guards.
As for Toff Ornelos being absent at the party - the nobleman is notoriously asocial, so he tries to avoid public events at all cost. Since the Acadamae has been closed down because of the riots, Toff sees it as his 'duty' (or as a convenient excuse) the be present at the Acadamae.
This scenario allows you to foreshadow a lot of NPCs: House Ornelos and all the nobles who are invited to their party (although I would focus on the sons and daughters of the noble families, rather than the heads of the families), Pilts Swastel, Salvator Scream and of course Glorio Arkona himself, who will most definitely be present at the opening of the Sixfold Trial play. (I don't immediately see a hook to include Rolth the necromancer, although you could have him be the one who sold Gaekhen's body to Devargo Barvasi in the Eel's End encounter.)
You would also be using the 'blood clone' hook, which has been suggested in several threads on these boards. The idea is to have blood clones next to the 'regular' Gray Maidens. This allows you to have more powerful Gray Maiden adversaries in the final adventure without creating a suspension of disbelief (What do you mean, these common girls were recruited yesterday and they are level 6 fighters today??? Now you can have them be level 8 fighter, or even higher, and provide an excellent excuse for them to be so powerful: they are clones!). This also gives you the opportunity to add in another side trek in the final stages of your campaign, as the PCs will come across these blood clone Gray Maidens in combat (when they are killed, they also disintegrate into a pile of blood) and will want to stop the blood clone production (which I will be setting in the catacombs of the temple of Asmodeus in my campaign).
I'll be planting some rumors that the missing seneschal, Neolandus Kalepopolis, is Blackjack (that's what Trinia Sabor suspects). His background as a trained officer in the Sable Company fits the bill and since he's gone into hiding, he certainly has the motives to fight the powers that be.
A nice way to start Curse of the Crimson Throne is a prelude adventure when the PCs are still youngsters in Lamm's service. I've written out a summary of my version in this thread:
I'll have my PCs infiltrate the Great Tower to free the captured hippogriphs with Kalepopolis and escape the city through the air as a short sidetrek.
There is also an option to take some extra time in Kaer Maga. There is a source book on the place, two society scenarios take place there (The Shadow Gambit and The Twofold Demise) and - if you're not planning on playing through The Shattered Star AP - you might have a look at its third installment (The Asylum Stone).
Other people already mentioned Seven Swords of Sin (module). The Godsmouth Heresy takes place there as well, but its a level 1 adventure.
If you want to know who the man in your avatar picture is, you should go with Curse of the Crimson Throne. This AP is definitely my favorite and I'll start DM'ing it for my group in just a few weeks.
It does lend itself for lots of roleplaying, certainly if you're willing to put in an extra effort to create more roleplaying opportunities. It also gets more positive feedback on these boards than council of Thieves, although that AP also has its highlights (I'll even be stealing some of it to insert into my CotCT AP).
The two most heard points of critique on Curse of the Crimson Throne are the railroad quests in the fourth installment 'A history of Ashes' and the large dungeon crawl in the fifth installment 'Skeletons of Scarwall'. Both are excellent adventures, but they might not suit the playing style of your group. Again, if you're willing to put up the time and effort, you can change them if they are not to your liking.
I don't see this as a problem either, given her background story, the DM can come up with a hook to include the character in the story. The only disadvantage to the player might be that his/her character is not included in the first session. But even that can be arranged by the DM. I would hand the player an NPC for the session, someone who will reappear in future sessions, so there can already be some interaction between the PCs and this NPC.
Here's a summary of how I'll be playing chapter five.
I'm also skipping Scarwall completely to refocus on the city and the resistance against Ileosa.
When the PCs gain the trust of the Shoanti, they don't point them to Scarwall to find an ancient sword, but they tell them to locate the bones of the Shoanti cleric who aided Mandraivus in defeating Kazavon and who took the dragon's teeth to the great mastaba. The PCs are given a flame that needs to be breathed into those bones to revive them, so they can ask the cleric for help. The ghost of Zellara should be able to help them find the cleric's tomb.
When the PCs arrive in Korvosa, they find the place as described in chapter 6 of the AP, with the queen in complete control, except for a small group of rebels. When the PCs contact Zellara's ghost, something goes wrong and the Varisian fortuneteller's essence gets sucked into the Harrow deck.
The PCs then proceed to find the resistance through a confrontation with the false Blackjack (as in the beginning of chapter 6,though I'm using a devil instead of an efreet for the false Blackjack to enforce the idea of Ileosa's infernal contract) and the real Blackjack, who is also a rebel.
The rebels hide out in the Gray District. Their leader is Illrem Bromathan, lord Valdur Bromathan's brother and a former officer in the Sable Company. Illrem has a personal request for the PCs: he asks them to free his nephew (Valdur V) and his sister-in-law, who have been placed under house arrest in their manor. While fighting some of their Gray Maiden guards, the PCs discover that some of the queen's guard aren't real women, but rather blood clones, who convert to pools of blood upon being slain.
Next Illrem asks the PCs to also free the Leroung family from house arrest. Still, the attempt goes awry when a devil assassinates lady Eliasia Leroung during the rescue, making it hard for the PCs to regain the Leroung family's trust (they need the Leroungs and their extensive library to help them find more information on where the Shoanti cleric might be buried).
The PCs learn that the production of blood clones for the Gray Maidens takes place in the temple of Asmodeus. They storm the temple and put an end to the malicious production of the clone army (which requires the blood of real girls and devil).
The second in command at the temple of Asmodeus betrays highpriest Ornher Reebs in the hopes of becoming the new leader of the Asmodeus church in Korvosa. If the PCs agree to let her live and give her permission to keep the temple of Asmodeus open, she offers them information in return.
She tells them that the queen has entered into an infernal pact with a contract devil in the Acadamae. This has made the queen even more powerful, so if the PCs want a fighting chance against Ileosa, they'll need to break the contract first. If the PCs want to trace the contract devil, they should go to the place where Ileosa signed it, the Acadamae. She also gives the PCs information on contract devils and on how to break the contract.
The PCs gather information and learn that the Acadamae's best kept secrets are hidden in the Hall of Wards. So in order to find these secrets, they will have to gain entry to that building, just as the competitors in the Breaching Festival (conversion of the module 'Academy of Secrets').
The PCs contact the thieves' guild (through Glorio Arkona) to learn more about the breaching festival and the 'theoretical' way to gain entry to the Hall of Wards. Armed with this information the PCs will be ready to play the adventure. They also enlist the aid of the pdseudodragon population of Korvosa to distract the dozens of imps who guard the Acadamae.
Inside the Hall of Wards the PCs encounter the contract devil Chyvvom who holds his version of the infernal contract with queen Ileosa. If the PCs manage to find Ileosa's version and destroy both, they will weaken her considerably, ending her alliance with 13 powerful devil servants and her bond with one particularly powerful devil whose powers are partly transferred to the queen.
A next (optional) mission for the PCs is to convince the temple of Abadar to abandon their support for the queen and join the rebels.
Ileosa decides to kill off the captured rebels in the arena, for all of Korvosa to see (she actually hopes to draw out the remaining rebels in doing so). Most of the prisoners are reportedly being held at the Longacre building until the arena games, so the PCs infiltrate the place (possibly with the help of judge Zenobia Zenderholm), where they confront more of Ileosa's devil allies and even a dragon before freeing a number of their rebel allies.
Other captured rebel allies have already been transported to the catacombs of the Kendall arena, so the PCs need to free them as well, either before or during the games. When the PCs are in the arena, they receive a sign from Zellara (who is still captured by the Harrow deck), triggered by the fact that the Shoanti cleric's tomb is near. The fortuneteller begs the PCs to help her, before going quiet again.
When the PCs return to the real world, Zellara guides them to the caves below the arena, where centuries of collapses and landslides have drawn the Shoanti cleric's tomb into the sinkhole below the Kendall arena.
When the PCs storm castle Korvosa, as in chapter 6 of the AP, they should try to find Ileosa's version of the infernal contract first, before confronting the queen herself. If they do so, they will be facing a less powerful version of the queen. In my campaign the real Ileosa will be in the castle. I'll be skipping the Sunken Queen chapter.
I'll be adding an encounter with 'the Ironworks' to the chapter you're currently playing.
This is information on the Ironworks, an iron factory in Old Korvosa:
"One of the largest buildings in Old Korvosa, and indeed the city, the Ironworks takes in pig iron from Janderhoff and recycled slag bought for almost nothing and, in turn, spits out wrought iron works in a wide range of quality. More a factory and less a smithy, the Ironworks focuses on simple and functional wrought-iron goods, emphasizing quantity over quality. This allows the city’s few blacksmiths to remain in business, as they can focus on high-quality goods or customized jobs."
(I also found this information on the net, which looks like homebrew, but I used it anyway (also, remember that Korvosa bans guilds):
I made this into the following encounter:
Cressida Kroft summons the PCs and tells them about the Ironworks in Old Korvosa. The workers in the iron factory have been fighting Korvosa's law against guilds for many years. The Ironsoots, as they call themselves, are led by master smith Baris Trenchlow, who trained in Magnimar and adopted Magnimar's more liberal ideas on economy and solidarity.
The Ironsoots are using the current instability in the city to enforce their claims. They've locked down the factory and are protesting in the streets, demanding Korvosa's ban on guilds be lifted. Their protest contributes to the general atmosphere of chaos in the city, so Croft wants to end their actions by any means possible.
She doesn't think of Trenchlow as an evil man, though, so she would be happiest to have him arrested and not killed, but she fears a bloodbath if she sends her own troops. The city also needs the services of the ironworks, so coming to a "peaceful" solution would definitely be preferable. She asks the party to use their skills and tricks to sneak into the ironworks and arrest the master smith.
The iron factory processes iron ore from Janderhoff and recycles slag. Most of the goods they produce are of a simple quality, things like nails, pins, horseshoes, crowbars, iron bands for barrels and wheels, hinges and all kinds of iron parts for shipbuilding or repair.
The furnaces never stop. The workers work around the clock in three shifts of 8 hours each. At any moment some 20 laborers are at work in the workshops and 10 more in the loading and storage areas or the coal cellar. This means that about 100 people are employed at the Ironworks.
Those laborers are on strike right now. They've barricaded the entrances to the building and occupy the Ironworks to prevent iron bars from being taken to the other smithies in town (all private smiths). During the day about 75 Ironsoots are present, manning the barricades. At night their numbers dwindle to about 30, half of whom are asleep while the others stand guard. They have all blackened their faces with soot.
Baris Trenchlow, the leader of the strike is also in the building. Although it isn't his goal to have the city sink away in chaos, he does use the current disturbances to empower his demands to legalize guilds. He can usually be found in his office, where he writes letters to potential supporters of his claim or other influential people, such as other smiths, noble families, merchants and the government. At the moment he's working on a letter to Garrick Tann, the city's magistrate of commerce, trying to convince him of his more liberal ideals.
The PCs can use several tactics to get a hold of Trenchlow:
If the PCs interact with the master smith, they quickly understand he is a reasonable man who simply opposes Korvosa's obsolete laws. The city's charters forbid merchants or craftsmen from forming guilds so Korvosa can keep a tight hand on labor and prices. This is why most artisans are independent workers who operate as masters with just one or a handful of apprentices to help them.
Trenchlow is especially outraged that Korvosa allows one guild to exist: the thieves' guild, the Cerulean Society, just because they pay 'vice taxes'. Honest guilds on the other hand are forbidden. Allowing guilds would certainly benefit the artisans and all those who work hard. And if they prosper, so will the city (and tax income). So it is time to put aside the old laws and introduce modern rules, which would serve all Korvosans. The master smith is convinced that many citizens support his ideals, but they are too afraid to say so, because punishment for unionizing is very hard: branding and imprisonment (5-10 years), with no appeal.
I'm using the glassworks map from Burnt Offerings for the Ironworks. Here are my stats for the Ironsoots (my PCs will be level 2):
Baris Trenchlow CR 3
Ironsoot striker, com2
Ironsoot striker, exp2
I guess he'll be using something like the maps in this post:
By the way, Kaushal Avan Spellfire , I really admire the work you've put into this system. I'd certainly be interested in hearing how it plays out. I'm not sure if it is something that would fit my group's style, but you've done a great job.
I feel this system would have the greatest added value when you switch it with real roleplay encounters: really play out the diplomatic encounters and the fights to conquer the landmarks. Is this the way you've set it up?
So the PC was one of Lamm's lambs when he was younger. He was finally rescued from the clutches of the creepy old man by a visitor from Magnimar. This visitor was a worshipper of Ragathiel who couldn't disregard the injustice he witnessed and intervened when Lamm was abusing the kid.
He took the kid with him to Magnimar and taught him the ways of the Lord of Chivalry, chastity, duty and vengeance. When the boy reached adulthood, he decided to return to Korvosa to right the wrong that was inflicted upon him when he was a child. after all, vengeance should be his ...
Apart from her levels Ileosa has two major power sources: her devil contract and the crown. I think it should be a player option to disable both sources before or while confronting Ileosa.
- In my campaign, I'll be skipping adventure five (Scarwall) because my group doesn't like big dungeon crawls. Instead I'll have the PCs return to Korvosa to deal with a number of other quests. One of those is breaking the infernal contracts.
- Likewise the PCs should be able to remove Ileosa's crown during the fight with her. It shouldn't be easy, but grappling her and tearing the crown off her head could fit perfectly within the Pathfinder rules, so as a DM I would allow it.
As far as redeeming Ileosa, I would make that very hard. Ileosa was manipulative, false and evil to begin with, but her malicious character needed the fangs to gain the strength and self-confidence to seize power in Korvosa. If the PCs were to seperate her from the crown, I would play her like a frustrated 'gollum', who craves to be reunited with the evil artifact. She might be 'tamed', but the evil will always slumber. There's no telling when it would resurface.
Not using the ambassadeur is okay. It has no repercussions on the rest of the story, but you might need to replace it with another encounter or mini-adventure to keep your PCs on track (XP).
If you like the character of Devargo Barvasi and the setting of Eel's End, you can still do something with it in the third installment of the adventure, when the PCs get stuck on Old Korvosa.
That looks very interesting. I'd love to see it, if you can get it to us somehow.
This is a valid question, one I wondered about as well. So I'm planning on modifying that for my campaign:
- The creation of the Gray Maidens will date back to five years prior to the campaign. I'll be playing a prelude adventure in which the PCs are youngsters in Lamm's Lambs, set against the background of Ileosa's arrival in the city. The Korvosan Watch will offer the new queen a personal security force of ten "Gray Maidens" as a wedding gift. One of them is Sabina Merrin.
- After the death of her husband Ileosa will boost the number of Gray Maidens by enlisting over 50 female Korvosan Guards. One of them will actually be a former 'fellow lamb', and the PCs will even recommend her to the queen, so she can join the Maidens.
- Ileosa will also hire about 150 female warriors from Cheliax, so by the end of the first adventure, there will be 200+ Gray Maidens.
- At the start of the fourth adventure, Ileosa will commission all female Korvosans between the ages of 16 and 21 to join the Gray Maidens. These girls will be bled to death and their blood will be used to create bloodclones. This is a complicated procedure in which devil and human blood are mixed to create 'bloodclone' simulacri of the dead girls. These clones are infused with the fighting capacities of a 'model', the captured field marshal Cressida Kroft. This process was engineered by the transmutation specialist from the Acadamae (with devilish assistance) and takes place in the temple of Asmodeus. By the time the PCs return to the city this will boost Maiden ranks by at least 300. The advantage of these Gray Maiden bloodclones is that they are actually higher level fighters, which will give the PCs a bigger challenge when confronting them.
These Gray Maidens will be stationed at different posts, including the Castle, the Longacre building and Citadel Volshyenek.
I hope this helps.
Here are the stats that I made for my game:
CRESSIDA KROFT, LN female Human aristocrat 1 / fighter 9 CR 8
James Jacobs wrote:
My group and me have a very slow playing style, so it takes us years to complete a campaign.
I'm just happy that Paizo keeps producing APs, even if they appeal less to me personally. As long as enough customers like them to buy them, then the future of the line is assured. I don't doubt that once in a while there will be an adventure path that is right up my alley. That's all I need.
So I'm all in favor of Paizo's choice to do different things in different APs. Sure, they can't please all of the people all of the time, but if the line persists those who like it a bit less now might be overjoyed with the next campaign.
This makes them end up sticking their head in a room, glancing, and then moving on if there is nothing obvious there. They then often forget to go back, and have missed some important treasure or plot-related information that I end up having to feed them through other means just to advance the plot. It also makes it difficult to create the right atmosphere, when the cleric is tapping his foot saying, "Hurry up, Rogue-- the fighter only has three minutes left of bull's strength!
Missed loot is probably the thing that hurts most. When the PCs are relaxing in the inn after they have rushed through a crypt in the graveyard, have a very happy gravedigger walk in and buy the whole bar a round. He just found some magical ring in a crypt that was obviously cleared out by adventurers - only they left behind a magical ring that the gravedigger found and sold to a merchant. Now he wants to celebrate his new found fortune.
Rolf got away in my campaign. He (and his crazy girlfriend) will be showing up again to cause more misery later.
You've got to love those recurring villains!
I'm also going to give Rolth a 'girlfriend', only she'll be one of the PCs' sister, who was taken from Lamm's Lambs in the prequel sessions.