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Rough. IMO the game should have been held until the absent PCs could attend but that is how things roll at your table.
I am inclined to agree. The players were completely wrong imo for bailing out with little or no notice, but the result - at my table at least - would have been my telling the other players that they got bailed on, that there was no way I was running the conclusion to an 18 month AP without key members of the party present and that they should be pissed, but they should be pissed at the other players for wasting all of our time. If it was in the middle somewhere that would have been one thing, but the finale? It can wait.
That's just me. I don't know anyone involved so I can't fairly judge the call.
Personally, I like occasional encounters where the PC's simply have to run away, especially if they've been particularly dominant of late - pride goeth before the fall and all that. Too, I like the dynamic of PC's having to 'hold the line' against a superior foe rather than simply laying the smack down all the time.
Having said that, after the encounter in our run, the PC's presumed that such a major threat floating down main street clearly played an important role in the campaign and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to draw her out and engage her again, or worse yet, how to follow her into her underwater lair... I was tempted to try and tie it in to the sunken wreckage of the 'party barge' but at the end of the day it was too much work for the time I had available. In retrospect, knowing how my players reacted to it, I would have just written it out.
Besides, the giant snake encounter back-to-back with Black Magga seemed a bit redundant in theme and flavor anyway...
If you get this far:
If you do decide to make him from Runeforge, there's a clockwork librarian in the ancient library in Fortress of the Stone Giants. How awesome would it be for it to recognize him, or at the very least recognize his 'make and model' in some casual way?
It also begs for you to include a handful of similar warforged, perhaps even a legion of them, serving as bodyguards and servants in Xin-Shalast...
Taason the Black wrote:
It has everything to do with you rGM... which in turn often has everything to do with the rest of your players. A group of optimizers won't be fun for a pure role-player and vice-versa... hopefully you find a group where all of its members are somewhere in between...
Aaron Gillespie wrote:
I would think she would accelerate her efforts - imagine the drama of her being successful just as the PC's arrive...
Something you need to keep in mind - for recurring villains to be, well... recurring, they need to survive. That means most if not all of them need an 'out' to keep them from being easily slain. At higher levels this is a bit easier with access to things like Teleportation spells but at lower levels its a bit tougher. And to that end, I'd recommend that each time the two groups meet you have at least one of the baddies designated as expendable, so that the PC's feel like they're making progress even when most of the rest of the group escapes.
Another thing to consider is having a 'tweener' member of the villian's group, one that develops a fondness for one of the PC's or is with the bad guys due to unusual circumstances, someone that can create some grey area or betray their group... or perhaps one that enjoys being a double agent. Its definitely something to consider not having the sole interaction between the two groups be combat.
I ran a campaign once with a recurring 'rival' party and learned some very valuable lessons from that.
We tend to run pretty mature games - thematically, at any rate.
I switched the NPC relationships around a little bit. Tsuto was obsessed with his sister (sexually and otherwise) since she was the only person who was ever kind to him growing up and returned to Sandpoint to rescue her from its destruction... he was terrified of Nualia.
Lyrie and Nualia were lovers - Nualia was driven, Lyrie was just freaking crazy.
Orik was just about ready to wash his hands of the whole thing, but was afraid he'd be killed if he tried to leave.
Or, the typical modern version of the Dead Man Writing trope. In more modern settings, this is generally recorded as video or holography. What's the simplest way for a character to prepare an animated visual message for someone to view in the event of his demise?
My suggestion is to never limit yourself to spells written as the only options for magic. They make for a good selection for the PC's but over thousands of years over hundreds of cultures, I'm quite sure everything under the sun that can be done has been.
If its something an NPC wants to do, hand wave it without a second thought. If its something a PC wants to do and it doesn't provide any real mechanical benefit, let him research it and then do it as well.
I changed some of the NPC interactions/motivations as well.
I made Anevia and Irabeth a lesbian couple without all of the transgendered sex-changing potion backstory. Instead, Horgus was Anevia's father, one who severely opposed the match because he is concerned about having grandchildren whom could serve as heirs one day... and he's not overly fond of half-orcs - racial prejudices die hard. That made their interactions fairly easy to RP because the PC's were able to subconsciously fill in the blanks rather than chase down a lot of that convoluted backstory as-written.
Aravashnial was less imperious and more traumatized by his circumstances, the despair that the demons had worked so long to instill finally beginning to take root. The PC's - one in particular - spent a great deal of effort bringing him back from the edge. It made for some nice RP moments.
Lann I wrote in as an Archivist Bard to supplement the party, kind of like an NPC cohort run by me. He served as a representative of his people in Kenabres and then as a liaison between they and the mongrelman forces that aided the armies in later books. He's been a real pleasant surprise for us as a group thus far.
Well, here's what we did:
First off, one of our PC's is a Dragon Disciple and is in fact an offspring of Terendelev, one of a small group of them who have been gathered by him as a group of attendants and protégés in the fight against the evil they all face. He is, as far as he knows, the only one of them who survived the fall of Kenabres.
When the attack began, the four of them were in three separate groups (two are siblings and were together) not very far apart from each other. I ran a handful of small encounters against small home-brewed demons, a couple of cultists and the rescue of some citizens while greater battles took place nearby... they eventually ended up fighting together or assisting one another and, following the PC mentioned above, attempted to make their way to where Terendelev was battling the Storm King. They reached the battle just as the scene in the book takes place, and it was Terendelev's efforts to save his last remaining heir that caught them all up in the Feather Fall spell/collapse of the street into the tunnels below. While down in the tunnels I ran the encounters as listed with a few minor omissions (the cave viper and the abandoned temple).
I talked to the PC's once we were well into book Two and asked him what they thought about the changes I had made, compared to how it had been written and all of the input was positive. One thing though - we use automatic leveling, usually at the recommended points in the story, so balancing the XP from one encounter to the next isn't really a concern for us.
I also changed a number of NPC interactions and motivations.
FWIW, our group had a pretty impressive flagship as well, but it was more built for speed, maneuverability and hardiness, using the rules offered up in the Players Guide (to the OP - are you guys using the Players Guide to build your ship? If not, that might explain part of the problem and its available as a free download on this site). The thing about their ship was that it was part of an on-going storyline.
In our campaign Aron Ivey lived and eventually joined the crew as the ship's carpenter until the end of book two where he lost his leg and 'retired' and oversaw the construction of what would eventually be the PC's flagship. It took a very long time, hampered by sabotage at one point and didn't even make its first appearance until the big sea battle in book five (we switched around events in book five and six). In the meantime, the PC's were constantly funneling money towards its construction and they even had a side adventure performing a service for the Master of Gales who, in return, cast a Hallow spell on the ship to make it immune to teleportation by enemies and to give it fire resistance. They also had one of those animated figureheads.
The players invested a lot of game time and treasure into its construction and had to play the 'delayed gratification' game but in the end they felt it was completely worth it. By the time they actually got the ship, they were about 12th level and it was the kind of ship you'd expect 12th level characters to have - they had long since evolved past simple piracy by then.
After Hemlock left the PCs in charge of Sandpoint, Sir Swa (the gnomish cavalier), and Ze (the human Inquisitor of Pharasma/mortician) decided to go out on patrol. I planned to include the Chopper's Isle short adventure, and chose to forshadow some of it, as well as make Das Korvut a more sympathetic character than the "grouchy old man". Thus Sir Swa and Ze stumble upon an angry Korvut chasing off some children.
The 'Chopper's Isle' short adventure? Was this something published? Its the first I've heard of it...
No, it's a one shot encounter as written in the AP. You can do whatever you want with it.
This is correct... though I caution you as a GM against allowing your players to 'abuse crafting rules and find loopholes' particularly if it includes building some sort of massive indestructible war machine... its very likely to ruin the game for everyone.
Players have to be able to trust their GM to keep them from derailing an entire campaign - that's why, at the end of the day, you have all the power. Use it wisely and use all of the tools at your disposal... like perhaps reading through the entire AP first, so that you know which potential problems to head off before they get beyond any of you.
I can only speak from my experiences and based on our philosophy of game play.
First off, we don't allow the Leadership feat. If I find the group is in need of a particular role its a good opportunity either for me to supply an NPC that I can use to further the plot or its a good opportunity for the PC's to challenge themselves by overcoming that lack on their own. Sometimes my group has several NPC's traveling with them, sometimes they have none, but when they do its never as a second PC they get to manufacture and control. Destroys the sense of verisimilitude in my opinion. NPC's should have their own motivations, their own secrets and should be beyond the control of the PC's themselves.
Secondly, we also don't generally allow crafting feats in our campaigns. We tend to play a bit on the lower magic end as I feel (and my group generally agrees) that overuse of magic items can become a crutch, it robs us of the sense of wonder that should come with magic and all too often the game becomes about what people can buy rather than what they can do.
Now that's just me - we prefer our games to have a feel somewhere between Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings but I'm well aware that other people feel differently. There's no way to 'have fun wrong', but I would not allow the Leadership feat at my table and even if I did, it certainly would't be so that a character could have a pocket crafter.
In the festival raid and in the glassworks, though I only had four players, I was very free with the goblins. I had about a dozen 'goblin encounters' during the raid written up ranging from 2 to 6 goblins in each - 2 had cornered Shayliss, 6 were trying to burn down Goblinsquash Stables while Daviren Hosk fought them off and so on. I used them as an excuse to introduce a handful of NPC's and proceeded with the intention that whenever it looked like it was getting tough for the PC's, I'd just stop and go directly to the final encounter.
Kind of the same thing for the Glassworks - I started off with 8 in the main chamber and added a couple of waves of 4 more to bring in as needed in order to make sure the PC's were suitably challenged. The final wave turned and fled back down to Tsuto, effectively leading them to him... and as GM I reserve the right to run in another wave of four whenever and from wherever I deemed it appropriate - after all, the PC's have no way of knowing how many goblins there are, do they?
Have Tsuto face them in one of the hallways (I had it happen just outside of Ameiko's cell) to limit how many people they can bring to bear against him at any given time. In our campaign, he managed to escape after a timely stun, leaving goblin fodder behind him to run interference.
How would you feel as a GM, if a player did this to one of his enemies?
Hopefully, you'd be indifferent. Its a common sense tactic and its not as if the player is picking on you, he/she is just playing smart.
Goes both ways.
Trying to remember all of them... since I ran the campaign, some of the more memorable moments for me included our NPC's.
Very early on, after our Bard had made the mistake of following Shayliss back to her father's store, was subsequently caught and beaten within an inch of his life, he retreated back to the Rusty Dragon where Ameiko both teased him mercilessly and helped tend to his bruises while the other PC's were with Zantus, investigating the crypt. A few days later when Ameiko's father Lonjiku showed up and caused a stir, he rose to her defense and the fiercely independent Ameiko whirled on him and said 'Don't you have enough Daddy issues just now?'. It was a great line.
Our Bard is one of our heaviest role-players (natch), so he had a ton of involvement with the NPC's, including an interesting love triangle of sorts. He had gotten romantically involved with Ameiko after her rescue from the Glassworks, a romance that continued throughout the entire campaign. Shalelu and Ameiko were very close, and the elf had agreed to go with the group to Hook Mountain (and eventually beyond) to 'keep an eye on him' for Ameiko. Eventually the two had the opportunity to get romantically involved as well, and when the Bard started to resist due to his relationship with Ameiko, Shalelu laughed and said 'what - you think you're the first man Ameiko and I have shared..?'. It really caught him off-guard, as did what she said afterwards: '...though you just might be the first one we keep'. The look on his face was priceless.
Later on when they encountered Shalelu's adoptive father among the Black Arrows and upon introductions, he cast a stern, suspicious gaze towards the Bard... prompting the Bard's player through up his hands and say 'Does [I]everybody[/] have a *expletive* Dad???'
Much hilarity was had due to the very enthusiastic role-play of our Goblin group member who had the social graces of Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) and fought like Yoda (circa Ep II)... but two of his most memorable moments were actually in combat. His character build - Brawler with a dip in MoMS - was very tight and it really showed in two memorable moments.
One was during the giant's raid on Sandpoint when the party was split up at various points across town and he stood alone astride the southern-most bridge. Three Stone Giants saw him and laughed, approaching with the intention of sweeping him aside - and he killed one of them in a single round (with the benefit of a spectacular critical hit). The reaction of the other two giants was akin to that of the Knights of Monty Python when confronted by the white rabbit (JEE-ZUS CHRIST!) complete with running away to regroup.
Another was in Jorgenfist when they were being ambushed by that kobold barbarian (who's name escapes me). He followed her into the warrens which were too small for the medium-sized characters and we ran the combat behind closed doors, with the PC's hearing only noises emerging from the hole... until he wandered back out looking none the worse for wear - carrying her head in one hand.
I'll definitely revisit this thread as I'm sure more instances will occur to me.
To be honest, in my experience, the power disparity really doesn't become so problematic until 12th level or higher... E12 with a slow progression has always seemed an ideal balance for me - remember, casters suck pretty hard in the early going so there's nothing wrong in my opinion with letting them enjoy their power level a bit towards the latter part of the campaign.
Actually, if they'd killed the three giants at the Gate and then the giants and their dire bears in the second wave, that would fulfill one of the two requirements needed to call for a retreat. All they need do next is go after the leader (who just spent a bit of time at the Old Light digging through it) or kill/drive off Longtooth, and the Giants retreat.
That's assuming of course that you adhere rigidly to the book's text. I'm fine with allowing the 'rule of cool' to prevail and staying a bit more flexible for dramatic license.
Good clarification - not actively 'bisexual' but rather passively 'plotsexual', just like if their religion isn't listed then its open to the needs of the story, or where they were born and grew up.
Truth be told though, the nature of the game, even things explicitly stated are usually open to change. In our Wrath game, Irabeth and Anevia were a gay couple with a different backstory included; Anevia was actually Horgus' daughter and had been disowned by him due to her chosen mate and his desire for a grandchild/heir. It led to a nice reunion/reconciliation later. Likewise Aron and Sosiel were brothers - there don't seem to be enough major sibling NPC's in Paizo's publications and it worked well for our campaign.
The Fortitude bonus to marry three women, for one thing...
*makes 'L' sign*
You just didn't want me shackin' up with some hunky Barbarian...
I will be running RoW after my current campaign and my players are already asking what are the best classes to play. Without giving spoilers (as I want to direct my players to this thread), what have you found to be the most useful or useless classes for this campaign? I currently have four players.
We started Reign of Winter and got through the first book, but then Wrath of the Righteous came out and took immediate priority so that game was put on hold for a while... our party was made up of three Witches - all sisters - and the fourth a reach Invulnerable Barbarian that each sister claimed as a protector and husband. Each witch was built slightly different in accordance to their personality (Patrons: Time, Life and Death) and they shared a common Improved Familiar but other than that they were pretty standard. I know it was early going but we had an absolute blast with the characters as none of us had ever played a Witch before and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The reward is good will, allies and a home base from which they can proceed. The town of Sandpoint isn't wealthy at all so there's a limited financial reward available to them - and to be honest, to their mind they had weathered hardships and difficulties before the PC's arrived, and likely would after they were gone.
Respect and gratitude goes a long way in all but the most MMO of settings. There were some little tangible perks in our campaign however. They never once paid for a room or a meal at the Rusty Dragon though they did eventually build their own hall, never once did they pay for boarding their horses at Hosk's stables, the Sheriff and the Mayor looked the other way on some difficulties they got themselves into and on two different occasions they were allowed to borrow Father Zantus' Wand of Healing (custom item in our campaign).
Perhaps its just another way of looking at rewards. Every townsperson who looked up to them, befriended them or allied with them was much the same as a piece of treasure fought for and claimed. It might not spend quite the same way, but just as in the real world, not all rewards have a cash value.
When we ran this encounter, I wasn't overly fond with the implementation of the environmental effects of the Scribbler's lair, so I made a few changes. The way we handled it was that the walls were covered in writing that seemed to crawl and rearrange itself, to shift from one language to another, seemed at times to speak to the reader directly... the halls remained filled with mist - an Obscuring Mist in effect at all times unless the PC's did something to dissipate it and in those cases it reformed in 1d4 rounds.
Whenever combat was engaged, at the beginning of every round the PC's had to make a Will save at DC 22 or be affected as if by a Confusion spell with one caveat - instead of attacking the nearest creature if indicated by the roll, casters instead cast one random spell. If a PC made his or her save, he would be unaffected by the Confusion effect for the remainder of combat.
This replaced the Webs in area A1, the Fog as written, the Confusion effect and the Lost Doors. The Suggestion, the silent Alarms and Arcane Locks remained in place.
Captain Sakhbet "The Sandman" wrote:
Als, we were not quite so evil though we were anything but good. We did have some pretty intense stuff happen in our campaign though, and it set the tone for the entire AP.
During the Wormwood Mutiny, Scourge - who was played as a lecher and misogonist - raped one of our characters, the Seasinger Bard who later went on to be our captain. It served as a bonding moment for she and the other female player as well as with the female NPC's (Rosie and Sandara). They conspired to murder Scourge and did so successfully without being caught. Throughout the rest of the AP our captain would not tolerate the capture or sale of slaves nor the mistreatment of women in her presence.
This actually led to a great scene between she, Avinar Sorenash and our Barbarian during the feast on Island of Empty Eyes when the werewolf got handsy with one of the serving girls and she ordered our Master at Arms to 'put the dog out'. A duel that would become the stuff of legend ensued.
Great idea for a thread though.
I agree about the mongrelmen. I had two accompany the PCs as a reward for doing the right things in Neatholm. But the Garrison is crowded and too easy. Also the mongrelmen have good ACs, HPs and saves. They are tougher than most of the opponents in there.
We have four PC's who can all lay the wood in combat AND cast spells, but they are a little light on non-social skills... so I made the first mongrelman they meet into a non-Mythic Archeologist and had him accompany the PC's as a sort of GM PC and liason/spokesman for his people, completely replacing the mongrelman ranger cohorts. I'm not using the mythic rules, but rather accelerating the PC's advancement a bit to compensate while keeping him on the standard advancement track to lag behind. He's effective enough in combat to keep himself from being killed but apart from a handful of buff or healing spells, he doesn't spike their effectiveness to any real degree.
I just have to throw out there, Skull n Shackles was my and my groups most favorite AP and we played through it with three humans and a half-elf. Every time I see parties stocked with undines and gillmen and merfolk I feel like I'm seeing meta gaming specifically designed to rob the group of the core unique challenge of the AP. I would strenuously suggest that you discourage aquatic races as it will bring up all kinds of fractures within the group dynamic and devalue the unique appeal of this adventure.
Yan Grorson wrote:
My PCs just wrapped up burnt offerings, and the Lawful members of the party decided that Orik needed to be taken back to Sandpoint and tried for his allegiance to Nualia and her gang. I am wondering if anyone else has seen this, or if you have any good ideas for how the trial might pan out. How are trials in Sandpoint even decided?
.What wrongdoings, exactly, do the PC's have evidence of? Living in the same place as someone evil? Taking money as a paid mercenary and being kept in the dark as to his employer's greater purpose? Fighting back against the 'lawful' invaders who attacked his home and began killing indiscriminantly?
Nualia, sure, but Orik is a bit of a reach in my opinion as written.
In our game he was Charmed by our Sorcereress and fought alongside the PC's, eventually taking some pay and heading out on his own. The PC's encountered him later at Turtleback Ferry...
FWIW, the Druids were a Storm Druid (half-elf) and a Packlord (Dwarf), niether optimized for combat. I had them make their first appearance as acquaintances of Madame Mvashti (who is known to associate with druids from the hinterlands). The PC's had failed to find Malfeshnekor and hadn't discovered or bothered to clear Thistletop of its non-humanoid denizens (the shadows, the giant hermit crab, the bunyip and the tentamort). I didn't want them to miss out on that bit of adventure and I liked the idea of Thistletop being occupied so I introduced this pair who commissioned the PC's aid in clearing out the ruins as well as their assistance in ferretting out the 'evil they sensed lurking still within'.
I ran them like an old married couple, albeit an odd-couple, always arguing about this or that, but absolutely unified when it came to a greater purpose. They served as wardens of sorts for the lands around Sandpoint though they only made appearances rarely, being more sort of eccentric hermits.
Story Archer, that's a thing of beauty. My players are VERY emotionally invested in the people of Sandpoint, and consider Cyrdak and Jasper to be honorary party members (and sometimes guest PCs), so either one of those two dying would WRECK them. So I'll keep that in mind when they get to this point :)
Thanks. I was rather proud of the orchestration of the whole thing.
After Skull n Shackles, this was our very favorite AP. I'm trying to put together a journal from our notes that'll take people step by step through our entire campaign, but its taking a while and I'm not 100% sure that there is demand for yet another RotRL journal...
I'm getting ready for Stones Over Sandpoint, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on how it went for your group... tips... shortcomings... favorite/least favorite parts, etc. Thanks!
I'd recommend that you use the round-by-round progression as a guideline rather than a rigid schedule. You want the raid to be hectic, dramatic and exciting... you don't want your PC's arriving too late for everything because you had to stick to the countdown.
As for us, our group consisted of:
Human 9th level Arcane Duelist / 2nd level Divine Hunter
Human 10th level Invulnerable Rager & Urban Barbarian / 1st level Unbreakable Fighter
Kitsune 11th level Sorceress (Fey)
Goblin 9th level Brawler / 2nd level Master of Many Styles
The group also had with them a leveled up Shalelu (2nd level Fighter / 8th level Ranger) whom had taken Giants as her second favored enemy after Hook mountain.
Looking at the group, I judged the threat facing Sandpoint inadequate, so I added a giant to some of the encounters and put in a handful of roving gangs of local Ogres whom had been pressed into service (three groups of 2-3 which could be encountered anywhere in the city once it had been breached, using the 5th level Ogre Fighters found on page 149 of the Anniversary Ed.). I also boosted Teraktinus, giving him another 4 levels of Ranger, including the feats Improved Two-Weapon Fighting and Iron Will and Improved Iron Will. I really wanted him to be a challenge and it was my hope that enough of the raiding party would survive that the PC's could pursue them once they had fled with several notable NPC's as captives. This is how the battle went:
The PC's arrived in Sandpoint a little more than a week before the attack thanks to the Sorceress's newly acquired Teleportation spell. They enjoyed a good relationship with Deverin, Hemlock and Zantus and as such were able to convince them of the threat that faced Sandpoint. Word was sent to Magnimar in the hopes of getting help as well as to the Druids of Thistletop with whom the PC's were allied (6th level druids, a half-elf and a dwarf, whom had claimed Thistletop as their own with the aid of the PC's). Contingency plans were made including a couple of ships commandeered to evacuate the old and the young by sea beyond rock-throwing range should the attack come and eventually to Thistletop if necessary. The townsfolk began organizing themselves into groups to defend their homes - a few with class levels were appointed as leaders and given specific responsibilities but it was understood that the bulk of the fighting should fall on the PC's. Ameiko at the Dragon and Zantus at the Cathedral would serve as collection points for the wounded. Signals via Silent Image flares were set up to alert the PC's to areas that were under attack.
When the attack came, aid had yet to arrive from Magnimar but the Druids had come and it was they, speaking with animals, whom had detected the giant's approach and were able to give some warning. The Bard and Shalelu were positioned at the Northgate, the Barbarian and the Druids were at Tanner's Bridge while the Goblin and the Sorceress were at the bridge to the south.
The Northgate Siege
Chaos at Tanner's Bridge
Beer or Death
Looting the Scarnetti Manor
Back at the Northgate Siege when Longtooth appears the giants charge, accompanied by another band of the Ogres. The fighting is hot there and it's not until one of the Ogres (defeated by Sandpoint guardsmen led by Sir Jasper Korvaski) and two of the Giants are slain that the assault relents and the remaining Giant and ogres flee back into the woods. This ties up Shalelu and the Bard for most of the battle. Afterwards they rush to the aid of those gathered at the Cathedral and attempt to put out the fires there.
Meanwhile the Goblin, the Sorceress and her surviving Stone Giant thrall, the Barbarian and the two Druids all meet up at the Sandpoint Theater just before Longtooth alights upon it. He breathes fire upon the theater and snatches up a defiant Cyrdak, gobbling him down. The Sorceress attempts a Hold Monster spell upon him (not knowing Dragons are immune to paralysis) but it fails and Longtooth takes off again to fan the flames with his wings, just as the third group of Ogres enters the square and the PC's are forced to deal with them. He circles once and heads towards the seaward side of town.
Once the Ogres are defeated, it becomes clear that Longtooth has headed for the docks and the PC's, fearful for the evacuees helpless aboard ship at sea, race down to confront the Dragon there. They find him facing down a brave group of guardsmen led by Kaye Teserani and her bodyguards whom had been in charge of one of the evacuation groups. The refugees were unable to board their ship and are now trapped at the burning docks with the guardsmen attempting to buy them time to flee. Longtooth breathes fire on two of the three bodyguards and another guardsman, killing them just as the PC's join the battle. The Barbarian, the Goblin and the Dominated Giant all charge the beast. They manage to injure him enough to drive him off for good, but not before the Giant is killed and the Barbarian severely wounded enough that only the intervention of the Druid's healing manages to save him.
Teraktinus meanwhile manages to stone from the Lost Light and escapes the town with his three Stone Giants, meeting up with the survivors from the gate (a Stone Giant and two Ogres) as well as those who had successfully raided the Scarnetti Manor (three Stone Giants) and the group begins its trek back to Jorgunfist. They've captured a number of townspeople, including Titus Scarnetti himself, Banny Harker from the Lumber Mill, the jeweler Maver Kesk and his wife Pennae as well as Ven Vinder. Once the fires are gotten under control, the PC's are alerted to the fact that the townsfolk were taken prisoner and immediately organize to give chase.
There were some nice dramatic moments in the aftermath of the attack. Shayliss was almost inconsolable, begging the PC's to rescue her father (who hated them), Sir Jasper Korvaski being hailed as a hero for his efforts at the wall only to discover the death of his lover Cyrdak, the lone surviving Shoanti warrior whom Kaye employed at the Pixie's Kitten enacting tribal burial rites and morning rituals for the other two whom were his brothers and so on. I really wanted to impress upon the PC's the loss the town had endured because I felt it would make the rescue of those taken that much more urgent and the rewards of returning them to their families that much greater.
We actually started Shattered Star but had to put the session on hold due to real-time duties for a couple of our players... the scenario you describe was my favorite part of campaign up to that point. We didn't have anyone who was 'body-dependent' in the way the OP describes, but we did have an interesting dynamic...
One of our players made an Enchantress who idolized Sorshen to the point of obsession (she was played by a female bi-sexual player) and another was a male Brawler who built his character as a sort of body-guard/servant of the enchantress, his love for her destined to go unrequited and his stoic acceptance of her callous indifference his cross to bear. I got so excited when they introduced those two characters because I knew immediately what I had to do... the Brawler was the one who got the 'new form' and reappeared amongst the group some time after everyone was certain he had died in battle (I didn't have to fudge to get that timely death but I'm almost ashamed to admit that I would have if I'd had to, and to keep the pretense up we even pretended to make a new character). The result was an incredibly entertaining bit of role-reversal where the female player became fawning and the (quite discombobulated) Brawler began to doubt whether she had been worthy of his devotion for so long.
.Pick a select few - perhaps one per NPC - and really put some work into them. Flesh out their personalities, make them integral to the story somehow, make them the 'go-to' guy for the group when they need (blank).
Ameiko, Hemlock and Zantus should be no-brainers as NPC's the PC's deal with regularly. Tie-in's take place in the opening chapter. Added to that, for us, Shayliss and her father Vinder, Jubrayl Vhiski, Brodert Quink, the horsemaster Hosk and Madam Mahavsti (sp?) were the 'major players' in our campaign with everyone else for the most part being faces in the crowd and even those select few took their time developing.
Trying to throw all of Sandpoint at the PC's will be too much and end up homogenizing all of your encounters. Choose some favorites, make them relevant, and have some fun.
The desire to actually get a chance to use those capstone abilities was a major factor in our deciding against using the Mythic rules in Wrath of the Righteous. We're following a scheme where the PC's will level at what would have been mythic tiers 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 meaning that at the end the characters will be 26th level.
We're all looking forward to it.
Having said that, I know the guys who do our builds look completely differently at characters designed for specific levels of play than for 1-20.
I would think the biggest 'land mine' you would have to worry about is prepping for the mythic rules. It's a different set of variables, a good bit of extra book-keeping and gives the PC's options you might not be ready for. Ditto mythic foes though to a lesser extent.
We chose to use a different option over the mythic rules and this far it's worked just fine.
The rest to me is just personal preference stuff. I put low level demons and fiendish creatures in the warrens instead of some of the encounters presented. I'm going to hand wave the mass battles and alter or replace a few of the NPC's. Make sure you have a handle on how you want your PC's campaign traits to resolve themselves in book 3. There's much more potential there IMO than the generic way it's presented.
Just my 2 cents.
We have had some adult situations in our games as well as some pretty intense moments - the most being during the Wormwood Mutiny when one of our female players was raped. Now its never role-played in explicit detail, the 'good' sex nor the bad and its never gratuitous or without purpose germaine to the story. As well, we're a group of adult players who are very open with what we find acceptable to us at the table and what isn't. I was running the SnS game (I'm a woman) and if I had not felt that the player of the character raped (also a woman) wouldn't have been 100% alright with that scenario, I never would have considered it. As it happened, it and the actions taken after in revenge were transformative for the character and player both and went a long, long way towards defining the direction the game went. The other female player and two female NPC's colluded to murder the perpetrator (Scourge) and pulled it off amazingly - I still get chills thinking about Sandara whispering in the pirate's ear exactly what Besmara was going to do to him as he bled out... The male players went from seeing the new girl as an add-on to revering her and that moment and its aftermath is still talked about.
We've had other adult scenarios as well. The characters we made for Reign of Winter (on hold for a while with Wrath of the Righteous out now) were three sisters (all members of a witch's coven) who shared a single husband (barbarian). Rise of the Runelords as written had plenty of gruesome moments, especially in the first two books and in Wrath there's going to have to be some moments which are suitably 'demonic' to keep the theme and feel of the campaign alive. By and large though, while we take our gaming seriously, it tends to have a lot more light-hearted and even comedic moments than that sort of drama... we try for a Game of Thrones 'feel' but often fall short simply due to being doofuses of the highest order.
As always, the answer to the question how far is too far resides within the shared opinions and maturity level of the group. To this end consideration and communication are paramount. I'll never forget walking out of the movie Rob Roy marvelling to my girlfriend over how amazing the rape scene with Jessica Lange was, how powerful it had been and how brilliantly performed... until I discovered that she (my girlfriend) had once been raped and that scene for her had been anything but entertainment. It taught me a valuable lesson that I try to carry over into my gaming.
(because while I want to run it, I also want to play it--this AP whole-heartedly embraces every cliche about fantasy that I LOVE)
Agree completely with this sentiment - don't know if I wanted to run it more or play it more... and I prefer to think of those 'cliches' as 'classic'. Dragons, demons, good vs. evil, epic battles on both a massive and a personal scale, fallen heroes and risen villains seeking redemption... and not a firearm in sight.
Exactly how large are the scales? I would think given Terendelev's age and statute they'd be buckler sized at least... certainly no smaller than a dinner plate?
REALLY excited about the spoiler btw as one of my players has decided to be the sole survivor (?) of a small cadre of Terendelev's offspring and inheritors being groomed for the Crusades when Kenebres falls. Should make for some dramatic moments.
I'm planning on having the scales all work for him and only for him, but only once each per day. They should serve as an excellent focus for his eventual pursuit of the Dragon Disciple prc.
Players who over-specialize and build characters with achilles heels or glaring areas of weakness deserve to have those weaknesses exposed from time to time - ditto groups who don't take proper precautions to shore up those weaknesses.
Having said that, I try to keep such effects to a minimum (not non-existent) unless I have a party which makes extensive use of such effects themselves. Ditto summoning effects and the abuse of certain feat combos. If a player exploits something, he or she opens the door for NPC's to exploit it as well.
Jubrayl played a big role in our campaign early on, in large part due to one of our character's choice of campaign traits.
She made a Kitsune Sorcerer (Fey bloodline) who's heritage was a mystery even to her given that Kitsune would be so rare in that part of the world. She had been taken in by the Scarzni at an early age as a misfit and a misanthrope, and had spent most of her youth learning to hide the fact that she wasn't human (level 1 feat - Realistic Likeness). She had been 'passed along' to Jubrayl in payment of a debt from another gang, and was considered a valuable asset given her ability to change her appearance at will and cast powerful charms and sleep spells. She had been in Sandpoint for a few weeks by the time the Swallowtail Festival took place and had already proven her worth to Jubrayl, though he used her 'mongrel' status as a means to keep control of her.
With the events of the goblin raid, she got swept up and became a 'Hero of Sandpoint', something Jubrayl at first thought to use, but then decided it was a bad idea due to her sudden visibility. Moreover, for the first time in her life she wasn't being shunned or treated like a valued pet, but as an actual hero worthy of respect. Combine that with the fact that another PC took a romantic interest in her and witnessed Jubrayl's verbal abuse and all of a sudden the Scarzni were losing a valuable asset. Even worse, Jubrayl feared that she might turn on him and reveal what she knew. His threat of exposing her questionable heritage kept her from doing just that until after Burnt Offerings, although the PC whom had expressed interest in her was jumped by some thugs of Jubrayl's and warned to keep away from her.
The group learned of her racial background when she fell victim to the Vargouille's kiss from the Catacombs of Wrath - Father Zantus was able to heal her with a scroll of Cure Disease when the symptoms manifested themselves in the night, and he and the PC's agreed to keep her secret.
Things came to a head between Burnt Offerings and The Skinsaw Murders. The PC's had decided to purchase the land of Choppers Isle and build a shared hall and dwelling there - once the Skinsaw Murders began, Jubrayl began spreading rumors that the PC's had awoken the Chopper's spirit, that they were in league with the monster. He used Ven Vinder's emotional state (Shayliss was kidnapped by Aldern in a 'Lust' plot twist not long after her sister was killed) and the suspicious nature of a few others to turn public opinion against the PC's. He hoped to discredit them and drive their interference from the town, culminating on a group of the townsfolk marching on their hall, torches in hand, demanding that the PC's leave. It was there that Jubrayl played his trump card, exposing the Kitsune as a 'monster' who had taken human form in order to hide amongst them.
Hemlock, Zantus and the Mayor interceded, but it was Ameiko who held the crowd at bay, telling a story (Bardic Fascinate) of the werefoxes from her homeland, as told to her by her mother when she was very young, and of the luck and protection they brought with them. Eventually the crowd was dispersed, but the event served as a great incentive for the PC's to figure out who was truly behind the murders.
Much later, after Ironbriar was revealed, the PC's returned to Sandpoint and had a showdown with Jubrayl, resulting in his death and the arrest of many of his gang members. All in all, he was a very useful NPC.
In our campaign, due in part to the PC's effectiveness, I made use of many more goblins than are included in the book, especially during the raid and as made mention of during the 'impending' raid.
I see absolutely nothing wrong with either 1) letting the PC's go out and find some goblin village to attack or to encounter a goblin war party or raiding party, representing the increased goblin activity in the area or 2) setting the PC's go out and find some abandoned goblin villages, suggesting that the goblins are gathering somewhere.
At that level, the PC's are hardly infallible trackers, and while they maintain the belief that they have the freedom to go anywhere and do anything, the truth is they only encounter what you put before them.
There's also nothing wrong with speeding up the Glassworks encounter either. Shalelu's visit could even take place after they deal with the glassworks, pieces of the puzzle coming together after the fact rather than beforehand. Hemlock's departure from the town could happen as soon as the day after the goblin attack, owing to the need to bring in more soldiers from Mangimar, at least temporarily, if only to replace what was lost during the raid.
captain yesterday wrote:
as written nualia hasnt yet figured out how to open the pillar door that seperates E5 and the areas of E8 thru E10, also E10 has arcane lock (CL20th) but can be opened via key in E9. All that said considering they both are followers of lamashtu there is no reason malfeshnekor wouldnt help her out in exchange for some sort of favor
.That's what it was. That's exactly right.
I'm going through our game notes from a while back, thinking about putting together a nice journal from beginning to end - I remember now that I was setting up something for later and I wanted Nualia to have just discovered Malfeshkenor but not yet freed him. Thanks for the reminder.