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I'd avoid WoTR unless you and your group are inclined to dive into working with the mythic rules or your willing to put in extra work as a DM to not use the mythic rules.
I'd second Jade Regent (and the advice of ditching the caravan subsystem) we're 2/3 through and its been a lot of fun and would connect nicely if you've been playing RoTRL.
Carrion Crown is another one I'd recommend. Each adventure is fairly episodic the only work really is to flesh out some story connections which the boards here are a trove of adivce to do.
I don't really see what you're getting re the proliferation of supposed DMPCs. Many of the APs have an ongoing supporting cast which is a good thing in my mind. The only case I can think of is perhaps Ameiko in JR. Really its up to the DM and the group how they use friendly NPCs. Sometimes they're just like Q; you get some fancy gear from them, others provide some intelligence and if the group is inclined maybe some extra muscle.
The problem does very much seem to be not necessarily fudging but the GMs reliance on this and curious whether other players at the table are finding the same thing with their spells or abilities? As with most issues best thing is to talk to your DM about it in a friendly manner. Maybe the DM has done some fudging but hasn't thought about how often he's been doing it and a bit of feedback to the DM should be appreciated.
I didn't see anyone else post this in the thread so thought I'd provide a link to an excellent article from Steve Winters.
Banning or saying no to certain propositions can be just as important as saying yes to a player's suggestion. Balancing those can be tricky though and as other posters have pointed out its important for a DM who is banning or limiting options to explain why upfront and then also listen and heed the players inputs or take on those ground rules.
For the record, I now do just simply ban the summoner class and while I'm fine with gunslingers they'll never come across advanced firearms.
Quite possibly while I know the class I can't necessarily say I know all the tricks to optimize it and the player isn't inclined to powergame. I wasn't aware of the distance magical property until I just looked up at the pfsrd. That certainly is a game changer for the gunslinger.
Been running this for awhile, just started Ashes at Dawn.
-Unless you're wanting to do signficant tweaks to the campaign I wouldn't recommend E8.
-I've been running the campaign with allowing any paizo published material though banning the synthesist and master summoner archetypes.
-The party includes an alchemist and gunslinger (pistolero) along with cleric, barbarian, bard and Inquisitor.
-Gunslinger isn't really an issue. He isn't doing the type of damage the barbarian is reliably and remember the touch attack only applies in the first range increment (20'). He often gets pulled into melee as a result (wake of the watcher has lots of tentacles!). I don't feel the gunslinger is anymore of a concern. The class does fit well into this campaign I would add.
Also this thread should be moved to the Carrion Crown forum.
There's a fun encounter I ran the other week from Wake of the Watcher (Carrion Crown)
The party uses a diving bell to descend 400' to the bottom of the lake. Halfway down the bell is attacked by a sorcerer devilfish (who the party ran afoul of earlier but backed away from). The party is squeezed into the bell and have to exit the bell. Luckily prepared for underwater action but hard pressed as the devilfish uses its unholy blood to essentially blind the party underwater (it can see through the cloud). The party won but there were a lot of nervous rolls.
So after exploring the skum tunnels the party got batted around pretty good by the gug. Dropped two players to unconcious before outright killing the cleric. Only the gunslinger left and down to his last shots on the pepperbox. Two hits and then explodes his gun on the third shot (misfired previous round). Good thing those two other shots finished off the gug.
For straight up classic, the mind flayer for sure (though I of course still use them whenever I can in my home games). Probably one of the best D&D monsters (though some of that background started getting silly, brain tadpoles, from the future etc.)
Otherwise from Spelljammer I always liked the Witchlight marauders; kind of like a biological weapon used to waste entire planets.
I think the criticism towards the OP is rather misplaced. It happened and now the question is how to turn things around so as to still finish the campaign. the silver lining is I think the initial defeat makes the last adventure more high stakes. Whether the players take on some of the caravan NPCs to lead a rescue mission. Remember you have the Amatatsu Seal so I think you can be somewhat liberal in how it reacts to the situation (wouldn't save them entirely but maybe give them another chance to save themselves -i.e. raise them from the dead).
I think you've got options as a GM and truthfully I think if the players manage to bounce back from this defeat then their final victory will be that much sweeter.
As other posters have mentioned see which one strikes your group's interest. As someone who DMed CoCT and quite a few other APs it is probably the best done AP published thus far. I highly recommend it.
CoCT has a great city setting and as the AP more or less revolves around Korvosa it was a lot of fun for the players to have invested backgrounds that actually mattered to the campaign. The Ap has a host of memorable NPCs, variety of adventures and a well connected storyline. 7 days and Scarwall are great modules out of the group but all of them are quite good. With the right group this is a fantastic campaign.
Aravar Eveningfall wrote:
I'd concur with you it doesn't help when a player comes up with a concept entirely disconnected from the rest of the group or the premise. (i.e. insisting on playing an elven ninja in a viking campaign). One of the things that has entered talk in rp circles the last several years is borrowing the always say yes concept from improv theatre. What is often forgotten is that for this to work the player also need to yes to the DM (i.e. ok guys I'm running a gothic horror themed campaign set in this particular city, the players respond by building characters that have a stake in the city and somehow play to the premise). As a DM I don't want an overly long background but I do want the player to build something based from the context I've provided.
I somewhat disagree re the APs. Hopefully from info from the player guide and from the Gm the player can use that material as a springboard to involve their character in the campaign's action from what's been shared. Also, there's no reason why in an AP the gm can't swap stuff out from the campaign and insert characters drawn the player's backstories. I've certianly done a fair amount of that in the APs I've ran. I imagine there are a few out there that this might be harder to do (second darkness comes to mind). I think APs benefit enormously from personalizing content and getting players to invest in their character, setting etc.
Having ran savage tide, coct (3.5) and halfway through CC and JR + a handful of modules I generally find the difficulty level is just right for my group (competent characters but generally not OP). The most common tweak I do to encounters is to add cannon fodder so the enemy casters aren't overwhelmed in the 1st round or double up the monsters if they're solo.
Depends on the campaign. I mostly DM and I appreciate some background and sense of where the character came from and some motivation but only a few concise paragraphs/bullet points. I also find simply talking to the player about their characters is often the best way to draw some ideas out. I do find the APs that I've ran provide some springboard for players of all types to concoct something and the traits are a helpful tool to elicit this from the more rp reluctant players and usually give some stake or motivation to the character to be involved (I can only speak for CoCT, CC and JR).
In my campaign Ameiko is being played by a PC. It works much better I think than having her as an NPC. We changed her class to gunslinger as the party already had a bard but otherwise kept her the same.
I haven't really had to change anything else. Ameiko is supposed to be kidnapped in Frozen Shadows but this isn't necessary as the party already has enough hooks (recover Suishen, Ulf Gormandr).
Really the only issue is to make it very clear to the rest of the players that once they get the seal they are Amatatsu and defenders of Minkai. This isn't just Ameiko's story. As long as you have that dynamic it plays very good.
I'd second Feros' cautions about Wrath. It would take a good amount of work to modify the AP for non-mythic. For a group just starting to wade into PF I'd recommend the module trilogy starting with Crypt of the Everflame, Masks of the Living God and the City of Golden Death. While not an AP they're interconnected and the first module in particular is designed to introduce new players to the PF rules.
Otherwise I'm sure Rise of the Runelords is sort of the default recommendation for groups.
One thing is to integrate story into the dungeon crawl.
What is the party hoping to accomplish by exploring this dangerous site? Are they actively opposing the cult's goals or is this their first contact with them?
-Overall, I'd say its important to identify some specific objectives that the party is likely to accomplish by entering these tombs (i.e. learn more about the cult's goals, obtain some of the race's technology, track down a particular cultist etc.). The goals of the party are likely to shape how they go about their task (e.g. a rescue mission, heist, lore gathering etc.) and should inform you as to how to run the crawl and where you might want to insert clues either about your ongoing plot or providing further background about the cult and their origins. Libraries or archives of course make great info-dumps as does large scale artworks such as murals, tapestries etc.
So you have a set of underground warrens, the remnants of a long dead race from another planet and a cult of their descendants having pilfered some of their tech.
I'd second Glutonny's suggestions of leaving some of the cultists active in the complex. Perhaps while they obtained the key item they were looking for there is a group doing mop-up or leaving traps behind to protect their find. They also make sense as your chief protagonist. If they know the complex and become aware of intruders the crawl could quickly shift from a simple exploration to a deadly game of cat and mouse as the cultists use traps, hit and run tactics to terrorize and eventually eliminate the party (that is of course until the party turns the tables by locating some plasma guns).
Constructs and machinery seem a likely theme given the interplanetary nature of the tomb.
What is the purpose of the 'dungeon'? Is it a crashed ship? An actual tomb or simply a storage facility for critters held in suspended animation? Or something entirely else? Again how does this complex relate to the greater story of the campaign?
Sounds like a fun session!
If you're the DM I would be looking on this board for alternate versions of the BBEG. I ran her as is from the book and that was my biggest regret of the campaign.
As written Protection from Evil essentially shuts her down. The combat really felt alot like how many times can she cast greater dispel magic until we can gank her? There is a sorcerer version of her floating on these boards that I almost used but didn't. I added more minions greater wraiths and Ileosa's clones to pad out the battle, I pretty certain I made the room bigger than on the map as well.
Despite that it was a memorable and great fight it just could've been better if I had used an alternate build than the one given.
Depends on the type of encounter you want but I often GM larger groups my usual bag of tricks include:
1) Lots of fodder/mooks. Can be more of a headache to run have sometimes pre-rolled or even rolled for them as groups (e.g. 6 minions get split into two groups of three).
2) I will sometimes max the hp of the monster (especially bosses, sub-bosses). Even for minions I'll generally increase them by 50%
3) Casters with abiltiies to control the battlefield (Black Tentacles is a good way to up the challenge in an encounter) and cast dispel magic are good for important battles.
4) My campaigns generally feature on-going villains so yes I do make use of the tailored encounter to target PCs but use these sparingly.
5) Ensure there's a good mix of opponents. I'm running JR and CC both campaigns feature particular type of monsters very often. So its important to throw them off a bit and dump a golem or aberration into an encounter every so often.
Re the WW, I'm not sure I would say that is necessarily the case for everyone or even a substantial amount of WW adherents. While they would respect his example, evil necromancers are a pretty ambitious and vain lot and the Tyrant's release would basically ensure they're stuck working for the 'boss'.
One thing I did was include a Tien NPC the party picked up in Kalsgard. He's an old storyteller and puppeteer called Chikamatsu. He's been helpful as a way to provide some background and stories of Minkai and Tian Xia specifically the oni and kami folklore as detailed from the background articles in the AP. As the party liked him quite a bit he's gotten more involved and become good friends with Koya. The party just recently learned that the old puppeteer is in fact a sovereign dragon whose been cursed by oni trickery and stuck in this frail human form. They'll have a chance to free him in book 6 as a valuable ally in the war.
The best person to ask is your GM really. I've been running JR (we just started Forest of Spirits) and the party includes a paladin with his mount. I've worked fairly well to ensure the player can actually use their mount regularly and think its been working well. Sometimes the player uses the mount indoors but not always. That said there's been some memorable mounted battles (nothing like charging frost giants on horseback) and I think out of many of the APs JR gives more chances for mounted characters to shine.
As others pointed out Book 3 should take place over late fall -winter - early spring. I started Brinewall in mid summer as the adventure and the trek from Varisia to the Crown of the World would in of itself take several months. Not to mention the time needed to prepare and outfit the caravan for such an expedition. So by the time they're ready to start the crossing its already at the end of trade season. So yeah winter darkness for much of the journey depending on whether the group decides to stop and stay for a protracted period of time somehwere.
I just finished Broken Moon with my group. Its been so far but yes the AP does need some Gm work to massage things. I've tried a few low-workload changes and embellishments to tie things together.
-First off the format of the AP is yes here is the werewolf advneture, the vampire adventure, Frankenstein, wallking dead etc. Tell the players that so they know to expect some monster of the week stuff. It may not be the most unified but I think most players will appreciate the chance to deal with all of these different foes.
-Make Petros and his past an important part over the entire AP which pretty well means you have to connect
Spoiler:Encourage your players to develop some backstories that you may be able to weave in as the AP unfolds.
Kendra as the Tyrant's heir and have at least Adivion present at Adventure#1.
-I had the party meet and work with Petros' old adventuring party. The old party all hated and distrusted each other for some past deed that took the first 3 books for the players to unravel -
the paladin in Petros' group learned Petros' wife was the heir to the Tyrant and killed her
-Play up the Palantine Eye. Make them full members in Book 2 and use the Eye as the good guys. I played up the threat of a traitor in their ranks
Spoiler:and invovled them as much as possible without hte party depending on them
Adivion as Petros' former student
-Play up Auren Vrood make him the BBEG for the first 3 books.
Spoiler:in the wings. I revealed him as the villain pretty well right at the end of book 3 as the party is thanked for killing Vrood a potential rival to him.
So going into Wake of the Watcher:
-My feeling is to take out the Raven's Head as something the WW desires. It'll simply be an artifact the party can find. I'm leaning towards some bargain with the deep ones/mi-go to craft a mutant plague for the WW to use as a weapon. Only problem is the plague they create gets loose and is tied to Shub-Niggurath (hence slugspawn infeestations, mutations etc.). The party essentially walks into a failed WW plan and has to contain the danger and maybe stop a shipment of the plague from reaching Caliphas. The Mi-Go will be simply be a higher form of intelligent deep ones.
-Ashes at Dawn is the most problematic. I get the whole Ann Rice approach but I kind of just want to do Castle Ravenloft but Gallowspire is pretty big on the dungeon stuff. Also there really isn't a compelling reason for the party to help the vampires and let alone clear Ramoska from any wrongdoing. I will probably just work to play up the bloodbrew elixir and the rift b/w vampire elders who want to keep the status quo and the young upstarts. Which pretty well makes it like the Blade movie but I can live with that. In fact maybe I'll just have most of the court killed off by the young rebel vamps. Not sure about the tailor with the deadly scarf though... I'd consider chucking this adventure but I know the group is anticipating the vampire adventure so have to make it work.
-SoG looks just fine.
Saw this on youtube. From the trailer I was expecting something truly terrible but surprsingly despite budget issues not bad and worth checking out. With a bit more money and some better talent (and a fight choreographer) could;ve been good. Liked how they essentially took the undercover cop story and put it in a fantasy milieu. And the Vermin Lord was delightfully evil and psycho.
That's been my concern and the safe choice is not to tamper with it too much so that the party simply picks up the dark rider lead and off they go to Illmarsh but I'm also leaning to having Adivon be known to the party as the architect of the conspiracy.
If that is the case the logical flow would be for the party to go to Caliphas and attempt to track down Adivon. I could run Ashes at Dawn as looking over it I don't think it would be that difficult to scale for a lower level, I like Wake of the Watcher and the Lovecraft mythos but the whole thing is quite the side trek and the Raven's Head isn't all that important.
The session is tonight and I'm tempted to leave it up to the party, reveal Adivon but also have the leads to follow that will take them to Thrushmoor. If the players want to ignore those leads and go to Caliphas and take the AP off the rails a bit I don't think its anything I can't recover from.
Hi all thought I would throw this out on the forum. So as per some other threads here and my own thoughts I've been making some changes to aspects of CC.
-The party has had a chance to meet and adventure with various NPCs that made up Petros' old adventuring party (Adivon, a halfing bard and aristocrat, a now disgraced paladin) and work with Kendra.
-I've played up Vrood's role to the point where the party considers him the chief antagonist of the campaign. The party has some idea that the components are for a powerful ritual possibly related to the Tyrant himself.
-My idea with Feldgrau is that it is actually a showdown b/w Vrood and Adivon. Vrood is planning on usurping Adivon and has rounded up several high ranking WW figures who might be a threat to his rule. By making a fiendish pact Vrood hopes to take charge of the WW and dispose of Adivon. Except that Adivon has realized this and is in fact directing the party to their confrontation with Vrood. Meanwhile Adivon is in town to ensure he snakes the ritual components from under Vrood's nose while everyone else is fighting in town.
So essentially the plan is the party will hunt down Vrood as in the module and dispose of him. Now I can leave it that the ritual components are mysteriously stolen (signs of a clever B & E, garrotted cultists etc.) and leave the party in the dark or have Adivon unmask himself arrogantly thanking the party for their help.
I would prefer the latter option as its good for a campaign to have a clear villain but I would think that the party knowing where Adivon is based would go straight to Caliphas after Broken Moon. Though I am thinking of having Adivon use his influence to make the party members wanted fugitives. Curious as to thoughts/suggestions. Thanks!
As other posters mentioned, Gallowspire is tough. I'd recommend if you wnat to keep things from too much high level wonkiness is at least advance the party to 10th level. Then you should have very few issues in book 5 and adapting book 6 will be slightly less of an issue. As for the mythic rules I'm not a fan of them myself and I think they just complicate game play more than anything else. So basically E10.
China Mievelle (highlights: Perdido Street Station, Kraken, The city and the city)
(so that someone mentioned the Scar which while an interesting book is I think one of his weaker ones)
Second vote Bernard Cornwell (particularly the Uhtred books have a bit of a D&D vibe in that the main character is a bit of a murderhobo)
Caedfael Ellis Peters (medieval mystery novels)