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Story Archer's page

801 posts. Alias of Wiggz.


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boombrakh wrote:

So, I don't know how common or uncommon this is, but my players prefer it if I cast them for my campaigns. What that means is that I present a setting for them, a cast to choose from and brief back stories for the characters they get to choose from. We come from a very "internal conflict heavy" background when it comes to roleplaying and quite a few campaigns have gone south on account of the group simply deciding that they can't work together. To remedy this, they've asked for a reason beyond their control as to why they are striving for the same goal.

Last run at this, they were all from the same generational dwarven family. You had the retired patriarch grandfather, his daughter, the new "leader", her husband and their two children. It worked out pretty well for as long as it did and now it is time to start anew and this time, it is time for RotRL.

What I am considering this run is sort of a Carnivalé (the show) inspired Varisian traveller group. It will be a rather large group composed of around twenty members where the players (4-5 of them) will get to choose from around half of them. The rest will be NPCs of higher level than one who'll all serve some kind of purpose.

The varisians have made camp outside Sandpoint on account of the festival in order to make some coin and to enjoy themselves. They'll get caught up in events and encouraged by their leaders who seem to have a secret agenda as to why aid the town.

Now, I am making this thread because there are a couple of issues I don't know how to tackle.

For example, how should I deal with a group of five players? I had a problem with the Dwarf group where a combination of too many points to buy ability scores and five players made each and every encounter too easy. I am not above having easy encounters, I loathe having encounters for the sake of having encounters because I want a conflict to actually mean something. In this case, they just ended up being a time waste. How do you adjust the game for more than four players?

Some thoughts...

RotRL can be pretty tough, so you shouldn't have too tough a time adjusting encounters - honestly, if you max out boss hit points and keep an 'extra wave' of mooks in your back pocket you should be fine.

The group is going to need a reason 'beyond their control' to get involved in the troubles and actually pursue them, not just around town but all across Varisia. My initial thoughts are twifold - first off, the carnival could be the victims of the goblins, with many of their tents, carts, supplies, etc. set on fire and lost - it won't be until next season until they can 'move on' and that's only if they can get the coin together. The leader of the caravan can 'prompt' them to work with the Mayor and the Sheriff and provide them investigative services in return for the coin they need to get back on their feet, as well as to ingratiate them with the locals. Whether or not that's the real reason is of course up to you. Having a 'boss' they have to answer will go a long way towards getting them all on the same page.

Dwarves are particularly well-wuited to this AP. I like themed groups a great deal, more than those which might be technically 'balanced'. Sounds like you're going to have a lot of fun.

Zebbie wrote:
Fenrick Talon wrote:
The first main change is I’m going to have the Paradise NOT be sunk. There should be ample opportunities for roleplaying in Turtleback Ferry. Mission one will be getting onto the Paradise, which will be a large gambling boat. I’m planning on a dramatic confrontation with Lucrectia there (she’ll have at least half a dozen well-armed body guards) plus fifty or so townsfolk caught in the crossfire. I’m planning on having the boat be primed to burn (guards pouring oil outside) so when the fight breaks out, so does the fire. Imagine the chaos of screaming gamblers trying to get out (possibly with the doors barred if the setup works) and a dramatic showdown as the boat burns. If she escapes, she will flee back to Hook Mountain, if not no worries. The party still has plenty to do.
I am working on a version of almost this myself. If you could, please let me know how it goes? what worked well, what you would change and any highlights. All in All... any in-sight would simply be helpful.

Seconding this request. Turtleback Ferry is definitely going to be the most significant part of my re-write for that volume. I'm planning on having the PC's reunite with a down-on-his-lick Orik among other things. Any discussion on ideas would be good.

Might be worthy of its own thread.

Latrecis wrote:

What are the prerequisites for the Grognard prestige class again? I may have unwittingly taken levels...

Haladir is nicer than I am. I had the zombies out and about from the get-go. They didn't make much sense to me as color (not very interesting in my view trapped in pits.) My players made two assaults on the Catacombs and the zombies took the roles of the sinspawn in the second attack. Great fun.

I ended up rebuilding that room so that the cells were actually more akin to prison cages rather than pits... I put a half-dozen zombies or so in some of them and had a pair of Sinspawn tormenting them with their glaives when the PC's arrived. It made for a dynamic encounter area because I ruled that anyone ending their turn adjacent to a cage (PC or Sinspawn) would be subjected to an attack by whatever zombie or zombies were inside of it. The room was redesigned to force the issue a little, especially against foes with reach weapons.

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the Lorax wrote:

Awesome Story Archer - Looks like you've borrowed from Gluttony's plan for the attack on Sandpoint (which I planned to borrow as well).

I see you have Shayliss listed as a Initiate of Desna (cleric 2).
What's the story there?

Actually I hadn't seen it - I've kind of been away from the boards lately, but I'll keep an eye open.

I originally set up a scenario where Aldern was infatuated with Shayliss and she was infatuated with a PC, so coquettish young thing that she was she used Alderns affections in a bid to make the PC jealous, not realizing she was playing a dangerous game. Meanwhile I had Tsuto's infatuation be with his half-sister Ameiko (Lannister style), and his return to Sandpoint intended to save the only person he ever felt loved him. It was images and thoughts of Ameiko that filled his diary, not Nualia.

When Aldern left town and the PC made it clear that it was Ameiko he was interested in, the scorned Shayliss continued to keep in touch with Foxglove through secret correspondence and eventually became smitten by the man who would become the beast. During the Skinsaw Murders notes were left scrawled on for the PC as Aldern boasted that 'she would be his forever'... in one of my more clever efforts (if I do say so myself) this was all deliberately set up to create the red herring that somehow Tsuto had returned from the dead and was seeking to reunite with his sister. With that thought, Ameiko joined the PC's on their trip to the farm, thinking to confront her brother after all - when they found the key to Foxglove Manor all the tumblers fell into place and they realized their mistake. They raced back to town only to find Shayliss gone.

The trip to the Misgivings became a rescue mission and by the time they found her, Shayliss was already in the grip of ghoul fever. Priests of Desna in Magnimar managed to cure the girl and traumatized as she was, they found a worthy acolyte in her when she returned to Sandpoint under Father Zantus' care.

Btw - appropriately enough, Aldern was carrying the Shard of Envy, just as Nualia had been carrying the Shard of Wrath.

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I ran Rise once before and you can see how our raid went in a thread devoted to that subject below... but now that I'm running it a second time, this time as part of a larger mash-up which includes several of the Shattered Star volumes, I'm approaching it a completely different way. I'm really looking forward to it and I think my players are going to love it, so I figured I'd share my idea with you guys in case it inspired some of your own...

Warning - there are some spoilers for both Rise and Star here, though all of my own alterations likely make most of them unrecognizable.

First, a little set-up: at this point in the campaign the group has acquired four of the Shards and the forces of Karzoug have come to realize both the threat they present and the fact that they have in their possession several of the much sought-after Shards. The raid in this case isn't with the intent to grab some cornerstone, but rather to sack the town, razing it to the ground if necessary and to liberate the Shards for their master. As such it is a much, much bigger raid which includes many more giants and a sizable force of Ogres as well.

In response, circumstances are going to conspire to deny them aid from Magnimar, but its going to serve as an opportunity for a number of NPC's from earlier in the campaign to show up and 'lend a hand'. I'll likely be running this with three PC's at the time, and what I've done is set up a series of scenarios during the battle where they not only get to play their characters but also many of the NPC's they've enjoyed up to this point. Some of the fights will be challenging, some will be impossible and may well lead to the tragic - or heroic - deaths of the beloved townsfolk. Here is a sampling of what I intend:

Encounter One: Defense of the Main Gate
PC (Half-Elven 10th level Spirit Summoner)
Shalelu Andosan (Elven 8th level Archery Ranger) as a PC
Ameiko Kaijitsu (Human 5th level Geisha/2nd level Noble) as a PC
The PC in question is in the middle of a pleasant little love-triangle between Ameiko and Shalelu, and is considering a marriage proposal from them both together, made on the eve of battle. Along with Sheriff Hemlock (Human 5th level Tactician Fighter) and a dozen of the town guards (Warrior 2), they will defend the Main Gates from a force of six Stone Giants and three Ogres and an Ogre Brute.

Encounter Two: Battle at the Bridges
PC (Human 10th level Witch)
Aberforth (Dwarven 6th level Druid from Thistletop) as a PC
Gaius (Half-Elven 6th level Druid from Thistletop) as a PC
The two Druids moved into Thistletop after aiding the PC's in finally clearing it of the evil that inhabited it, intending to use it as a base to establish a new Circle. They, along with a half dozen town guards (Warrior 2) battle a force of three Hill Giants and two Dire Bears who attempt to ford the river.

Encounter Three: At the Cathedral
Father Zantus (Human 5th level Cleric of Desna)
Initiate Shayliss (Human 2nd level Cleric of Desna)
Brother Keller Rinn (Human 3rd level Cleric of Sarenrae)
The members of the Clergy use the Cathedral as a gathering place for the wounded, while under the protection of a half dozen town guards (Warrior 2), and are menaced by a quartet of marauding Ogres. This battle ends when the Dragon arrives, sending everyone into a panic and fleeing towards the town's 'fall-back' position, the ships ready to carry non-combatants at the docks out to sea.

Encounter Four, part one: Not my Theater!
Cyrdrakk Drokkus (Human 5th level Celebrity Bard) as a PC
Cyrdrakk faces down the Dragon who lands with the intention of burning his theater to the ground. Its very unlikely this encounter will end well for the popular showman.

Encounter Four, part two: Looting the Library
Brodert Quink (Human 5th level Archivist Bard) as a PC
Jessalyn (Human 4th level Sorceress) retired PC run by former Player
Jessalyn was a young PC who took a shine to Brodert and 'retired' her character after Thistletop to look after the old man and lose herself in his books... the former Player will get a second, unexpected opportunity to play her old character as Brodert insists on protecting his shop from the fires that have begun to rage, joined by two town guards (Warrior 2) when a pair of Ogres intent on looting happen upon them.

Encounter Five: Patrolling the Streets
Sheila Hiedmarch (Human 11th level Arcanist) as a PC
Daverin Hosk (Human 2nd level Ranger/4th level Commoner) as a PC
Ven Vinder (Human 3rd level Brawler/3rd level Commoner) as a PC
Ven and Daverin have become favorites of the group and will be played by the male PC's - Ven by the very same PC who bounced his butt out of his shop way back in Burnt Offerings when caught canoodling with his daughter. Daverin and Ven are in awe of the 'fine lady' from Magnimar and offer to serve as her guards as she moves through the streets. They encounter two Stone Giants and a pair of Ogres whom have come up from the South.

Encounter Six: Patrolling the Streets
PC (Human 10th level Chosen One Paladin)
Oriana (Human 8th level Unbreakable Fighter) as a PC
Nualia (Aztlantian 7th level Magus) as a PC
Oriana was encountered in Curse of the Lady's Light, the same place where Nualia finally redeemed herself by giving her life to protect the party - only to be reborn in the 'trap' that is Sorshen's clone. She has since become a Magus and she and Oriana have become very, very close. The two arrive from Korvosa on the eve of the battle, having heard of their former comrades plight and determined to be of aid. This will be the toughest battle, the three of them against the Giant leader and the main part of his force whom used the other skirmishes as a distraction to enter the city. At various points in the battle, the surviving PC's/NPC's from Encounter One and Encounter Two will join them in an epic fight.

Encounter Seven: To the Docks
The PC's and some of their surviving NPC's rush to the docks, aware that the townspeople will not be safe from the dragon aboard ship... there a showdown with the dragon takes place, their first real match-up with one in the campaign.

Encounter Eight: After Them!
This final encounter will be written as a race of sorts - several Ogres and Giants who fled the battle took with them some loot and, more importantly, a number of prisoners including some of the surviving NPC's - it will be up to those who are left (and able) to pursue and rescue them while the rest of the town is still in shock over their ordeal.

Of course this is just a brief overview (well, as brief as it could be) with plenty of details left sketchy, but that's the basic idea. I think its going to be a unique challenge and a lot of fun.

gustavo iglesias wrote:

Rise of Runelords and Shattered Star.

Even better: a mashup campaign mixing RoRL and ShSt :)

Ours has been absolutely stellar... its amazing how seamlessly some of those volumes can be made to fit together.

I do need to get around to updating our website though :-/

I thought the Shards were too generic, especially for the mash-up campaign I'm running, so I rebuilt them, making the more powerful as well as more dangerous. A few notes before the specifics:

Anyone carrying a Shard (in their hand, in a pouch, backpack, whatever) falls under its effects. Those effects will linger 24 hours or until the next 'extended rest' after the Shard has been relinquished or passed on. It will not become attuned to its new bearer until its effects have faded from the previous one.

Being under the effects of two Shards at once Sickens the bearer for as long as those effects last. Being under the effects of three Shards Nauseates the bearer for as long as those effects last. Being under the effects of four or more Shards renders the character unconscious.

After the group finds their third Shard, Sheila Heidmarch furnishes them with a magical chest to carry them in. It appears and functions as a normal chest unless its activated - upon activation it opens into an extra-dimensional space with a felt-lined tray designed to hold up to all seven pieces. When a Shard is placed into the chest, its current effects immediately end. Also, unknown to the PC's...

...Sheila can access the contents of the chest from its twin which she keeps with her in Magnimar as a safeguard against something unfortunate befalling the group.

The 'new and improved' Shards of the Shattered Star:

Shard of Wrath/Evocation:
Whenever the bearer takes damage or is the target of a hostile spell they enter a rage-like state, gaining +4 STR, +4 CON, -2 AC and the Pounce ability. They must focus their attacks on the individual who triggered the Rage and any who seek to bar their way. Once that foe has been defeated, or if the foe cannot be engaged, they continue to attack the nearest creature for as long as they are under the effects of the Rage. They may make a DC 20 Will save every round to end the Rage, and once it ends they are Fatigued as per am Barbarian's Rage.

Shard of Envy/Abjuration:
Whenever any single-target spell targets someone within 30' of the bearer, it targets the bearer instead, even if they would normally be out of range of the spell (including touch spells). Whenever any spell is cast that targets multiple individuals has a target within 30' of the bearer it affects the bearer as well, even if to do so would exceed the spell's number of targets or the bearer would be beyond the spell's range or area of effect. The bearer must be aware that the spell is being cast but does not need to be able to identify the spell. Saving throws, resistances and immunities apply as normal

Shard of Lust/Enchantment:
Whenever the bearer first encounters someone whom they could be sexually attracted to, they are immediately targeted by a Charm spell (Will DC 20) towards that individual. Whenever anyone who could be sexually attracted to the bearer first encounters them, they likewise fall under the effects of a Charm spell (Will DC 20). The duration of these effects are permanent, but each affected person gets an additional save each time they have sex with the other. Once the save is successful, they are immune to the Shard's effects toward that individual thereafter.

Shard of Gluttony/Necromancy:
The bearer may use Vampiric Touch (caster level = character level) and Death Knell (Will DC 20) as spell-like abilities at will. They gain vulnerability to positive energy, taking damage rather than being healed by it and like undead cannot benefit from Raise Dead or Reincarnate spells.

Shard of Pride/Illusion:
Whenever the bearer makes a successful attack roll or saving throw, he rolls twice thereafter when making an attack or save and takes the better of the two rolls. Whenever the bearer fails an attack roll or saving throw, he rolls twice thereafter when making an attack or save and takes the worse of the two rolls. He also cannot ever benefit from Flanking or Aid Another.

Shard of Sloth/Conjuration:
The bearer may teleport up to twice his base movement speed as a move action at will. They must save make a Will save (DC 20) each round or be Staggered.

Shard of Greed/Transmutation:
The bearer chooses one: +4 to any physical attribute, the ability to fly as per the spell Fly, the ability to breathe underwater as per the spell Water Breathing or the ability to grow or shrink per the spells Enlarge Person/Reduce Person. They must also choose one physical attribute to suffer a -4 penalty. They may choose to switch between any of these options as a full round action.

Paradygmatic wrote:
Bellona wrote:
However, one pair of players found out (out of game) that Azlanti humans get a +2 racial adjustment to ALL their ability scores, and have been teasing me ever since about how they want to play Azlantis as their next characters.

I noticed this randomly by looking through another book after the Trap had triggered on a fellow PC. Strangely, the DM never said anything about stat changes, so I wonder if he simply missed it or thought it was too powerful, I'm not sure.

I thought it was funny that the Trap was triggered on every single piece of jewelry inside the sarcophagus. Seemed like it was designed to make sure we had a few chances for the Trap to trigger and eventually it did, but what makes it funnier is that despite all that, like 2 rooms later our group suffered a near TPK and the PC ended up dying and making a new character.

I ran it slightly differently (see my post above) and had it affect the entire party the moment someone touched the sarcophagus... played each 'terror' out privately using a scenario from the PC's character history, having them make Will saves every round and taking non-lethal damage each time they failed as the visions worsened. It was up to them whether or not to discuss what had happened to them with the others, but they were all Shaken for the remainder of the 'day'. Worked out pretty well.

gustavo iglesias wrote:
I almost had to push the psrty witch to touch the trap. It's too good to ignore it

I'm running a mash-up, using the Rise of the Runelords to tell the Shattered Star story (all six volumes of RotRL as well as #1, #5 and #6 of SS and Seven Days to the Grave from Curse of the Crimson Throne. I say this as a prelude because of how I used 'the trap'...

Nualia was defeated by severing her arm (critical hit) and fell into a coma... later in the story she came around and was set to be taken to Magnimar for a trial and sentencing. The PC's had a reason to rescue her so they themselves became temporary fugitives from justice and Sheila Heidmarch directed them to the Lady's Light to search for the third Shard - they had already found Rage in Nualia's possession and Envy in hands of the ghoulish Aldern Foxglove.

At any rate, Nualia is now one-armed and is no longer the War Priest I had originally built her as, being done with gods and their manipulations. She's been a bit of a nihilist since joining the group and bouncing back and forth between depression and bitterness over all that has happened - a pretty tragic character who is going to meet an even more tragic end in the bowels of the Lady's Light. Once the PC's have defeated Ashamalintu and are recovering at Maroux's cabin, I'm going to have Nualia 'reborn' emerge from the swamps, clad in nothing more than the diaphanous robes the clone of Sorshein was interred in. It will be quite the revelation, but Nualia will be reborn in more than body... she will have a new lease on life (literally) and I plan to rebuild her as a Magus, combining her former martial skill with the new whisperings of magic she hears echoing in her mind.

The fact that I've replaced the BBEG influencing Queen Illeosa in Korvosa with that of a still slumbering (but very close to awakening) Sorshien should make the next volume very, very interesting...

Celissa wrote:

Hello everyone!

I'm very new to putting on the GM hat, though I've been a gamer for years, mostly playing various White Wolf games and some D&D. I and a few family members have decided we'd like to try a tabletop RPG of our own. As the most experienced with playing such things, I volunteered to GM. After some fairly lengthy research, I've decided on the Pathfinder system, and am planning to run the Anniversary Edition Rise of the Runelords path with my group starting in about six weeks. I've read through the first two books thus far, and am quite enjoying the story! I wonder, there any advice some of you more experienced GMs and/or players might have for a new GM that wants to be sure her players have a good experience with the campaign?

Thanks so much for any tips you might have to offer!

This is not strictly just a Rise of the Runelords campaign (its the six book sod RotRL, four others from other AP's and much of my own stuff all together telling one story), but there is a wealth of information on this site, including lots of great images to show your players, and more is being added every day. Use the drop-down menus under the subcategory headings to navigate through. I hope it provides something useful as we continue on, and if there are any questions about the site, our campaign or your own, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Happy gaming.

I love all of this. I'm doing a mash-up of RotRL, Shattered Star and CotCT (6 books, 3 books and 3 books respectively) and the group is going to be getting to Seven Days to the Grave soon, pursuing Xanesha from Magnimar after learning of her plan to spread Vorel's Phage from Ironbriar's captured journals... the main twist I'm having here is that its she, not the Queen who's responsible for the plague gutting Korvosa, harvesting greedy souls infected by tainted silver. I'm planning on using were-rats as a red herring for the spread of the disease, and a lot of your ideas would be able to fit seamlessly into the mood I'm trying to create. All in all, well done.

Hythlodeus wrote:
I want to introduce him earlier, sometime during Burnt Offering for a bigger impact. Any ideas when would be the best time in the book fo him to show up in Sandpoint (in case Tsuto doesn't survive the Glassworks encounter)? Should he arrive when Hemlock returns from Magnimar?

I'm running a Shattered Star-Rise of the Runelords mash-up and I wanted to introduce both Shiela Heidmarch and Justice Ironbriar sooner and in a way that wouldn't necessarily announce them as THE NEXT IMPORTANT NPC'S!!! So, this is what I did:

Brodert Quink had an associate in Magnimar named Torabor Gustavos whom was known as a collector of Thassilonian antiquities and an amateur scholar of the period. He contacted him regarding the potential purchase of the golden helmet found beneath Thistletop and Torabor came to Sandpoint to inspect it and ultimate buy it from the PC's as the centerpiece of his collection. It also reignited and old argument he and Brodert have been having about the role supposed 'Rune Giants' had in the collapse/overthrow of ancient Thassilon. At any rate, Torabor mentioned his new wife (which Brodert found 'preposterous') and insisted that the PC's join them in Magnimar for a dinner party where he intended to unveil the helmet and he hoped they could share the story of its recovery with his guests.

Two weeks later the invitation came and the PC's (and Brodert of course) made the trip to Magnimar's dinner party. Also attending were Canayven Hiedmarch, a fellow Usher and compatriot of Torabor's, his wife Sheila who had an active interest in ancient Thassilon, particularly Sihedron lore, Mors Cavanaugh a Stone Seer, Wyatt of Wartle a traveling minstrel who often stopped in Magnimar and of course, the surprise attendance of the stoic Justice Ironbriar. Lots of good NPC interaction took place, and the PC's ultimately earned an invitation to the Heidmarch's the following day where Sheila spoke with them at length and eventually offered them membership in the fledgling Pathfinder Lodge she had established in Varisia. That would serve to set up their search for the Sihedron fragments, one of which they had already unwittingly recovered (Nualia was in possession of the Shard of Wrath, given to her by Elyrium).

Of more immediate importance, one of the party members happened to witness what appeared to be a romantic exchange between Ironbriar and Torabor's young wife where he expressed his desire for her and she teasingly forestalled him for now... Seraphina Torabor was - you guessed it - Xanesha. She was using Torabor's connections to various Thassilonian expeditions, his position in the Council of Ushers and even his home as a personal base of operations, though it would be quite some time before the PC's discovered that.

Anyway, its worked out well thus far - I hope it inspires some ideas for your campaign.

If you're looking for more, this is the Wiki we're using for our campaign. It gets updated almost daily with stuff.

Have fun and good luck!

Aura of Courage: At 3rd level, a paladin is immune to fear (magical or otherwise).

'Magical or otherwise' seems pretty telling, and what is intimidation but a fear effect? I've never heard of Paladins being immune to Intimidate before though - am I missing something?

Pax Veritas wrote:
  • Well-placed hand-waiving - whenever the GM waves past the boring bits, there's a split second moment of resistance, but in effect the player group appears to then feel relieved that the story progressed
  • This entire post is filled with excellent advice, but I'd like to emphasize this point particularly. There are a great many instances where this has helped our game 'move along' in far more enjoyable fashion. A couple for instances:

    They don't search every body for spare coins and keep track of every copper and I in turn presume that they've done so and that that coin goes towards things like meals, room and board, normal clothing, care for their horses, etc. They still search bodies for clues, of course, and they still find treasure but it tends to be in '100 gp' increments. Haggling over buying and selling mundane loot and whatnot often turns a story-driven campaign into an economy driven MMO.

    There are times towards the end of sessions, especially when they've run a bit long, where the big bad boss is defeated, but there's still some 'clearing out' to do and the denouement to take care of... at those times I'll wrap things up and instead of making them go through the motions, I'll send out an email the next day or so telling the conclusion, what they discovered, the journey home, NPC reactions, etc. in narrative form - including setting up some of the mysteries or unresolved points for the next session. Its worked out really well because everyone has it fixed in their head where things 'left off' clean.

    Just a few thoughts.

    NPC's continuing to pop up in the game. Wiki never stops growing.

    Rise of the Runelords wiki

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    Mark Hoover wrote:

    So the PCs in Burnt Offerings eventually get drawn into going the Thissletop. One of the things my players in my homebrew ask all the time is "why don't they fix their own problems?" so I'm constantly having to justify why a town doesn't stop local goblin tribes, protect better against rampaging monsters in the sewers, etc.

    In reading through the first book I note that Sandpoint has an experienced sheriff, a dozen 2nd level guards and a bunch of militia. Why don't THEY deal with Thissletop, since they are ostensibly on the hook for goblins getting into town to rampage in the first place?

    I had Hemlock ride to Magnimar to ask for additional aid and he came back disgusted with just half a dozen men-at-arms. The town decided to start fortifying their meager defenses, but there was genuine fear that any real progress would be made in the few weeks they had to prepare... and of course there was the unknown threat that was the ancient evil Nualia was trying to free beneath Thistletop.

    If your PC's don't like the idea of battling the forces of evil when the threat looms large, they might be playing the wrong game. Having said that, after my PC's cleared Thistletop, I showed the Nualia's battle plans (which they found in her study):

    Nualia, Lyrie and Orik would be at the gates along with Ripnugget mounted on Stickfoot and four goblin commandos mounted on goblin dogs, a goblin warchanter and 20 goblins.

    Bruthazmus would lead an assault across the bridges which would include 8 goblin commandos mounted on goblin dogs ad 20 goblins.

    Tsuto would lead a group of 20 goblins up out of the tunnels from beneath the Glassworks, joined by Elyrium with four Sinspawn.

    Bruthazmus' group was takes with assaulting the gate from inside, timed with Stickfoot climbing over the wall after Lyrie had softened up the defenders with a Stone Call or two. She would coordinate the assault with Whispering Wind and then remain at Nualia's side using her wand. Orik would simply serve as Nualia's bodyguard.They would move to the new Cathedral to desecrate it and then the goblins would be let loose to burn and pillage as Nualia and her group progressed to the Manor homes looking for wealth and potential sacrifices.

    All told:
    Nualia (rebuilt as a 6th level Warpriest of Lamashtu)
    Lyrie (4th level Transmuter)
    Orik (4th level Fighter)
    Tsuto (3rd level Monk / 1st level Rogue)
    Bruthazmus (rebuilt as a 2nd level Barbarian/2nd level Ranger)
    Ripnugget (5th level Fighter)
    Stickfoot, Giant Gecko
    12 Goblin Commandos
    12 Goblin Dogs
    1 Goblin Warchanter
    60 Goblins
    Elyrium (Quasit rebuilt as a 3rd level Cleric of Lamashtu)
    4 Sinspawn

    All of that against the handful of class-leveled NPC's in the town and the PC's themselves without the benefit of the wealth or experience to be gained in Thistletop. Suffice to say, they were glad they had interceded as an when they did.

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    Chogokin wrote:
    Good afternoon. I'm going to try running Rise of the Runelords for a small gaming group. I'm interested in any tips, caveats, etc., that you can share.

    One great red herring I used to lead in from Burnt Offerings to Skinsaw Murders:

    I had Tsuto infatuated with his sister Ameiko instead of Nualia, that infatuation leading to his sneaking into the Glassworks and contacting her - his murder of their father 'freed them' to be together Lannister-style, which of course she wanted no part of. The PC's rescued her and Tsuto escaped only to be killed in the showdown with Nualia at Thistletop.

    I had Shayliss do her thing with one of the PC's, but also be seen to flirt with Aldern who inquired after her during the Boar Hunt. He was always magnanimous but still in competition with the PC for her affections. Shayliss' parents prefer the match with an established aristocrat and prevented her and the PC from continuing the affair. After a break, unbeknownst to most, Shayliss continued receiving secret messages from Aldern though he remained hidden in his new form.

    Ameiko eventually got involved with the PC that Shayliss had made her move on, being played as a much cooler 'guys girl' while Shayliss played the sorority-girl type.

    When the Skinsaw murders began, a message was left for the PC at the Rusty Dragon, insinuating that 'she was his and would be so forever'... it was Aldern (his Lust obsession towards Shayliss and his Envy towards the PC), but the group immediately assumed that it was somehow an undead version of Tsuto referring to Ameiko (she even suggests it if the PC's don't)... it wasn't until the Hambley farm that they found the link to Foxglove Manor that it all clicked, and they rushed back to town, only to find Shayliss missing. The trip to the Misgivings became a rescue mission as much as anything and Iesha's ire against Aldern was as much to prevent him from doing to another girl what he did to her. All in all it really worked out well.

    There were plenty of other changes I made, tweaks to fit the larger campaign I'm running, but that was one of my favorites in the early going.

    I'm going to be running a side-quest in Runelords that involves the group rescuing Shalelu from a hobgoblin village where Bruthazmus has held her captive over the winter. Figure 20 or so hobgoblins, a shaman, Bruthazmus and an Ettin enforcer. Maybe a handful of goblins kept around for menial labor. What I need is a decent map/set-up for it - can anyone think of a module or AP volume that might have a serviceable map? If it helps, its going to be set up in the mountains (Devil's Platter) though not especially remote.

    Justin Sluder wrote:

    I'm going to run Shattered Star as a prequel to Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, and Second Darkness.

    It'll be starting in 4706 AR, just as Heidmarch Manor is getting set up as a Pathfinder Lodge, and before Volume 44 of the Pathfinder Chronicles as been finalized and published.

    Also, replacing part 1 of Shards of Sin with Rise of the Goblin Guild (PFS scenario 4-01), putting the first mcguffin on the scenario's BBEG.


    Reminder, use the spoiler tags if you want to get specific about details.

    Are you asking advice on implementing your idea, asking for alternate suggestions, asking after potential problems in execution...?

    If you're trying to put together a mega-campaign of sorts I can offer some thoughts on that, specifically surrounding these AP's because I've been running something similar, though with some definite differences.

    Basically what I'm doing is telling the Shattered Star story but I'm using Rise of the Runelords to do it. The (incredibly) short version of what I'm doing is that I'm having the shards begin to surface in the hands of individuals best suited to their 'sinful' natures, (Wrath for Nualia, Envy for Aldern Foxglove, Gluttony for Mammy Graul, etc.) and the investigation of the shards becomes interwoven into a much larger story... all told I'm doing the six books from RotRL, the second, fifth and sixth books from Shattered Star and the infamous Seven Days to the Grave from CotCT. All are being modified, obviously, some heavily and some hardly at all, but I've been amazed at how well its all come together. We just finished Burnt Offerings and, looking at what will be coming, I can honestly say that this will be the greatest campaign I've ever run or been associated with in almost 30 years of gaming.

    One point I'm trying to make is that whatever you do, don't just mash things together because they sound cool or share a basic theme... you want things to flow, to evolve naturally from one volume of an AP to the next and that may well result in some hard choices regarding encounters or even entire volumes that you're better off leaving out for the sake of the greater story. The good news is that as you tie these elements together, you'll find inspiration for all sorts of additions and inclusions which will add to the experience for both you and your players.

    If there is anything specific you'd like to discuss, by all means just ask. If you're interested in doing something similar to what I've put together I'd love to be of assistance. (And if you're curious about how the campaign is going, we have a campaign wiki located here.)

    I'm sure there are some published adventures out there that would suit you, but all I can offer is what we did.

    When the PC's went through Thistletop they had Shalelu with them. Bruthazmus had been set up as her nemesis earlier on and he managed to escape during the confusion of the final battle, with Shalelu in hot pursuit. The PC's later had to track down Bruthazmus to his new lair and rescue the captured Shalelu... it was actually pretty intense - he had taken over a small bugbear tribe with the assistance of an Ettin thug. He had her staked out to a post and was using her for target practice, having the tribal shaman heal her periodically; she had even been healed around a couple of arrows that had her pinned to the post... the PC's had developed a positive relationship with her early on and this really drove home to them Bruthazmus' villainy.

    Another thing that happened before we got to Skinsaw - the PC's hadn't cleared out Thistletop, they had failed to find the secret doors down to the Giant Hermit Crab or to Malfeshnekor's prison. They had also avoided the Bunyip and the Tentamort, thanks in part to Orik's switching sides. So I had two druids show up in town, a Dwarf and a Half-elf run like a sort of odd couple... they had designs on inhabiting Thistletop themselves, but sought the PC's aid in removing the 'evil they still sensed within its depths'. I added an encounter with some Harpies whom had taken the topmost part as their lair and the return to Thistletop became a full-fledged adventure all on its own.

    Not sure if any of that helps but there it is. I also wrote up an encounter where the PC's had to guard a shipment of mithril from a Dwarven mining community to Magnimar in return for having some of it worked into chain shirts and a breastplate for the martials. One of the guards was actually a member of the local bandit group whom had set an ambush (bandit leader was a Ranger with an eagle animal companion and his second was a Sorcerer, the rest were 1st level Fighter/1st level Rogues). Having a traitor in their midst proved a challenge when he grappled the party Wizard as soon as the fight began.

    I didn't think he was an appropriate fight for the PC's at that level and I had a few ideas of what I wanted to do with Thistletop. They defeated Nualia after an incredibly difficult fight (she used superb tactics) and brought her back to Sandpoint, having failed to locate the secret doors on the bottom level, missing out on the Giant Hermit Crab and Malfeshkenor. They also bypassed the Tentamort thanks to Orik and avoided the Bunyip..., later, I had a pair of Druids come to town (3rd level) who intended to use Thistletop as a home for their burgeoning order, but they sought the PC's aid in ridding the place of 'the evil they could still sense within'. So, the group returned, this time facing a couple of harpies whom had made roost in the upper level and then clearing out all of the others until they finally faced Malfeshkenor a level higher and with a little bit of assistance from the Druids. As a reward, I made sure the Druids were able to help them locate anything they may have missed.

    Bennett5394 wrote:

    I am currently running Rise of the Runelords, and my group is almost done with The Fortress of the Stone Giants. Recently, I was searching for a map of Ancient Thassilon, particularly a map that showed the borders of each domain of Thassilon. After reading the History of Thassilon article, I got a basic idea where each domain was, but I was still not clear.

    I was also thinking of continuing the campaign after book 6, because my player seem to be having a great time. The map would be a great resource to expand on the campaign and stay with the ancient Thassilon theme.

    I've been working on a Rise of the Runelords-Shattered Star mash-up which has turned out really, really well. It occurs to me that one way to continue the adventure a bit (apart from making new characters and running Shattered Star as the intended sequel), is to play book 6 of Shattered Star as a sort of epilogue. Other adventurers could have acquired the pieces of the Star, the players could hear of its re-forging and be present for when the chaos that follows goes down. Shouldn't take much adjustment at all, really.

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    There are some really, really good Pathfinder Society scenarios that take place in Magnimar and fit thematically. They're small, self-contained, fit thematically and are easily adaptable.

    Season 4 scenarios

    Particularly recommended are:

    4-01 Rise of the Goblin Guild

    4-02 In Wrath's Shadow

    4-03 The Golemworks Incident

    4-26 The Waking Rune

    Special - Race for the Runecarved Key

    I'm running a RotRL-Shattered Star mash-up (not all of Shattered Star, just about three volumes) and fitting nicely for me as a follow-up to the Skinsaw Murders was Curse of the Lady's Light, volume 2 of Shattered Star. You could introduce Shiela Heidmarch in Magnimar through one of the above scenarios and then have her point them towards the Light, removing the Shard motivation entirely and replacing the search for something else entirely. Its worked incredibly well for me, but as part of the larger story. Just an idea.

    Haladir wrote:
    One other change I made: I put in a mechanism that Koruvus could trigger that would raise up the zombies, or at least most if them. The mechanism took three rounds to complete, giving the PCs a clock to work against, and reverse before having to fight a bunch of zombies.

    I made a change that was kind of similar. I had the zombie cages at regular level, and two Sinspawn tormenting them with their ransuers when the PC's came in (ransuers have reach). The battle was in moderately cramped conditions and anyone who ended their turn in a square adjacent to the cages where a zombie was kept was subject to an attack by it. Anyone including the Sinspawn. Made for a nice, dynamic little battlefield.

    Eoin of Duskwood wrote:
    So i was curious, what was everyone's experience with Erylium? Was it a struggle for you or your players? Whats the story?

    My PC's battled her to a standstill the first time and realized they didn't have anything that could take her out (Invisible, can fly, regenerate, DR, etc. is pretty ridiculous for a 2nd level group). I had rebuilt her as a 3rd level Cleric of Lamshtu with a focus on Summoning spells and Murderous Command, incidentally.

    So they backed out and sealed the door to the Cathedral, jamming it shut and went back up to town to regroup. I had Brodert all ready to give them a scroll of Glitterdust (in exchange for an escort through the lair once they had cleared it for his research), but they came up with their own ideas. After an evenings rest, they petitioned the baker for sacks of flour and conscripted two of the guardsmen to enter behind them and begin filling the air with it... the Sorcerer had five sleep spells available and the Paladin had a Smite available. They had to kill her summoned creatures but after that, it didn't take much after that.

    I suppose I could have given them grief over the use of the flour but I generally prefer to reward creativity.

    Aod43254 wrote:

    As the title says I'm a new GM (well new to premade modules, I did a little custom made stuff about 2+ years ago but sadly haven't had a group to play with since) and I'm about to run Rise of the Runelords. I'm going to running it for 3 people who have never played any form of tabletop rpg before and one who has. I'm in the process of reading some of the threads here, the gm reference threads in particular and any others that catch my eye.

    I'll be starting in about 1-2 months, and should have both the Rise of the Runelords anniversary edition and the face cards coming in the mail in about a week or two. So I plan to start reading the actual module when it arrives and trying to familiarize myself with the plot and what's going on ahead of time.

    So if anyone has any helpful advice or tips I'd very much appreciate it.


    Well, after playing through it once, I'm now running it for a party of three with only slight PF experience and just moderate experience with RPG's in general. Full disclosure, I'm putting together what I think will be a truly epic campaign, incorporating books from two other AP's (3 from Shattered Star and 1 from Curse of the Crimson Throne) and rewriting a bit of the overall story arc... but the Rise volumes will be run very, very close to hope they are written.

    I say that because I want you to be aware that there may become differences, but we have put together a wiki for the group which includes some solid home-brew exposition and a wealth of images and background. I expand upon it after every session to update what has happened, what new people or places have been encountered and so forth. We're still fairly early on in the campaign (we had the holidays to deal with; they are at Thistletop as we speak), but it may be that you find some useful stuff in exploring the wiki.

    Our RotRL wiki

    If you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to address them here or you can pm me any time. :)

    I don't care for how they work mechanically, so I altered them and I'd like to hear some thoughts.

    The flavor description wouldn't change, but the benefit they offer is twofold.

    This hideous mask resembles a patchwork, deformed face, with one bulbous eye, a grimacing mouth with long teeth, and a flat nose. When worn, the mask fills the wearer's mind with hideous whispers and images of murder and violence. It heightens the wearer's ability to sense fear. He can smell the cold sweat brought on by terror and hear the thundering beating of a frightened heart. Further, fresh blood glows brightly to him, to the extent that he can see the shimmering traceries of living circulatory systems pumping away in the bodies of those around him.

    1) They grant the Sneak Attack class feature (+1d6). If the character already has the Sneak Attack class feature, their damage dice improves by +1d6.

    2) The bloodlust inspired by the whispers grant a +2 bonus to Initiative in combat.

    The masks only work for worshippers of Norgorber. Anyone else who puts it on must make a DC 15 Will save each round or become Sickened by the things they hear and see.

    CWheezy wrote:
    I think having her not use the claw and bastard sword combo is a flavor failure. Yes it is not good, BUT it is super cool and she will still do a lot of damage to the PCs anyway

    I'm having her use a Flail in one hand and then her claw as a secondary attack (-5 attack) but the claw arm has a higher strength (+4 STR) to offset that somewhat.

    I actually did something very similar, remade Nualia as a 6th level Warpriest. The group will probably be encountering her next session - this is how I have the battle planned out:

    Lyrie (4th level Transmuter), Bruthazmus (2nd level Ranger/2nd level Barbarian) and Tsuto (4th level Monk) will be buffed, prepared and waiting to face the PC's: three very well made 3rd level characters along with a turncoat Orik (4th level Fighter) and Shalelu (4th level Ranger). That battle won't be a cakewalk, but its intended to be an appetizer for the main event.

    Its my plan to have Bruthazmus break free at some point and flee with Shalelu in hot pursuit, setting up a side quest I've put together.

    Nualia will be watching from down the hallway with her Yeth Hound, and will send him in to shake things up if it looks like the fight is going badly (remember it can fly so it won't trigger the blade trap). Once the PC's defeat all of her minions, she will try to lure them into springing the trap and then will 'flee' down to where the Shadows lair. There she will use cast Hide From Undead and once the PC's close with her, Darkness. Her plan is to circle out of the effect of the spell and attack PC's as they emerge, occasionally channelling negative energy to hurt the PC's and heal the Shadows. She'll self-heal as a swift action when possible and reserve a Sanctuary spell to use if she needs to flee...

    I'm mildly concerned that it will be too deadly a fight, but Nualia is smart and is fighting on her home turf. My PC's will have to earn it.

    Ah, one other thing... one of my PC's is a Paladin of Sarenrae and has been urged by Father Zantus to 'save Nualia if there is anything of her left to save'. To that end I've decided that any confirmed critical will sever Nualia's demonic arm and will leave her Shaken. A successful Intimidate check or anything that might worsen the Shakened condition will cause her to surrender, and likely fall back into a coma similar to the one after she lost her child. Kind of a built-in alternate victory condition for the PC's to better enhance the drama.

    I customize the vast majority of treasure, and it tends to make appearances in fits and spurts, allowing me to see how the campaign adjusts to the newfound power level. My players love it, but they've never been the sort to be defined by their gear.

    Moreover, a lot of the 'wealth' takes form in other ways than coin. The party donated the Everburning candles they found to Zantus' Cathedral, earning his appreciation and future aid without having to pay coin for it. He even loaned them a custom healing wand for use at Thistletop and it twice proved the difference between survival and death. I had the remains of a pre-Earthfall map found in the Catacombs showing the border between Shalast and Alanzist's realm (I forget the name off-hand). I had already determined it'd be worth 500 gp to a collector of Thassilonian lore and even had a buyer lined up for when they wanted to sell.. but instead they elected to gift it to Brodert and it has helped him tremendously in his efforts to prove his theories about the Old Light. In return he has gifted them with the odd scroll at times, has given them insight into some of the foes they've faced, and will even join them on one of their expeditions in the near future.

    Wealth by level feels like a hold over from MMO's and video games and has never been necessary for me to run an effective and enjoyable campaign.

    Askren wrote:

    I just wanna say, I had caught wind of this idea a while back, and dropped the Shard of Wrath into the hands of the players via Erylium (obviously, in hindsight, it should have been Nualia, but whatever), and they have no clue what it is aside from it's powerful magic. They left it with Quink, who locked it away. I had originally given them this plot hook mostly as a way to give myself a lead if I ever found the group going dry or wanted to add some interest to the ongoing plot, but the group has mostly forgotten about it by now.

    Currently, my Runelords game is just out of the first book where I slipped in the Chopper's Isle sidequest, and I currently have them sidetracked in Magnimar between books 1 and 2 doing the one-shot module Dawn of the Scarlet Son because I have a Sarenrae priestess who wanted some backstory and DotSS is a Sarenrae murder-mystery one-shot that fit perfectly, plus they've got 2 new players they need time to get used to.

    When they get back to Sandpoint, I had made Aldern focus on Ameiko rather than a player, since there were no female characters for him, and I didn't think the jealousy/envy thing had as much impact.

    I do like this mashup, and certainly am going to crib lots of ideas from it, though some may need editing obviously. Besides Nualia being dead, the most important one I see is that while I would love to do a remixed Seven Days to the Grave (I love CoCT, it's my favorite AP), one of my players has already done it and I don't know if I can get him to run it again, especially since some events of it freaked him out and he has vowed not to play that game again.

    Since the original post, I've done lots refinement on the overall story arc, particularly with the Seven Days to the Grave volume. If you ever want to chat up ideas, feel free to drop me the line - and check out the wiki.


    Bellona wrote:

    I'm surprised that the mayor hasn't just ordered the Catacombs (as found via the Glassworks tunnel) to be collapsed by dwarven miners or some such group. Who wants an evil temple to Lamashtu right under their town, and accessible enough that anyone can just walk in?

    ... But yes, according to AE you're not facing a death sentence.

    In both my games, the Mayor had the catacombs sealed and the tunnels barricaded with locked gates. Simple folk don't want any part of that in their town - who knows what the PC's might unleash?

    the Lorax wrote:

    Yes, that answered my question, thanks.

    As I'm not intending on using the Shattered Star (except perhaps as the NEXT campaign) my take-away is to use some method to get them up there that feels like a continuation of the plot.

    Perhaps if Orik survives he gets sentenced to join the Black Arrows.
    The PCs end up being asked to escort him up there when the Black Arrows contacts never show up to pick him up? I can live with that.

    Well, you have to figure the PC's, by exposing Iron Briar and unravelling the Skinsaw Cult gain some notoriety in Magnimar... the Mayor isn't over-joyed at having these quite competent corruption-exposing adventurers loose in his city and sending them off to investigate the issues at Ft. Rannick seems like a convenient way to get rid of them, killing two birds with one stone.

    Orik being sentenced to join the Black Arrows just gives them another reason to go and its a good idea I've seen suggested elsewhere. I'm planning on having the PC's run into his sister (from Shattered Star) in Magnimar and then having him turn up in Turtleback Ferry, down on his luck again after having blown his share of the treasure from Thistletop (he switched sides) aboard the Paradise Barge. Eventually I expect him to serve as one of the new members of the Black Arrows once the Hook Mountain Massacre is resolved.

    Ah - just remembered another one.

    Torabor Gustavos:
    A wealthy merchant in Magnimar who's passion is the collecting of Thassilonian artifacts. He is a colleague of sorts of Brodert Quink and fancies himself a Thassilonian scholar - the two correspond often and and travel to visit one another from time to time. He serves as a contact in Magnimar for the PC's and was introduced as a collector willing to pay them for some of the 'collectables' the group discovers during their adventures.

    He has also recently been married to a young wife, both younger and prettier than most would expect of a stogy merchant and collector. Even though she expresses genuine affection towards the older man, most figure she's simply enjoying his money and the great deal of free time she finds herself with, given her husband's business dealings and Thassillonian obsession. In truth, she is actually one of Xanesha's alter egos, allowing her a safe, unassuming base of operations, ready access to funds and city gossip as well as someone who will keep her apprised of any discoveries of important artifacts or anent sites. She does not, at present, have Torabor charmed - she hasn't had any need to as yet - but will not hesitate to do so should the need arise.

    Pnakotus Detsujin wrote:

    I'm glad the story is evolving. If you wish, I've few suggestions in order to not make Fort Rannick or the trip at Korvosa a forced move. They regards story leads that can be easily planted in Korvosa. Text back if you are interested.

    I'm curious thought, does the cult of Lissala plays any weight in your story?

    I'm always interested in any input anyone might have. This is probably my most ambitious gaming undertaking and while I'm very pleased with how its developing it wouldn't have done so the way it has without inspiration from a lot of different sources. I'm not going in to very exhaustive detail, I know, so it may seem less well thought out than it actually is...

    At present, apart from being some bit of obscure lore, I have no plans on working in the cult of Lissala in any particular role. There will be a lot of factions and moving parts as it is... however, I certainly haven't ruled it out - I expect the campaign to evolve depending on actions the PC's take, what things they express particular interest in, etc. Within the established framework, I'm open to a lot of different things happening.

    As an aside, Seven Days to the Grave will be my most extensive re-write in order to make it fit into the story... the chief protagonist will be Xanesha, looking to harvest souls out from under (unknown to her) the stirring Sorshen through the plague spread among the greedy by tainted coins. The plague-bearers will be hers and the vampires will be replaced with a more expanded group of faceless stalkers. Vorel's Phage will have been cultivated by Ironbriar at her direction and the partnership with the Red Mantis Assassins will be hers. Illeosa's role will be as an agent, perhaps unwitting, of the stirring Sorshen deep beneath Castle Korvosa, and she and her Grey Maidens will play a much smaller direct role in things... in truth, I'm using her to represent the fact that more than one Runelord may be awakening and may be pulling strings in Varisia. On of the things I'm looking forward to most is the players allying themselves with the were-rats beneath the city, and a dramatic pitched battle in the sewers where a small army of were-rats rescue the party from an overwhelming force of faceless stalkers.

    the Lorax wrote:

    Story Archer, Definately!

    The transition between Skinsaw and Hook Mountain doesn't feel organic to me.

    With you doing a lot in between I'm curious how you plan to get the characters to want to be headed up to Turtleback Ferry/Fort Rannick.

    Well, to be honest, I have a good, general plan to take me through all of the different volumes but i've also got two caveats: the first is that i tend to really detail how I lay things out based on what has come before... the various interactions with and potential deaths of a wide number of NPC's might change how I hook them from A to B, and the further out I get the less certain I can be as to how its going to unfold. Also, I'm blessed with PC's who really want to experience what I've put together for them, so they don't mind the occasional bit of railroading and aren't shy about taking a hook that is presented. Its payback for the subplots I write in for each character and the pains I go through to hint at things far down the road. While the flow might not always be perfect due to circumstances beyond my control, it never ever feels like a sudden 180 just to accommodate the campaign.

    Having said all that, during the Skinsaw Murders the PC's are going to meet Shield Heidmarch socially and after Ironbriar is exposed and Xanesha escapes (which is what I intend), Shiela will be the one to reveal to them that they have come into possession of, by then, two of the Shards of the Shattered Star - it will be then that a quest for the remaining fragments will become sort of a background over-reaching plot and she will request that they explore the Lady's Light as a potential resting place for another (I'm doing away with the Ioun Stone roadmap thing). Brodert Quink will insist on coming with them to explore the ancient statue; I'm having he and Shiela be the PC's two primary sources of Thassilonian lore and often times the two will be in conflict, both in their priorities and in their theories.

    While at the Lady's Light the PC's will encounter the Grey Maidens and also while they are there Brodert will break Ironbriar's cypher, revealing that the escaped Xanesha has terrible plans for the city of Korvosa... its those two tie-ins which I expect to lead the PC's into Seven Days to the Grave.

    Once the plague and its aftermath has been dealt with and Xanesha finally defeated, Shiela will reach out to the PC's with what she believes to be another resting place for one of the Shard artifacts in and around Hook Mountain, and will have made arrangements with the Mayor of Magnimar who has had some trouble in the area (Ft. Rannick) and who, personally, would like to see the PC's and their growing influence out of the city. There will be multiple ties to what's going on of course because the group will be unknowingly in pursuit of Xanesha's sister and her machinations, all the while unwittingly interfering with Karzoug's plans. Meanwhile, their adventures in Korvosa will have drawn them to the attention of the Sorshen-possessed/influenced Illeosa (as well as the Red Mantis Assassins) and a rival party will be sent after them - Karzoug is not the only Runelord interested in reassembling the Star, and his clandestine efforts to undermine Sorshen through his agent Xanesha will need to be countered.

    As you can see, its a pretty complicated web but everything works very neatly, especially as the group learns more and more and realizes all that's been going on in the background, tiring their seemingly disparate adventures together.

    Did I answer your question? I hope I did, I can kind of ramble sometimes when it comes to this campaign.

    the Lorax wrote:

    As I'm reading Rise, I dont care for the transition between Skinsaw and Hook Mountain.

    I've been keeping an eye on your threads about your expanded campaign plan, and see that you have two whole books+ in between those.

    How are you planning managing that link across Skinsaw ->Hook Mountain?

    I'd sort of half planned to make sure Lyrie escapes and run some of the ideas I've seen about using her in Magnimar, and that causing all sorts of legal problems that push the party out to Fort Rannick but I still dont like that either.

    Was this directed towards me, or..?

    Ms. Pleiades wrote:

    3. Add a single raiding group of goblins that can distract from the main events. Add more as you see fit based on how well the group does in wrapping up combat quickly and efficiently. The battle of Sandpoint is all about resolving fights quickly before too much damage is done to the city and too many people are taken. The Monster Codex has lots of options for bringing new life to typically low CR enemies.

    I wanted to make sure the 'Battle of Sandpoint' was a bit more epic in scope, so I included a couple of NPC's they had encountered earlier in the game to lend them aid, and I increased the number of giants in each group by 1 as well as added two roving bands of Ogre warriors that the PC's could encounter anywhere, any time I wanted to spice up that fight.

    I also upped the Dragon one age category but brought him in later, when Mokmurian sent for him via Whispering Wind...

    NobodysHome wrote:
    The most "visceral" group I added was a Varisian caravan that showed up for the Swallowtail Festival in my prelude to Book 1, then got attacked by goblins between Books 1 and 2.

    That does remind me - I had a Dwarven toymaker (retired low level adventurer - come down from Magnimar with a dozen orphans or so for the Festival. After the goblin attack on th etwn, the Sheriff didn't clear anyone to leave town until they had scouted the roads to make sure it was safe, then he and most of the town guards escorted them back to Magnimar (including Foxglove) while he was on his way to ask for additional troops. They left right after Shalelu's visit and their departure led to the PC's remaining in town to 'keep an eye on things', i.e. Glass and Wrath.

    The PC's and some nice interactions with the toymaker and the orphans, holed up in the Rusty Dragon as they were, including Daverin Hosk's 'Goblin Toss' game, saving them from an add-on goblin encounter during the raid and donating a bit of coin to the toymaker to see after their maintenance.

    Anzyr wrote:
    Probably Magic.

    No, that would be Seoni ;-P

    the Queen's Raven wrote:
    It almost looks as if all of the blue material would be one big set of fancy robes with a more simple white dress underneath.

    Definitely think the cloak and hood are part of a larger set of robes that she wears more like a mantle...

    Oh, this is a fun idea... I'm making great use of a number of the existing NPC's in my current run - an expanded campaign that includes a number of volumes from Shattered Star and one from Crimson Throne - but that didn't keep me from adding in some of my own as well.

    Karackus and Ohlmin:
    My PC's didn't completely clear out Thisteltop and failed for find the secret doors leading to the Malfeshnekor's prison... I had an idea that I didn't want Thistletop to go unoccupied so I introduced these two via Madame Mvashti who has known connections which druids. They expressed a desire to take over the ancient site as a residence and requested the PC's aid to 'clear the evil they sensed remained'. The PC's went back with them (two 3rd level Druids with different specialities) and they defeated the Tentamort, the Bunyip, the Giant Hermit Crab, the Shadows and the Barghest as well as some Harpies I added in whom had taken up roost on the upper level. I played the two as a sort of 'odd couple' and they remain there as relative recluses, though I plan for them to be of aid in the giant's raid on Sandpoint later on.

    As I said, I'm making a lot of use of existing NPC's, including those from the other volumes as well (like Sheila Hiedmarch, Oriana the Grey Maiden and the witch Maroux for instance), expanding some of them a great deal. I know that when they leave Korvosa after Seven Days to the Grave I'm going to have them pursued by a 'nemesis' party and I've got some ideas already about its make-up. I'll definitely revisit this thread when I iron out the details just in case anyone is curious.

    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.

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