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Story Archer's page

759 posts. Alias of Wiggz.


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We had a different experience that might be of use, or maybe not.

Scourge was killed by members of our group in retaliation for his rape of one of the PC's before the Man's Promise was ever taken, so he wasn't part of the final battle. Instead it was Plugg and nine level 2 warriors as well as Patch Patchsalt who took Scourge's place when he disappeared overboard. There were six Rahadoumi sailors onboard as well, but they took a neutral stance in the battle, unwilling to take sides.

The party was made up of four characters, all 3rd level, along with Rosey Cuswell and Sandara Quinn. The group chose to mutiny before they ran afoul of Bonewrack Isle, suspecting that Plugg had nefarious intentions towards them and they needed to act first. Rosey and Sandara were being kept with the officers while the PC's were sleeping belowdecks with the Rahadoumi. The group had also befriended Hartshorn who was kept chained to the foremast.

The Rogue and the Bard snuck on deck and took out one sailor and Patch without the alarm being raised (Charm Person by the Bard on Patch and then his being bull-rushed overboard by the Barbarian), and then they and the Master Summoner went to the officer's quarters - the first two threw open the door as the Summoner began spamming MSII's, filling the cabin with more than a dozen dire rats. Rosie and Sandara made it out and were armed by the PC's - Rosey and the Rogue held the door with the aid of the Master Summoner and the flanking Dire Rats while Sandara joined the Barbarian who was calling out Plugg from the captain's quarters in a long-awaited showdown.

Sandara and the Barbarian battled Plugg while the Bard tried to stay between the two groups, buffing with Inspire Courage. The fight with Plugg was a tough one until he got within reach of Hartshorn and the big man attacked him. He was ineffective and Plugg killed him for it, but the distraction was enough to allow the PC's to gain the upper hand and finish him. Only three of Plugg's men survived long enough to surrender.

The group had the aid of two NPC's (and a third when it mattered) and were a level higher than they were originally intended to be against 9 moderate opponents and 2 whom were very tough. However, they also had no magical equipment to speak of. They had a bit of luck otherwise things could have gone south quickly, but they also planned very well. Still by the end two were near death even after they had exhausted all of their healing.

The storm hit them the following night, and shorthanded as they were they were run aground on the rocks of Bonewrack Isle with Sandara and one of the men formerly under Plugg taken.

I have my own plans for Shalelu, but I thought I'd share what happened in another group I'm familiar with...

Bruthauzmus escaped Thistletop and later, unbeknownst to the PC's, captured Shalelu. When they found out they set out to rescue her, braving the lair of a group of 'renegade' Bugbears to do so. When they found her, she was bound to a tree in the center of the settlement and had been more more than two weeks... Brauthazmus had been using her for target practice, and had the bugbear's shaman heal her periodically - but he left the arrows in when they did. She had barely been fed, enough to keep her alive... it was pretty horrific and made him a truly wicked and despicable villain. It also made her incredibly sympathetic and respected by the group when they finally freed her.

When they hit the bottom level of Thistletop, everyone in the party will be 4th level, and will include:

Human 3rd level Paladin of Sarenrae / 1st level Oracle (Ancestor)
Human 4th level Oracle (Black Blood/Spellscar)

She draws spells from the Sorcerer list instead of the Oracle list.
Half-Elven 4th level Spirit Summoner
Eidolon and he both build as Falchion-wielding warriors who fight side-by-side.

In addition, the party will include Shalelu rebuilt as a switch-hitting 4th level standard Ranger and possibly Orik as a 4th level standard Fighter, depending on how they deal with him.

Now barring unforseen events, I expect the PC's to first fight a group battle with a prepared Tsuto, Lyrie and Brauthazmus at the bottom of the stairwell leading to that level while Nualia looks on from down the corridor on the other side of the trap, observing the player's tactics. At what she considers an opportune moment she will send her Yeth Hound (who flies, remember, so it won't trigger the trap) to assist in the fight.

If the group defeats the bad guys decisively, Nualia will meet them in the corridor (especially if the trap splits the group up). If brought below half her hit points she has a strategy in place: she will flee down to where the Shadows lurk and cast Obscuring Mist, hoping to draw the Shadows out and the party in. She'll be subject to the shadows attacks as well but she has a Restoration spell saved for that purpose. Her plan will be to emerge once the PC's enter and attack any who try to escape the mists, possibly augmenting the Shadows battle with the PC's using channeled negative energy. As a last resort she casts Sanctuary and flees.

That's the plan, anyway. the thing is, I rebuilt her as a solid 6th level Warpriest (20 point buy, Strength and Evil Blessings) and, statted out, she looks pretty tough. With her buffs up, she looks something like this:

AC 19 (22 w/Shield of Faith)
HP 45 (57 with Sihedron Medallion's False Life)
Fort +8
Ref +5
Will +10

w/Divine Favor, Bull’s Strength, Strength Surge, Power Attack:
+13 w/Flail for 1d8+15
+12 w/Claw for 1d6+7

Between her tactics (which I determined long before) and her statistics, do you think that's too deadly of a fight? I prefer to play my bosses smart and I want the fight to be memorable, but I abhor TPK's. What do you think?

OberonViking wrote:

One player was looking to run it himself, but now I am offering to do so.

Have you got something better for me?

Some things I did differently in Burnt Offerings:

Tsuto was obsessed/infatuated with/in love with his half-sister Ameiko - he was terrified and in awe of Nualia. His return to Sandpoint was against Nualia's orders in the hopes of rescuing the one person he thinks has ever cared about him, and to get personal revenge on Lonjiku.

At Nualia's instruction, Tsuto left a long braid of her silver hair in the Crypt in place of Father Tobyn's remains as a mocking warning to Zantus and the rest of the town.

During the raid I added an encounter at Daverin Hosk's stables with a bunch of goblins trying to burn it down. I also added a mini-encounter with two goblins that had Shayliss cornered in an alley to introduce both her and her hero-worship.

I skipped the Goblin in the Closet encounter but added additional skeletons in the Crypt.

I redrew the Catacomb map, ditched the Vargoille and added an encounter with Brown Mold in an old storeroom.

I rebuilt Elyrium as a 3rd level Cleric of Lamashtu (Trickery and Chaos domains) with a spell focus on Murderous Command and Summon Monsters.

I rebuilt Koruvus as a 2nd level Invulnerable Rager Barbarian.

I rebuilt Nualia as a 6th level Warpriest.

Our campaign Wiki is located here - I'm doing something a bit different with the overall campaign but the wiki gets updated regularly. Hope something there helps.

wally.west wrote:
I am sure that there have been hundreds of posts like this, but I just was so happy to be playing with more than two players that I just had to share what had occurred so far. Let me know what you think and I am more than happy to have some feedback or insight because this will be my first real campaign I have ran in well over ten years.

I'm running this for the second time and we just started the campaign last month. We're trying to play 3/month but during the holidays (pretty much the rest of the year) that'll probably be closer to 2/month.

I have a wiki up for my group where I detail everyone they've encountered and everything they've done; it gets updated after every session. Entries for people, places and things might change from session to session as they discover new things or find out old presumptions were incorrect. In it I detail what's happened to date (Chronicle), include any lengthy exposition (Exposition) and even the changes that I as a GM make to the campaign (under GM, the PC's know to stay out of it). I suspect there might be a lot of useful material there for you moving forward.

One important point however - this campaign is actually going to be 10 AP volumes. I'm going to be telling the Shattered Star story primarily using Rise of the Runelords (RotRL #1-6, SS #1, #5 & #6 and CotCT #2), so after we finish up with the Skinsaw Murders it'll start to deviate from what you're doing a bit. If you're interested in running such a campaign (I really think its going to be amazing the way I have it set up), obviously you can contact me at any time. In the meantime, I hope this serves as a useful resource to you...

Our Campaign Wiki

Askren wrote:

I did it through roleplay.

My players loved walking around Sandpoint and interacting with people and learning new things, and it was sometimes as simple as a dropped hint in conversation or a snarky remark from a drunk, a subtle mention of how many railings and posts in Sandpoint are carved with elaborate bird sculptures, etc.

And you can even go as far as to engage them directly. My players (well, one of them) went to the Red Dog Smithy to get a sword reshaped, and after expressing his disdain for adventurers, Das Korvut refused to serve him unless the PC could bring back the remains of his son, who disappeared to the Chopper. This led the PCs to talk to everyone, especially the Sheriff, who dumped a ton of backstory and exposition about the town, and gave them a cool thing to explore.

The important part is not to force it. Make it interesting, work with what your players want to do and slip bits of information in to pique their interest. Don't dump expository dialogue for no reason, and ESPECIALLY don't hand it to them before the game and say "Here's the history of the town now pretend you all know and care about this." The idea is to give them a reason to WANT to learn more. And if their character has ties to the town already, then have that player be the one to tell the party, so their character has some use as a source of local information.

Sandpoint is a very small town. It's unlikely that anyone who lives there doesn't know pretty much every rumor there is. And everything about the Late Unpleasantness is pretty well known to all the locals, considering it's hard for a town the size of a football field to be unaware of 25 murders.

This is all good advice - I want to expound on one point: there is a LOT of story that needs to be told and even more than doesn't... meaning that when offering exposition to your players, don't make it a blinking sign pointing towards whatever's next. Pepper in other details and little red herrings based on all the other background information you have at hand. After the crypts, my PC's got all the backstory on the Chopper with casual mentions of the Kaijitsu family troubles and the church burning down... when in truth it was Lonjiku's murder of his wife and Nualia starting the fire that were by far the most important bits of information. They actually went and explored Chopper's Isle a bit, finding nothing but the remains of Stoot's shack, but later when Father Zantus told them the full story of Nualia and when Bethana presented them with Tsuto's letter, it didn't just come out of nowhere... those events had become real to the PC's as part of the town's history and all of a sudden they felt like they were part of the story rather than simply being told what to do next by the GM.

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ceremony wrote:
There's a TON of backstory (the late unpleasantness, Nualia's history, etc) that really help to shape the adventure, but if the players dont really ask around or do anything to discover this, how would they ever know about it? I think a lot of the backstory of the town is great --- one of my players backstory is they are FROM sandpoint, but how much would they know...??

In the game I'm currently running - and we've just handled this part - Sheriff Hemlock tells them the story of the late unpleasantness (light on Nualia details) on the walk back from the crypts as part of his thanks for their aid in protecting the town when the last thing it needed was more troubles.

At the crypt, Zantus discovered a silver braid left behind by Tsuto at Nualia's request, a sort of mocking warning for the priest. He concealed the discovery from the PC's and asked them to leave... later he summoned the group to the cathedral where he apologized, told them of Nualia's story and produced the braid.

We have a wiki for our campaign and a lot of those backstory stories are included under the heading 'exposition' if you're interested. I'm still steadily adding and updating things as I get time and the party encounters new people or places, but here's a link to Sheriff Hemlock's story:

The Late Unpleasantness

The Rot Grub wrote:
Story Archer, I wouldn't mind listening in on that discussion! I would follow a thread in which you talked about expanding RotRL.

I started one here, but it kind of got thread-jacked a little, and it was just a breakdown of what I am trying to do anyway. There have already been some modifications based on recommendations from veteran players and GM's with experience from those AP's.

The truth is, I'll be telling the Shattered Star story but I'll be using the excellent Rise of the Runelords to do it, plus a few additions like Seven Days to the Grave from Curse of the Crimson Throne. I'm actually amazed at how well its all come together - I think its a marked improvement over either AP alone, story-wise. The plan is to get my PC's to level 20 by the time all is said and done.

I have chosen to build a grander campaign than that of just Rise of the Runelords, and I'm doing it by adding four books from other AP's that are thematically perfect fits. I've been working on the re-writes for more than half a year, and its becoming a very finished product. I'm not going to lie, its incredibly exciting and we started our gaming sessions just this past month.

If you're interested at all, I would be happy to discuss it with you in as much detail as you'd like, as well as to make recommendations on things to include or exclude that I've already considered at length. We can talk here or you can contact me privately - either way I'd love to help!

TriangularRoom wrote:
Story Archer - your combination of RotRL and and Shattered Star sounds awesome :)

Oh its going to be fantastic. Been working on it for years. I started a thread on it here, but it kind of got thread-jacked.

Its still on pace to unfold as I have written in the original thread, though thanks to some help on the CotCT forums, I'll be flipping Seven Days to the Grave and Curse of the Lady's Light.

If you have any insight or want to talk about it, I'd love nothing more...

I'm GM'ing a 10 volume AP campaign where I'm telling the Shattered Star story but primarily using Rise of the Runelords to do it. Using all six books of RotRL as well as Curse of the Crimson Throne #2 and Shatted Star #2, #5 and #6. There are substantial rewrites but basically shards are appearing in the possession of appropriate villains as the Sihedron seeks to be reforged. So far its going magnificently.

Alright, so I'm revisiting this after a few weeks of consideration.

I'm still planning on having Seven Days to the Grave take place after the Skinsaw Murders and the Curse of the Lady's Light, linking them through Ironbriar's journals, Vorel's Phage and a redeemed Oriana who will serve as the group's 'in' into the city. The plot will be as follows:

Xanesha, having escaped the PC's in the Shadow Clock tower and having lost key minions in Ironbriar, the Scarecrow, the Skinsaw cult and her cadre of faceless stalkers decides to oversee the plans she has set in motion in Korvosa personally and relocates there. Her intent is to use the disease developed by the Red Mantis Assassins and the Urgotha Cult to kill as many people in Korvosa as possible, spreading it through the infectious silver and thereby catching as many greedy souls as possible in her sweep.

The doctors will be in her employ, moving through the city and offering a bogus treatment which will include the branding of the sihedron rune to mark someone as having been made no longer infectious which is, of course, a complete lie. The ship will have been her machinations and I'm thinking about either replacing Lady Andaisin with her as the final boss (or making the two of them lovers and being encountered together which might be too tough a final battle, I'm still weighing all of that). Some of the encounters I won't be using and a couple I'll likely add, but I really like the idea of the wererats, of them being blamed, a potential war brewing and the PC's making allies of them by stopping the war from happening. They'll become agents/spies for the characters, offering valuable clues as to what's really going on and where people can be found.

Queen Illeosa's role in all this is going to be pretty minor if any at all. My plan is to have her under Sorshien's sway, unknown to any - including herself - and for her to have had no role in the plague. In fact, its her distraction that allowed for Xanesha to infiltrate and use her plague-carriers and her false doctors to spread the disease entirely. I do plan on having her take notice of the PC's and their quest before the end of the story however, or perhaps just at the end, which is where the rival party will be established and put on the PC's trail. Sorshien also wants to reassemble the Sihedron - it was why Illeosa sent the Grey Maidens to the Lady's Light to recover the Shard of Lust in the first place. In the aftermath of the plague that infected her city, she realizes Karzoug's (or more likely some unknown Runelord rival) machinations have already begun and she moves to thwart him as well, meaning that the PC's won't receive the full attentions of Illeosa/Sorshien and that the rival party will act as a surrogate in that matter.


mbauers wrote:
Your players captured the Dominator in Book 2? How'd they pull that off?

The Dominator was one of the best 'villains' in the AP for my group. Early on in Blood Cove they were convinced by another captain to work together to take down a Chellish convoy of ships, but were unprepared for the Dominator travelling with the convoy as an escort. Their fellow pirate pressed ahead with his attack and the PC's tried to assist, but the Dominator destroyed the other ship and came after them. A three day cat-and-mouse game took place with them finally able to give them the slip...

...then later, when they had leveled a bit (7th), they encountered the Dominator again, this time moored at the mouth of a river they were about to sail down, trapping them. they anchored upriver and scouted a bit, and then our Master Summoner really got one of his moments to shine. He flew over (Fly spell) invisibly (Invisibility spell) and summoned 45 augmented small fire elementals to reign chaos aboard ship (Summon Monster IV SLA 10 times with Superior Summoning resulting in 1d4+1+1 x 10 small elementals from SMII list), giving the PC's time to slip past the Dominator with only a couple of shots fired. Sure, he blew his load going for the nuclear option, but it paid off big time.

The Dominator made a final appearance in the big sea battle that served as the climax of our campaign as part of the invading Chellish fleet. The PC's loved seeing it again and finally sinking their old nemesis for good.

I made a bunch of changes to this AP (its my favorite) which I've expounded on at length in other threads, but the two biggest and the two I'd recommend the most is that I had Aron Ivey be alive in book 1 and I switched around most of the events in books 5 and 6 so that the big sea battle against the invading Chellish fleet was the climax rather than a dungeon crawl.

Any questions about either, I'll be happy to expound upon.

Peet wrote:
If so, how did it fit in? And where did you put it?

With all the modifications I've made, looking for things to include and really round out my RotRL campaign, the Sandpoint Devil never really 'spoke' to me, and I elected not to include it. I'm actually not going to be using very much at all from the Hinterlands - I think there is an entire campaign worth of source material there, but since I've put together this 10 volume AP storyline mixing elements of RotRL and Shattered Star, too many side quests can become a distraction.

The Deverins are farmers and brewers by trade.

A large part of the 'leadership' aspect of their family history stems from the role they played in the founding of Sandpoint.

From the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition:

The foundation of a new town is not a matter to be taken lightly, nor one to be funded by a single investor. Four powerful families from Magnimar had designs on the region, and rather than work against each other, they consolidated their efforts and formed the Sandpoint Mercantile League. These four families— the Kaijitsus (glassmakers), the Valdemars (shipbuilders), the Scarnettis (loggers), and the Deverins (farmers and brewers)—sailed north to claim their land after securing the rights from Magnimar. Yet when they arrived in the spring of 4666 ar, they found the place already settled by a large tribe of Varisians.

Refusing to be set back, the Sandpoint Mercantile League began a series of talks with the Varisians, promising them an important place in the new township. Unfortunately, after a week of talks that seemed to be going nowhere, an impatient man named Alamon Scarnetti took matters into his own hands. Rounding up a group of his brothers and cousins, the Scarnettis mounted a murderous raid on the Varisian camp, intent on killing them all and leaving evidence to blame local goblins for the deed. Yet the Scarnettis, too drunk and overconfident, managed to kill only five Varisians before they were themselves forced to flee, leaving behind three of their own.

The Sandpoint Mercantile League fled back to Magnimar, and in the months to follow were embroiled in the repercussions of Alamon’s assault. Magnimar’s Varisian Council demanded punishment for all four families, but the High Court arbitrated a peace between them, in no small thanks to the remarkable diplomatic skills of a young bard and member of one of the families accused—Almah Deverin. Not only did she manage to assuage the Varisians’ call for blood payment, she also managed to salvage the plans for Sandpoint by promising not only to incorporate the worship of Desna into the new town’s cathedral, but also to pay the Varisian Council a generous share of any profits made by Sandpoint businesses over the course of the next 40 years. One year later, the Sandpoint Mercantile League began construction on several buildings with the full cooperation of the Varisian people. In the years since Sandpoint’s foundation, the settlement has flourished. Although the initial term of the compact with the Varisian Council has passed, Sandpoint’s government has elected to extend the compact another 20 years, much to the consternation of a few locals.

Of course that's not to say that any of your alterations aren't as good or better - just injecting some canon history in there for those who were curious.

One of my favorite 'independent' graphic novels is Top Cow's Madame Mirage. They only did the one story as a full compilation but I found it wonderfully imaginative, beautifully drawn (and especially colored) and very clever in its story-telling and reveal. It even had a little self-parody thrown in for good measure.

For those of you who haven't read it, its highly recommended. For those of you who have, how would you cast it? A younger Monica Bellucci would have been a good fit physically, I imagine, though I don't see her being quite... vivacious... enough to pull off the lead. And for the younger sister, my first thought was Amanda Seyfried, but I don't think she'd be able to manage the pathos necessary. Usually I'm pretty good at this, but this one kind of has me stumped - which is ironic, given how archetypical these characters are, at least on the surface. Thoughts?

Dynas wrote:
On obsidian portal? Do you have a link?

Not on Obsidian Portal, just a regular wiki. We'll have individual journals for each of our players, a regularly updated compendium of people encountered, places visited and items discovered as well as a summary of each chapter as its completed. We're still getting it put together but its coming along nicely.

Let me know if you have any trouble accessing it.

RotRL Wiki

Dynas wrote:

Story ARcher, I'm just reading over Shattered Star 2. I will cut all the stuff in the Mushfens. I will cut the meeting with the witch and the shipwreck. Probably just end up doing a "random encounter" against a tribe of trogdilytes and then they will go into the cave and fight the pyrohyrda. After that have them go through the cave with a trap or two and then get into the actual lady of light dungeon. The prelude of all this just seems unnecessary for the overall story. Thoughts?

I'm probably going to do something other than the shipwreck but I'm absolutely using the witch. Some great RP opportunities there and a good chance to advance my plot with unexpected insights. Brodert Quink will be accompanying the PC's on that trip and I'm already planning for some really neat interactions between she and him. I'll probably use the warring tribes as well, but then I'm not trying to pack in as much other stuff as you are.

We started last Friday night. Our campaign wiki is already up. :)

I've definitely decided I'm going to change how the Shards function. When carried, each will grant +4 to saving throws against the school of magic they represent, and a -2 to saving throws to each of the two schools that their school of magic is opposed to (i.e. Shard of Wrath will grant +4 to saves vs. Evocation spells and a -2 to saves vs. Abjuration and Conjuration spells).

Additionally their curse will remain in effect as written. With the Shard of Wrath, for instance, the PC will be Sickened whenever he or she hasn't reduced a creature to -1 hit points in the past hour, and once they attack someone, it will take a Will 20 save to stop without killing them. However, when the circumstances of the curse have been fulfilled (if they have killed someone in the past hour, for instance), they will effectively gain 1 character level as they become flushed with power.

Theoretically, once re-forged, the Sihedron will grant +7 character levels to its wielder, +4 saves vs. all magic except Divination and none of the curses will be in effect as the re-forging sheds the shards of their individual sin magic influences. A potent artifact to be sure, though I doubt any of the PC's will ever get to wield it whole.

Ioun stones will either play no role in the Shards function, or they will completely (temporarily) nullify the Shard they are affixed to, and have their own abilities subdued as well. I haven't decided yet.

I'm going to play the Shards as semi-sentient, kind of like the One Ring. They want to be found, want to be re-forged, and with the awakening of the Runelords, each Shard has begun to resurface in the hands of someone who is particularly susceptible to their sin magic influences. They will in turn be driving many of the villains the PC's encounter - for instance the Shard of Wrath (gifted to her by Elyrium after she discovered it in the Catacombs of Wrath) will be fueling Nuali's hate towards the denizens of Sandpoint. Meanwhile the Shard of Lust (safeguarded within the Lady's Light) will be manipulating Ashamintallu's into believing herself to be Sorshen reborn, driving her indulgence in hedonistic pleasures and so on. It'll be up to the PC's to gather them, to navigate their hazards and to figure out which are best to use and which are best to keep hidden away.

UPDATE: We had our first session this week. The PC's arrived in Sandpoint and attended the Festival with the following changes:

I ran a version of Daverin Hosk's 'Goblin Toss' just for fun and played up Hosk's teasing of local children that the jerky he was handing out as prizes was, in fact, goblin meat. I also added in a couple of contests including a challenge of strength tossing large stones (not unlike the one in the wedding scene of Braveheart). There were other events I alluded to, but none the PC's felt compelled to participate in.

I added some NPC's staying at the Rusty Dragon Inn for flavor, most notably a Dwarven toy maker down from Magnimar whom had brought some orphans with him for the festival.

When the Goblin Raid took place, I had the first goblin encounter play out as normal, while setting up the second immediately after with goblins menacing Father Zantus and the toy maker as they protected several of the children in the shelter of a doorway. The PC's interceded, dealing with those three while two more pelted them with sling stones from a nearby rooftop. When the encounter ended, I had Ameiko show up to usher the children away while Zantus healed up the PC's.

I added some additional encounters during the raid, one on Hosk's stables (since I had just introduced him), made up of three goblins attacking him while five more attempted to set fire to the stables with the horses inside. It played out as two back-to-back encounters as the second group was wholly distracted by their fun until the PC's engaged them.

I also added a second encounter - two goblins had Shayliss Vinder cornered in an alleyway while she attempted to fend them off with a stool. I wanted to introduce her and set up a more direct involvment between she and one of the PC's before her attempt at seduction later on.

Finally, the showdown at the gate with the mounted Goblin Commando and his gang went as written, with Shayliss and Aldern together to witness the PC's heroics. I wanted to introduce those two NPC's to one another in order to set up the Lust/Envy triangle I'm going to use in the Skinsaw Murders.

Once everything calmed down, there was a gathering at the Rusty Dragon, Sheriff Hemlock showed up to make sure everyone was alright (his guardsmen were doing a door-to-door sweep) and Ameiko and Aldern directed his attentions to the PC's for their heroics. He walked over to thank them when one of the guard rushed up to tell him Father Zantus was requesting his presence at the crypts. Hemlock invited the PC's along to get a measure of them.

Naffer Vosk and Father Zantus were at the Crypts - the stone door to the Mausoleum had been moved and wedged back into place. There were goblin tracks (and one set of 'human') with the sounds of rustling coming from within. The PC's forced the door and faced four skeletons (animated from the remains of past priests of the town laid to rest in this communal crypt). They made sure it was safe before Father Zantus entered and noticed the removal of Father Tobyn's body - he also found something else which caused him to thank the PC's and politely but firmly send them on their way. They and the Sheriff were suspicious but acquiesced and along the way back to the Dragon, Hemlock filled the PC's in on the Late Unpleasantness, focusing more on Stoot and Lonjiku and leaving most of the Nualia story for Zantus to tell, should he wish to.

The next day Ameiko told the PC's they could stay as long as they liked, Aldern invited them on a Boar Hunt the following morning in Tickwood and Shayliss made her play for one of the PC's who was all too eager. I rebuilt Ven as a 3rd level Brawler (Fighter archetype) / 3rd level Commoner with a history of being an accomplished wrestler in his intemperate youth. He pretty much drug the PC in question up the stairs and physically threw him out of the house, banging the wall with his head a few times on the way for good measure. I skipped the Goblin the Closet encounter completely.

The following day the PC's went on the hunt (each having been bought horses and tack as a gift by Aldern), bagging a boar and rescuing the fop a second time in the process. Aldern was effuse in his appreciation but used the trip to subtly feel the PC out over his intentions toward Shayliss. That night Ameiko had the pig roasted as a sort of unofficial feast in the 'heroes' honor and her father Lonjiku showed up to cause his scene. The PC's thought to intercede but Ameiko would have none of it, whirling on the one in particular and asking loudly 'didn't he have enough Daddy issues already?' (his drubbing at Vinder's hands had become public knowledge by then).

The next morning they were summoned to the Cathedral by Father Zantus who wanted to apologize for his curtness the previous day and took the time to tell them Nualia's story in detail, finally revealing what had been left in the crypts for him to find - a long silver braid.

That's where we left off. The PC's are torn between thinking Nualia was behind the raid or has become the victim of foul play by someone wanting to harm the town. Visitors to Sandpoint for the festival have remained holed up while Hemlock's men scouted the roads to Magnimar and beyond to make certain it was safe to travel. The following morning Shalelu will arrive to give her report (reuniting with Ameiko and meeting the PC's in the process) and the day after Hemlock will ride in convoy, escorting a group back to Magnimar with the intention of asking for more troops while there; the PC's will be asked to 'keep a visible presence' in the meanwhile and it'll be after they depart that Ameiko will disappear and her letter be found. Aldern will leave with the convoy, Shayliss giving him a fond farewell with the obvious intent of making the PC she was interested in jealous - this will be the last hint of a relationship between the two NPC's while I try to lay a red herring for the Skinsaw Man's eventual infatuation.


I ~really~ appreciate you taking the time to think it all through and then illuminate your thoughts - your experience will no doubt be invaluable once I reach that part of the campaign and I may well resource you if you don't mind.

Let me tell you what I think I'm going to do (nothing etched in stone at this point) and maybe address some of those points you made and possibly raise some others.

The plot line will go like this:

Sorshein is stirring to semi-consciousness and has begun influencing Queen Ileosa, accentuating her innate wickedness and hijacking it for her own purposes. She was the indirect inspiration for the creation of the Grey Maidens and their eventual perversion as the Queen's personal bodyguards/playthings/gestapo. In response to strange dreams she had, she sent Oriana and a squad of Maidens to the Lady's Light in the hopes of seeking out the Shard of Lust - the only Shard Sorshein actually knew the whereabouts of.

Around the same time Xanesha has put her plans into motion in Magnimar and its surrounding environs and is beginning to make arrangements for Korvosa - her Master, Karzoug, sees the strategic value of reaping souls from Korvosa, undermining Sorshein should she awaken and disrupting her power base. Xanesha clandestinely facilitates the transfer or Vorel's Phage to the Red Mantis Assassins and the Cult of Urgosa via Ironbriar as alluded to in his journals.

The PC's upset the Skinsaw Cult and defeat Ironbriar, discovering his coded journal which must be deciphered (a simple spell prevents the use of magics like Comprehend Languages), a task likely to fall to Brodert Quink. Meanwhile, Sheila Heidmarch contacts the PC's and begins to inform them of what they actually have in their possession (at that time, the Shard of Wrath and the Shard of Envy). As an avid student of Thassillonian and especially Sihedron lore, she suspects another Shard may rest within the Lady's Light. Quink, who's always wanted to see the famous Thassillonian monument requests to tag along, eventually being left with the witch Maroux as the PC's advance to make sure things are safe.

Within the Lady's Light the Grey Maidens have fallen under the sway of the Alu-Demon Ashamintallu who believes herself to be Sorshein reincarnated. The PC's defeat her and liberate Oriana in the process, both from the demon's influence and that of her empowered Queen. When the group reunites with Quink, I will have had him break the cypher (with Maroux's help) and they will be able to deduce that Xanesha has something awful planned for Korvosa, centering around the Phage. Oriana will want to protect her city and save her fellow Maidens, those that can be saved - that alone should be enough for the PC's to head to Korvosa. Heidmarch herself has had some involvement with that city in her past as well and will understand their desire if not encourage them to do just that.

As far as running the actual volume goes, its becoming apparent to me how much of it I'm actually going to have to change though I intend to keep the spirit of its original intent alive. The PC's will basically sneak in, not wanting to be recognized by Xanesha's agents and Oriana not wanting to be recognized by her brethren. Somehow during their investigations I'm going to tie them into the little girl who gets sick and the priest's reaction to their efforts. The plague is going to strike the city via the silver that washes ashore and will spread much as it is written in the books. How the Sihedron brand makes its way onto the dead is something I've yet to fully explore - possibly by the 'doctors' using a magical rune disguised as part of their healing efforts? In this version, the Queen does in fact want the plague to stop, but she is so removed from the trials of her city by Sorshein's influence that her efforts are distracted and half-hearted at first, which allows Xanesha to get her agents into position. Upon realizing her ancient enemy is behind these machinations, Sorshein/Ileosa will move quickly and decisively at the end, likely just on the group's heels. The PC's will come to her attentions by the end of it and it will be she who sets the rival party after them when they depart the city, leaving Oriana behind to continue her personal struggle to free her sisters from their unrealized bondage.

That's the plan, anyway. How many of the actual encounters I'll be able to use from the volume remain to be seen, and this will definitely be the biggest re-write I have to do. There's just too many good things in Korvosa not to make the attempt. That part of the campaign is a full half-AP away at this point, so I feel comfortable that I'll have time to iron things out by the time it comes up, especially with such splendid assistance as I'm getting.

Fromper wrote:
Maybe I'll edit the letter to take out the references to specific locations, so they don't know where to go to follow up on the letter, but still get lots of plot info. I could just take out the reference to Turtleback Ferry, and change "Fort Raddick" to "the fort" in the letter, so they'll be worried about a fort, but have no idea what fort. A month later, when the mayor receives word that Turtleback Ferry has lost contact with Fort Raddick, they'll jump on it.

That sounds like an ideal solution. Players generally love to be able to tie in things happening now with things that happened in the past, especially if they get to think that they 'figured something out'.

Ashkar wrote:
I had the same question, and after some considerations, removed the letter. My party was in need of some downtime, and I decided that only after some side quests (Dawn of Scarlet Sun, The Feast of Ravenmoor), Grobaras will choose them for expedition to Fort Rannick. Only saving his life from a potential (from his point of view) hit, wasn't enough for him. Even for choosing them as expandable assets.

I'm going to remove the letter as well. The first time I ran it the PC's were out the door to turtleback Ferry almost immediately... this time around I'll be running Curse of the Lady's Light and Seven Days to the Grave as part of the larger campaign before having them head up to Ft. Rannick anyway, so the mayor coming in should work just fine.

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Dynas wrote:

All that extra will powers will make them high enough I imagine. I've been looking and I dont really see how to incorporate seven swords(at least the dungeon part) though you may be able to add the items. I've also tinkered with your plot line a little for my own story.

Waking Rune is a module. The hollow mountains in Dungeons of Golarion aka Wrath Runelord.

I just found a number of Season 4 PFS scenarios (including Waking Rune) which may or may not make for nice inserts here and there:

4-01 Rise of the Goblin Guild
4-02 In Wrath's Shadow
4-03 The Golemworks Incident
4-04 King of the Storval Stairs
4-08 The Cultist's Kiss
4-10 Feast of Sigils
4-12 The Refuge of Time
4-26 The Waking Rune
(Special) The Rune-carved Key

As I said before, its already going to be a long campaign and I'm looking for things to cut - anything I add is going to be very carefully considered.

I expect both Shiela Heidmarch (who I'm going to run as a major Machiavellian NPC) and Magnimar to figure prominently in the campaign, and while I don't expect the PC's to become members of the PFS, they may be convinced to act on their behalf from time to time.

Shiela is going to be a driving force behind the reforging of the Star, almost to the point of obsessiveness, driven by the very real fear of the re-awakening of the Runelords as well as a powerful desire to see the PFS rise in influence and her along with it. She and Brodert Quink will be competing sources of information (and misinformation) which should make for some fun role-play. One thing I'm going to do is have her supply the PC's with a special chest for carrying the Shards, one that if opened appears to be normal, but if opened with a special command word will open an extra-dimensional space where the Shards can be safely stored - unbeknownst to them, she has a similar chest that allows her access to the same space, meaning that she can withdraw the Shards at any time as well. In her mind its a reasonable safety precaution with the PC's traipsing all over Varisia, facing death and destruction at every turn. I plan on having that 'deception' throw an interesting twist at the group later in the campaign.

Dynas wrote:

You have shard of sloth under ROtRL 3 and SS 5, I assume mama Garul is Gluttony perhaps?

Have you considered trying to put in the Krune from the Waking Rune? What abou the Hollow Mountain dungeon and adding wrath?Have you looked at incorporating the 7 Swords? im working on stating them out.

I like your ideas on changing the shards. With 3 PC's it is going to be difficult. You may want to consider always giving max HP each level. They also will have more wealth than their level beginning fairly early and that may compensate for it.
What race/classes are they?

I like the idea of a rival party though I don't know where/how you will fill that in with all the AP stuff. How were you planning to do this?

As a quick update, after chatting with someone in the CotCT forum, I've decided I'm going to do Lady's Light before Seven Days to the Grave - I've got a much smoother flow that way.

Mammy Graul is indeed supposed to be the Shard of Gluttony, thanks for pointing that out.

I haven't looked into Waking Rune (scenario or module?) nor Hollow Mountains. The group isn't a particularly trap-happy bunch so I'm not going to be doing Seven Swords either. With 10 AP volumes already I'm going to be giving anything I think to add in a very critical eye.

The party is made up of a Half-elven Spirit Summoner who's being built as a melee type, his eidolon almost like his mentor and trainer in the combat arts in addition to being his guardian, a reformed Sczarni thug (human) who now serves as a very non-traditional Paladin of Sarenrae and a teenaged girl (also human) living under a curse (Blackblooded Oracle, spellscar Curse with some reworks who draws her spells from the Sorcerer/Wizard list instead of the Cleric/Oracle). At any given time they will have between 0 and 2 NPC's adventuring with them, most notably in the early going Shalelu, Oriana and a rebuilt Brodert Quink (non-combatant Archivist Bard).

To compensate for just being three of them, I've given them a 25 point build and 2 extra skill ranks per level. As standard house rules, all characters gain Power Attack, Combat Expertise and Point Blank shot for free if they meet the pre-requisites. All casters gain the feats Eschew Materials and Heighten Spell for free as well. Plus, if I keep my changes to the Shards, once they get at least three of them they'll all have the opportunity to operate as if they were one level higher.

As far as the rival party goes, these are some of my thoughts on that:

The young Chelaxian Cavalier is seeking to increase his own power and influence by working in concert with a Sorshien-influenced Queen Ileosa (allies in his mind, a pawn in hers) to seek out these Shards which Sorshien in turn wants to use for the same reason as Karzoug, to reforge the Sihedron and hasten her return to power. The Inquisitor will be his mentor and advisor (kind of the Rasputin in his ear, and one who might have his own agreements with Ileosa or perhaps be seeking the artifacts for his own purposes). The two Hellknights were intended to be kind of nameless, as I want them to be replaceable from time to time by other hirelings or henchmen should the PC's slay them. The Red Mantis Assassin I figured would be the tracker of the group, seeking them out in revenge for foiling their plan in Korvosa and exposing their involvement - I'm also going to work in some personal angle so that the Assassin will want revenge on the PC's (or one specific PC) that will push him to go above and beyond even the Assassin's mandate. Driven by hate, that kind of thing.

The role of the group would be to sort of act as a foil for the PC's. Sometimes the knowledge that they might be on their heels will put a sense of urgency into their actions and keep them on track, while sometimes trying to catch up with them can serve as a hook to the next area/encounter. Ideally I'd like there to be at least 2-3 direct confrontations over the course of the campaign, enough that the PC's will be intimately familiar with their adversary.

I think I'm going to alter the way the Shards work. I'm going to eliminate the benefits they provide and instead cause each of them to grant an additional effective level/HD to any creature that wields them, so long as they satisfy the conditions of the curse. If they do not satisfy them (eating every hour, sex every 12 hours, killing every hour, etc.) then they do not gain the bonus level and are sickened. The Ioun Stones, once placed, eliminate both the curse and the benefit, 'subduing them', so to speak. Carrying multiple Shards does not increase the character level/HD beyond +1, but does stack the curses/requirements for the character to benefit.

Those curses/limitations will reflect the infuence of the various Runelords and their Sin Magic. Once re-forged, the Sihedron's power effectively elevates a creature's level/HD by 7 levels without any negative side-effects (making it a mighty artifact indeed).

The campaign is going to be played by 3 PC's - any thoughts as to potential problems making these changes?

The Karzavon = Karzoug was a thought I figured might play well if I was going to try to tie in more of CotCT, but I'm probably going to disregard that now. I'm basically going to have Sorshien whispering to Ileosa (almost) exclusively, but enhancing her abilities and enabling her to be able to more effectively manipulate others - again, this is going to be more background than a focus for the PC's so I'm not going to try to define it too much ahead of time, in case there are some tweaks I want to make down the road. The hold over the Grey Maidens in the Lady's Light will be that of the alu-demon who believes herself to be Sorshien reborn, aided in large part by the Shard she holds.

Xanesha potentially killing off so many of Korvosa's citizens - noble and poor alike in this version - only works to Karzoug's advantage by weakening Sorshien's powerbase and disrupting her own efforts while siphoning off souls for his own Runewells. I figure by then the two of them will both realize on some level that the other is seeking the same things, and they will be working at cross-purposes. Of course their agents will be relatively ignorant of all of this.

The thought behind the rival party is this:

The young Chelaxian Cavalier is seeking to increase his own power and influence by working in concert with Ileosa (allies in his mind, a pawn in hers) to seek out these Shards which Sorhsien in turn wants to use for the same reason as Karzoug, to reforge the Sihedron and hasten her return to power. The Inquisitor will be his mentor and advisor (kind of the Rasputin in his ear, and one who might have his own agreements with Ileosa or perhaps be seeking the artifacts for his own purposes). The two Hellknights were intended to be kind of nameless, as I want them to be replaceable from time to time by other hirelings or henchmen should the PC's slay them. The Red Mantis Assassin I figured would be the tracker of the group, seeking them out in revenge for foiling their plan in Korvosa and exposing their involvement - I'm also going to work in some personal angle so that the Assassin will want revenge on the PC's (or one specific PC) that will push him to go above and beyond even the Assassin's mandate. Driven by hate, that kind of thing.

The role of the group would be to sort of act as a foil for the PC's. Sometimes the knowledge that they might be on their heels will put a sense of urgency into their actions and keep them on track, while sometimes trying to catch up with them can serve as a hook to the next area/encounter. Ideally I'd like there to be at least 2-3 direct confrontations over the course of the campaign, enough that the PC's will be intimately familiar with their adversary. The party is only three players right now with the hopes of adding a fourth (I'll be augmenting them with various NPC's along the way), so I'm fine with the rival gang not being particularly caster-heavy.

One of the interesting ideas is that, since the rival party is going to be primarily lawful, nothing prevents them from cooperating with the group in a moment of desperation to ensure both of their survival, only to return to their rivalry the moment they escape.

Its just so great to be able to talk to someone about all of this!

Alright, I've been thinking about this (I wish I could edit old posts after the obligatory hour) and this is what I've come up with:

Since the grand backstory of CotCT isn't something I want my PC's to delve into, I'm going to switch things around a little bit. First off, it'll be Sorshein's semi-conscious self that's whispering in Ileosa's ear. The Queen will have sent the Grey Maidens to the Lady's Light in an effort to recover some needed artifact (the Shard of Lust and possibly one of the last remaining clones Sorshein had prepared) and while there they will have fallen under the sway of the Alu-Demon Ashamintallu. The PC's will go to the Lady's Light before Korvosa, having been directed there by Sheila Heidmarch and explore that AP volume first.

Meanwhile, Xanesha will have escaped them in Magnimar and fled to Korvosa to put into action her plans of killing greedy souls via the plague the Mantis Assassins/Cultists of Urgosa have concocted using Vorel's Phage and spread via stolen silver. Ileosa's won't have anything to do with this particular plot, focused as she is on the Shard and, eventually the Sihedron.

The hope is that the PC's will defeat most of the Grey Maidens in the Light but will eventually free Oriana of her mental control, righting not just her enchantment but also her sanity. Meanwhile Brodert Quink will have been working on Ironbriar's cypher and when the PC's return from the Lady's Light will be able to tell them of the plot against Korvosa (minus any real details). Oriana will be their 'way in' to her home city though she will have to keep her own identity secret while there.

The story becomes the PC's effort to stop the plague, thwart the Red Mantis/Urgosans and finally defeat Xanesha. Oriana will remain behind to fight to free her sisters from their torturous existence under Queen Ileosa while the PC's resume their search for the Sihedron shards. Meanwhile, during their time in the city, the PC's will have drawn the attention of a rival faction, possibly the Queen herself, again acting under Sorshien's influence. A group of Chelaxians will be sent after them, including an ambitious young noble (Cavalier, Order of the Peacock), two Hellknight loyalists, his Inquisitor mentor (Asmodeus) and a vengeful Red Mantis assassin gone rogue. From this point until probably SS#5 or RotRL#5, this rival party will dog their steps in their efforts to recover the Shards first, replacing its membership as appropriate.

I don't intend for Sorshein's influence to become known or apparent, though some of the clues in the Lady's Light will hint at those connections.

What do you think? Remember, I'm not really trying to tell the CotCT story, merely trying to use Seven Days as an introduction to Korvosa and the Grey Maidens as well as to enhance the plot of the Shattered Star/Runelords mix I've got going.

Dreaming Psion wrote:
Obviously, Korvosa's evil queen is a very evil and masterful villain in her right, and her inclusion could potentially overshadow the quest against the Runelords. So providing an alternate source of the plague might be in order. Davalus could be working for Karzoug in trying to discover a quicker way of making people die (and harvest their souls) that seems more "natural" for example. Alternatively, the Arkonas (a mob family of rakshasas from Escape from Old Korvosa- the following adventure in the Curse of the Crimson Throne) could be trying to do what the queen is doing in the default AP. Or even more out there, if you were willing to dig into some of the Pathfinder society scenarios there were a few associated with the cult of Lissala and the waking of the Runelord of Sloth- he could make for an easily inserted villain. High level and a possible preview with the showdown with Karzoug.

I'm re-reading this again and thinking about how the plague is being spread through use of silver... there may be a way to tie that in as a means of harvesting a large number of 'greedy souls' that could be another part of Xanesha's machinations. That would allow the PC's to track her there is she escapes and put a final end to the threat she poses, creating the needed 'villain' for the volume. The Grey Maidens could pop back up at the Lady's Light under other circumstances, some possibilities of which you've already mentioned.

Dreaming Psion,

I appreciate the 'big picture' you painted for me, as I'm not as familiar with CotCT as I am the other two AP's. I actually only just read Seven Days from beginning to end last night.

I was mildly frustrated (but not at all surprised) to see how much of the second volume was dependent or directly tied to events in the first. Its important to make the point that what I'm trying to do as an over-reaching campaign is to tell the story of Shattered Star, using Rise of the Runelords primarily to do it - as such, I'm less concerned with keeping intact the Crimson Throne narrative apart from what it might be able to add to that story-arch. Karzavon, for instance, likely wouldn't play much if any role in my campaign nor would the Queen except as a backdrop... though your point of linking Karzavon with Karzoug is interesting - I'll already have Cadrilkasta in possession of the Shard of Sloth and Ghlorofaex ruling Xin-Shalast, both of them Blue Dragons... perhaps even re-writing the legend of Karzavon as a draconic alias of the 'Master of Transmutation Sin Magic' Karzoug which would explain his alliances with that particular breed? Just musing here.

What I was hoping to do was to use the plague in Seven Days to tie Korvosa into the overall story via Ironbriar, Vorel's Phage and the Grey Maidens at the Lady's Light. In so doing I thought I might be able to use Korvosa as a refuge for one villain (Xanesha) and an introduction to another (a rival party seeking the Shards). Looking at Seven Days as its been written, I'm forced to admit that might have been a little too ambitious as the story in that one volume doesn't advance the plot very far and only just introduces the Grey Maidens. If I include Seven Days, its going to take some more extensive re-writes than I thought and I'm going to have to be very careful to keep the PC's from going off on the 'Ilesoa/Korvosa' tangent and derailing the flow of the main plotline I expect them to follow.

We'll see. Any additional advice or perspectives continue to be most welcome.

Krathanos wrote:
Of all the mashup APs I've read about, this looks like the most feasible. Your players will have a blast! Have fun and good luck!

We're looking forward to it - this will be the first and likely only AP's my group ever runs, so I really wanted to make it memorable and epic. Its a new group but it feels like a really good one so I'm excited.

The thing is, I'm trying to tell the Shattered Star story, but I'm primarily using Rise of the Runelords to do it. I want to make the flow smooth and intuitive, including as much 'good stuff' in it as possible without having the campaign go off the rails or having them lose sight of the overall goals. I may work in a module or PFS scenario here or there but I'm going to try to keep it to a minimum unless it really enhances the story.

To that end, I'm really struggling over the inclusion of Seven Days to the Grave. I just read it in detail last night for the first time and even though the location and situation seems well suited to the circumstances I've got set up, its also really heavily reliant on a lot of relationships established in the first book... moreover, the story in CotCT doesn't advance as quickly in that volume as I had thought - the Grey Maidens are only introduced and the battle with the Queen doesn't even really begin. I'm very hesitant to add more volumes from that AP so I may end up dropping it altogether. We'll see. I'm trying to avoid doing any more re-writes than absolutely necessary but Korvosa is so ripe with potential I really want to include it.

I'm going to be doing an extended Rise of the Runelords/Shattered Star campaign (as detailed here) and I want to take the opportunity to integrate Seven Days to the Grave into the campaign. I fee like there's a pretty solid lead-in with the PC's witnessing firsthand the horror of Vorel's Phage in the Misgivings and then finding Ironbriar's journals that indicate his cooperation with the Red Mantis assassins at the conclusion of The Skin saw Murders... I also feel like I've got a nice path back, working in Curse of the Lady's Light as the PC's perhaps track a group of renegade Grey Maidens or have are directed to it as a potential resting place for one of the Shards. I'm also considering using Korvosa as a place to introduce a rival group from Cheliax and to possibly make it a last refuge for Xanesha the Lamia

The thing is, that I'm very familiar with the SS and RotRL AP's but not so much so with CotCT. I'm looking for all of the hooks and angles that I can tie this one volume into the other two AP's without re-writing any more than I have to... and I really don't want to miss out on any opportunity to maximize my player's experiences in this, their one opportunity to really visit Korvosa. Any advice suggestions or random thoughts along these lines would be much appreciated.

TheCleanHippie wrote:

True, I suppose it would be Ironbriar himself who would take Orik in that scenario. Hmm... I've read your ideas on Orik Story Archer and I like them quite a bit.

I don't really think Ironbriar would go out on such a limb as to try and use or abuse either Lyrie or Orik considering he gets by in his double-life by being very careful and not overstepping his boundaries too much.

I'm actually going to be running an expanded version of RotRL with three books from SS and one from CotCT and I'm thinking this time of having Orik turn up with his sister (from Shattered Star) later in the campaign in Mangimar as a (somewhat) friendly face... that's assuming he survives Thistletop, of course. The Vancaskerkins are Golarion bluebloods, they deserve to show up as often as is reasonably possible.

In my campaign, Lyrie will be Nualia's lover and Tsuto's infatuation will be with his half-sister Ameiko, leaving Orik with little to no ties or loyalties to the gang in Thistletop.

TheCleanHippie wrote:

I am looking for advice on how to handle Orik beyond simply his appearance in Burnt Offerings. In Burnt Offerings I played up his "clueless mercenary in over his head" bit quite a bit and he not only led the PCs to Nualia but aided them in the fight. Despite this my players refused to lie to the Sandpoint authorities and still turned him in to the Sheriff. Now, I plan to introduce Ironbriar during Orik and Lyrie's trial and I know Lyrie will likely receive jail-time. Orik, however, I am a little unsure of.

Option one would be to have him turned over to the Black Arrows and have him reappear later as a possible cohort when rescued from the farm in HMM(I only generally allow existing NPCs to become cohorts in my games). I've seen many people do this already.

In my first run I had him turn up at Turtleback Ferry as one of the gaming patrons aboard the Paradise... allowed him to give the PC's some insight as to what went down there. He joined up with them for part of the adventure and was eventually stayed with the Black Arrows to help rebuild after the HMM was completed.

Dynas wrote:
Awesome. I actually just posted a thread similar to this. Wish i would have saw yours. Basically im doing the same thing though ive already started. Almost at the end of the Skinsaw murders. My deal is though I want to incorporate all 7 runelords and XIN!

I saw your post - I worry that you might be spreading yourself a little too thin and might be deviating from the books so much the entire thing is original material (not that that is necessarily a bad thing).

I just expanded my final campaign plotline and posted it on the AP forum for advise here.

Phntm888 wrote:
I've been debating about rebuilding Nualia as a Warpriest. Do you think that might make her too much of an obstacle, giving her swift action buffing as an option?

I'm going to be doing this. I don't think it'll be that much of a game-changer. Give it a playtest if you think it might be too rough for your party.

Tangent101 wrote:
I think you have enough material to bring the players to level 20. :)

As do I, I'm just concerned about how much I'll have to re-write to keep their leveling even close to being smooth.

I went ahead and made a post on the main AP forum about this - since I'm tying together not 2 but 3 different AP's now it seems to have outgrown a RotRL-specific campaign.

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I've run Rise of the Runelords once pretty much all the way through. Now, with a new group, I'm attempting what really will be my most ambitious campaign ever - I'm going to use 10 volumes gathered from 3 AP's to tell one story. The story arc will actually be that of the Shattered Star, that of gathering the sihedron shards and reassembling them, but it will be told predominantly through Rise of the Runelords. I'm posting the rough draft of the campaign as it will unfold, and I'm looking for thoughts and advice as we move forward... I'm very cautious about trying to do too much - I don't want the PC's wandering off on what feels like a tangent for months - but I feel like every AP volume I've included is both relevant and builds on the story.

This is how I'm laying everything out:

Runelords #1 - Burnt Offerings:
The Rise of the Runelords begins as it was written, with the Swallowtail Festival and progressing as normal with the main exception being that the Shard of Wrath will be either in the possession of Elyrium or, more likely Nualia. The PC's will have no real knowledge of what they have found or what it signifies.

Runelords #2 - The Skinsaw Murders:
The Skinsaw Murders also progresses as written with no changes, except that the Shard of Envy will be in the possession of the Skinsaw Man. Finding a second shard should get the PC's curious, and I expect Brodert Quink to begin playing a much bigger role as an NPC as he aids the PC's in their research. The gist here is that the Sihedron, as a sort of sentient artifact a la the One Ring, wants to be found, wants to be reassembled, and has begun surfacing throughout Varisia in the hands of those whom its driving Sin most appeals to. During the volume the PC's will likely meet Sheila Heidmarch socially, and she will have long been a Sihedron scholar - her desire to see it reforged and in the hands of the PFS will have her both aid, illuminate and potentially mislead or manipulate the PC's as the AP unfolds. They will also encounter Vorel's Phage and discover Ironbriar's link to the Mantis Assassins and hints at what might be taking place in Korvosa.

Crimson Throne #2 - Seven Days to the Grave:
This is probably the most ambitious aspect of the campaign since I'm attempting to insert a single volume, but the lead-in seems potentially strong (Vorel's Phage from the Misgivings, Ironbriar and his journal linking to the Red Mantis assassins) and both the geography and the theme will be campaign-appropriate considering Sorshien's relationship with Korvosa, something I plan on playing up over time. Including this volume will probably involve the heaviest re-write, but I'm really hoping to keep as much of the original story as intact as possible. One thought is to have Xanesha escape the PC's in Mangimar and reappear here (I love recurring villains), once again manipulating events from behind the scenes before finally being dealt with. Its just such a great adventure I'd really like to include it as part of my players' experience.

Shattered Star #2 - Curse of the Lady's Light:
I'm going to tie this in to Seven Days From the Grave, perhaps by having he PC's tracking an escaped/renegade group of Grey Maidens and/or having Sheila point the PC's in its direction as a potential resting place for the Shard of Lust (which will be in the hands of the alu-demon Ashamintallu). Connections to Sorshein will abound, and I fully intend for one of my players to fall 'victim' to the Clone trap.

Runelords #3 - Hook Mountain Massacre:
The Rise of the Runelords will get back on track here and play out pretty much as normal. Mammy Graul will be in possession of the Shard of Sloth.

Runelords #4 - Fortress of the Stone Giants:
Again, this volume will play out pretty much as written, though I plan on having the Assault on Sandpoint be a much bigger affair, with a sort of 'gathering of heroes' from among the NPC's the group has befriended and allied with to this point. Mokmurian, as a servant of Karzoug (whom also wishes to see the Sihedron reforged but under his control) has come into possession of the Shard of Pride and is 'holding it' for his master while the others are sought.

Shattered Star #5 - Into the Nightmare Rift:
Given the geography up to this point, the involvement with Giants and the impending ties between Karzoug and Leng, this seems like a natural insert here with very little needing to be re-written. Nightmare Rift and Sins of the Saviors may end up being a bit of a mash-up though, depending on how events unfold. As written, the Shard of Sloth will be in possession of the Blue Dragon Cadrilkasta.

Runelords #5 - Sins of the Saviors:
Rise of the Runelords gets back fully on track here, with tons of clues and revelations tying everything together as the showdown with Karzoug begins to loom large.

Runelords #6 - Spires of Xin-Shalast:
Karzoug is in possession of the Shard of Greed and hopes to lure the PC's to him with as many of the other shards as possible, or failing that, exterminate its guardians and set his minions to the task of recovering them. Xin-Shalast really brings home for everyone the world that awaits them should he succeed.

Shattered Star #6 - The Dead Heart of Xin:
With the threat of Karzoug dealt with but the very real looming fear of the potential return of the other Runelords, Sheila pushes for the reforging of the Sihedron with all of Varisia looking on... and as foretold, disaster strikes.

The PC's will be leveling up at predetermined times with the understanding that they may spend more time at some levels than others to accommodate the adventures they are going to have, but there will still be a need for me to scale up or down certain parts of the various books - the goal would be for them to eventually reach 20th in the final act. The biggest potential problem I see here is the Skinsaw-Lady's Light-Seven Days stretch where three AP volumes cover roughly the same levels in difficulty. Scaling them up where needed will be a little tricky if I want to make sure they don't outlevel the Hook Mountain Massacre before the get to it.

I'm also thinking about introducing a rival party at some point, made up of a group of revolving villains (as some get killed and need to be replaced) - probably a group that first makes an appearance in Korvosa, maybe from Chelliax and also seeking the Shards for their own nefarious purposes. A renegade Red Mantis assassin seeking to avenge himself on the PC's would make for a nice member of the party, as would an ambitious Chellaxian noble with his Inquisitor of Asmodeous mentor and a couple of current/former Hellknights, perhaps?

At any rate, the campaign will begin this Friday, and will move at a pace that should allow for me to get tons of ideas and input from you guys along the way. I'm curious as to any thoughts or opinions, critiques or advice, particularly involving things to cut in order to streamline the campaign (I already know I'm dropping the Sanitarium from the Skinsaw Murders, for instance) or better ways to integrate the various AP volumes so as to keep the story connected and progressing naturally.

For those of you following this thread, I had a thought...

Why not work in one of the most popular single AP volumes of all time, Seven Days to the Grave from Curse of the Crimson Throne?

The lead there and back again has already been laid, I think - in the Misgivings they have their first encounter with Vorel's Phage and after the group manages to defeat Justice Iron Briar, they find in his journal evidence that he's supplied the Red Mantis with the disease... that's the lead-in that can be expounded on and take them to Korvosa.

Then, I'm planning on running the Curse of the Lady's Light which features a group of Grey Maidens either in exile or on the run. I don't think it'd be hard to make a few subtle changes to the story, having the PC's track the group from Korvosa, or perhaps being alerted of their possible location by Sheila Heidmarch... there's any number of ways to tie it all in, I think.

The biggest problem I see at the moment is the fact that The Skinsaw Murders, the Curse of the Lady's Light and Seven Days to the Grave are all volume II of their respective AP's, meaning that they all take place over approximately the same levels. I've warned my PC's that their leveling may accordion a bit, but I don't think I want them stuck at one power level for too long. I suppose I can bump up each encounter a bit, but I don't want the PC's to out-level the Hook Mountain Massacre in the meantime.

I really like the idea of advancing the story in this fashion as there are strong Runelords ties with Sorshien's potential resting place and much of the shared history of the region. That's 10 AP volumes in one campaign... what do you think?

Runelords #1 - Burnt Offerings (Shard of Wrath)

Runelords #2 - The Skinsaw Murders (Shard of Envy)

Crimson Throne #2 - Seven Days to the Grave

Shattered Star #2 - Curse of the Lady's Light (Shard of Lust)

Runelords #3 - Hook Mountain Massacre (Shard of Sloth)

Runelords #4 - Fortress of the Stone Giants (Shard of Pride)

Shattered Star #5 - Into the Nightmare Rift (Shard of Sloth)

Runelords #5 - Sins of the Saviors

Runelords #6 - Spires of Xin-Shalast (Shard of Greed)

Shattered Star #6 - The Dead Heart of Xin (Sihedron reforged)

Tangent101 wrote:

Small note on roll20: I actually use it for both my Runelords and Reign of Winter campaigns. Initially I was doing things via webcam with miniatures. It was... not that helpful for the remote players. When I switched to Roll20 and required my players to use roll20, there were some initial problems but we overcame them. With my half-tabletop, half-remote group (Runelords) I've taken to putting the roll20 up on the large-screen TV for everyone to view.

It works nicely for everyone involved, makes distances and the like more accurate, and ultimately reduces the amount of work I need to do - while I have to upload maps and the like, I'm not searching for miniatures or doing "use-as" miniatures, I'm not measuring things on the table, worrying about knocking things over, having issues with how much space is available, and so forth.

I like to think it's sped things up a bit. And yes, you have an initial investment of time, but that's more than compensated for with less time wasted during the game itself.

I appreciate that input because that's exactly what I'm hoping to do - to simply enhance the experience for my players by putting the maps up on a TV on the wall, maps that aren't quickly and crudely hand-drawn by me between encounters. If it has their representations on it, that of the foes they are facing, and accurately reproduces line-of-sight and the fog-of-war, I'll be thrilled.

I own the pdfs and maps of both RotRL and SS, I'm hoping the learning curve won't be tto great. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a bit intimidated by the... techie... nature of it,

Fendy wrote:
I am (slowly) working on putting together a RotL campaign and would love to see more of your notes and plans for incorporating the Shattered Star into RotL, as well as any other adventures and changes you have made. It sounds extremely interesting and I think my players would greatly enjoy it.

Okay, wow, there's a lot going on there...

Just offering my perspective - there are a lot of fun things that you, in theory, could include simply due to proximity of setting but I feel like a regular AP is a huge under-taking and commitment time-wise, and everything you add in should enhance that experience, otherwise you risk detracting from it. With so many disparate things going on that may or may not have anything to do with the main plot and potentially months upon months of gaming without ever touching on the over-reaching story arc, I think you may be spreading yourself a bit too thin. Even just doing RotRL, you'll meander a bit before you're done. Keep in mind too the relative levels of some of the things you're considering doing... either you're going to have to do a LOT of work re-writing much of what you're thinking about including or characters are going to spend a lot more time at some levels than others.

What I'm technically doing is actually the Shattered Star storyline, but I'm enhancing it by adding in the entire Rise of the Runelords AP in place of three of the SS books. It tells the story better in my opinion, especially with my parsing out the shards to theme-appropriate villains as listed above, insinuating that many of their actions/motivations are driven by the subtle influences of the shards in their possession. Karzoug then becomes one of the driving motivations to reforge the Sihedron rather than being the climax of the campaign himself.

I don't expect my PC's to become PFS members (though that'll be up to them), so Burnt Offerings and the Skinsaw Murders is their actual hook into the campaign and its how they first draw Heidmarch's attentions initially - they'll have two shards in their possession by then and will have gained notoriety by taking down Ironbriar. She in fact helps them by identifying the Shards and telling them much of their history, though she will also keep some things back if they elect not to join the Society. Her priority is the PFS and her place in it, and she won't completely trust the PC's to act in her/thier best interests, so she will use a combination of manipulation and withheld information to try to keep the PC's more or less under her control. I have some interesting interactions between she and Brodert Quink planned as Quink will be a major NPC in this campaign.

Since I'm doing the Lady's Light and I'll be introducing the Grey Maidens and some other things (like Sorshien's clone) from that AP, I may well try to work in some fringe aspects from CotCT just to get them to Korvosa for a bit, but which pieces, when and how I'm going to do it I haven't decided yet. I don't want to distract the group by falling down the rabbit hole of another AP but all of the Sorshien stuff makes for a nice tie-in if I can orchestrate it right. Obviously I'll be playing around with the timeline. I'm also considering a 'rival' party for the group once the hunt for the shards is on - in fact, I may have one or more of the ones they've recovered stolen by this group which will in turn lead the PC's to Korvosa in pursuit.

jhilahd wrote:

I had to add Bruthamuz to the mix, and reskinned the Yeth hound to a Shadow Mastiff, just to keep my group 0f 6 challenged.

3 rounds in she had to activate necklace to gain temporary HP and survive. She charmed one of the fighters to help her attempt to escape, and eventually surrendered.
Now granted, two players went to negative hp, but no deaths.

So she's a captive now, and headed back to and answer for what she has done.

Quick recommendation - have her sent to Magnimar for trial and then have her sprung by Skinsaw cultists en route, Ironbriar having gotten his orders to see it so from the Lamia who view her as a potentially valuable recruit.

This is a complete write-up of the applicable house-rules we'll be using in this campaign:
Rise of the Runelords campaign house-rules:

The feats Power Attack, Point Blank Shot and Combat Expertise are free to all players who meet the pre-requisites. Additionally, all characters gain access to a new feat for free:

Pre-requisite: Dex 13, +1 BAB
A move action may be spent to gain +4 to ranged attacks until the end of the characters turn.

All casters gain the benefit of the Eschew Materials feat and Heighten Spell feat for free.

BAB will be added to the initiative roll for all combatants.

Spell Resistance will not exist in its current form. Creatures with Spell Resistance will instead gain the special ability ‘Spell Resistance’ which provides a blanket +4 to saving throws vs. spells and spell-like abilities. Feats and class features that include Spell Resistance as part of their effects will be disregarded or altered as needed.

Quicken Spell allows you to cast a standard action spell as a move action rather than as a swift action and only raises the required spell slot level by +3.

All PC’s will receive an additional 2 skill ranks per level.

Fighting Defensively is a full-round action which grants a +4 Dodge bonus to AC. Characters fighting defensively may only make attacks of opportunity but take no penalty to attacks.

Aid Another grants its bonus to attack or AC for an entire round against that target (but only that target) rather than just for one attack. If you are adjacent to your ally, it can also be used to grant its bonus to any one save as an immediate action.

Natural attacks provoke AoO's even if they have reach and the defender does not.

A character can make the following actions in a round:

Full round action, swift action.
Standard action, move action, swift action
Standard action, swift action, swift action
Move action, move action, swift action
Move action, swift action, swift action
Swift action, swift action, swift action

In addition, they may make one immediate action per round independent of their use of a Swift action.

Equipment changes:
Light Helm - grants +2 AC vs. Critical confirmations
Great Helm - grants +4 AC vs. Critical confirmations, -2 penalty on Perception checks

Light Armor grants DR +1/-
Medium Armor grants DR +2/-
Heavy Armor grants DR +3/-

Fromper wrote:
So Justice Ironbrar has a wizard spellbook in his treasure. My party's only arcane caster is a sorceress, so nobody in the group can use it. I'm assuming someone else out there has done the math on how much they should be able to sell it for. Anyone want to save me the trouble and tell me what it's worth?

I'm about to run this AP for the second time (though this time with heavy modifications and for a new group), and none of my players are running a Witch or Wizard. As such, I'll be customizing treasure for them along the way, ignoring items as listed in the AP and using my own judgment as to what the appropriate level/amount of gear is.

As to spellbooks specifically, I've always had a hard time figuring their worth - the few times I've seen them priced out, they've seemed woefully lower than what I'd expect to learn an extensive number of new spells basically forever. In our home campaign, Wizards have to spend time and energy studying, practicing and learning new spells and that takes the form of the 2/level that they already get to add to their spellbook - the ability to automatically add anything else they come across is disregarded, though school specialists get an additional 1 school spell per level they may add as well (including @ 1st). That might seem limiting but Wizards still end up with customized spellbooks that contain an average 8 spells at 1st level and 40+ spells at 12th level (not including cantrips) which has proven more than adequate thus far.

One of the things I'm looking at are potential NPC's to accompany the group at various times - they're a 3-man party, so I like to take advantage of opportunities to give them a little extra firepower here and there. These are some of the things I'm considering:

Shalelu - I'm probably going to have her accompany the PC's to Thistletop perhaps coming across them as they are assembling outside the ruins, having tracked the goblins back there from Sandpoint. I am also, as the AP suggests, going to be having her come along to Fort Rannick during the Hok Mountain Massacre.

Brodert Quink - The group is very light on Knowledge skills and he makes for a great resource for GM exposition and the occasional red herring. I'm going to rebuild him as an Archivist Bard and have him interact with the PC's regularly, both as a researcher back home and even accompanying them on a few of their adventures - to the Lady's Light, for instance, which he would have always wanted to visit. He's basically going to be a non-combatant, but he should be able to provide some insights and some buffs that help out the group a great deal without risking overshadowing them.

Oriana - I don't know exactly how things are going to go down with her and the Grey Maidens, but ideally the PC's will 'liberate' her and a few of her comrades. I'm thinking about having them integrate with the PFS via Sheila Heidmarch and then make occasional reappearances.

There are a few others I'm eyeing right now, especially later in the game but at the end of the day, the goal is for the group to have between 0 and 2 NPC's adventuring with them in some form or fashion, and I'd like to mix it up a little bit along the way. I'm planning on having a pair of Druids move into Thistletop once its cleared and having them be an occasional resource as well (for instance). One of the things I'm really looking forward to is the giant's assault on Sandpoint, which I think I'm going to make a much, much bigger deal... kind of a 'gathering of heroes' where favored NPC's from all throughout the campaign up to that point show up to stand with the players. Should be very cool.

Fendy wrote:

I am (slowly) working on putting together a RotL campaign and would love to see more of your notes and plans for incorporating the Shattered Star into RotL, as well as any other adventures and changes you have made. It sounds extremely interesting and I think my players would greatly enjoy it.

That could get pretty detailed over an AP and a half - I'm still not sure how I'm going to chronicle it, whether I'll just post here as we go, telling what I changed and why or if I'm going to put together a website and track it in detail with concurrent player journals.

If there are any particular things or areas you want to discuss, feel free to ask anything and to offer up any ideas you might have in turn. Also, pm me any time if you prefer.

We start next Friday :)

Respectable Hobbit wrote:
The PCs opened the coin door that leads to the part of Thistletop where Malfeshnikor is... and then they turned around and left the dungeon, going all the way back to town. Does that mean Malfeshnikor is free to leave the dungeon? Does he get out and terrorize the countryside or just stay in his little room?

He is bound magically, not by the doors. If left to his own devices he'd probably try to reach out to any surviving goblins.

In our first run, the group missed a large section of the lower level of Thistletop, including...

...the shadows, the hermit crab and the treasury and Malfeshkinor himself, as well as having bypassed the Bunyip and the Tentamort.

I was planning on having a couple of druids eventually move into Thistletop once it was cleared out, so I had them approach the PC's about returning (through Shalelu) and helping them remove 'the evil they still sensed within'. I threw in a couple of harpies from the Cormorants inhabiting the upper level and it turned Thistletop into a second great dungeon with a very different feel from the first incursion.

Fenrick Talon wrote:

I'm running Rotrl now myself using Roll20. I have ported in all of the maps from the PDFs map folio. I'm actually using a client laptop hooked up to a 42 in screen laid flat on the table as a battle mat, and the players pass around a wireless mouse to move their tokens.

The host is on my second laptop which doubles as my gm screen. I subscribed for $5 a month to get the llight effects. It's all working slick so far.

I did buy in to the d20 pro kickstarter last month because the May release is going to have new features for touch screens to rotate the map.. Check that out. I'll be switching when it gets released.

You might become my go-to guy for this soon because that sounds perfect - would you mind if I pm'ed you on an 'as-needed' basis?

Fraust wrote:

I think on the initiative thing it's more beneficial to the martials to have the casters go first, so they can buff said martials, but that might just be the way I play casters :)

For some reason I was thinking you meant the deluxe version of roll20...makes a lot more sense now. Yeah, I've been thinking about picking that up...just need my student loans to arrive...

Ah, well here's hoping your players are well set on writing up individual journals.

There's only three of them and they seem pretty game for it. What I'm actually planning on doing is a lot of role-play via email - I'm a better writer than I am a play-actor, and in the 'down time' between sessions, I'll have emails for them each individually as well as for them as a group. I'm going to encourage them to print those exchanges out and add them to their journals so that each will be unique to their experiences.

We'll see. With such a small group I really want to go all out and I think those emails between sessions will go a long way towards keeping their head in it.

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