15 deaths in the first booklet would lead me to have a discussion with my DM about being realistic in the expectations for the game, and what a fun night of rpg'ing is supposed to feel like. (That is unless this is a pro tournament or something)
I have almost no use for the bestiary at all, mostly because I play "rules light" and wing my monsters quite a bit in session... but I personally would still place the bestiary far above the priority of the fiction, for me the bestiary serves the assumed purpose of an adventure (e.g. to help busy DMs run fantastic campaigns).
One thing I have loved about Paizo all the way back to when I was a subscriber of the magazines is that the company responds to customer feedback and I appreciate it.
Thank you for highlighting the logistical problems with a flowchart. I would agree with Warrant that if a flowchart is not feasible, perhaps more care could be taken on the "adventure synopsis" area. A step in the right direction would be if this small section focused on describing the flow of the adventure in a straight forward manner. That one change would make the product much more valuable to me. Thanks again for your responses everyone.
PS Tonight I am off to run my Skull and Shackles AP which started with "Souls for Smugglers Shiv", to "Raiders of the Fever Sea", onto "the lightless depths" (from Dungeon 144), "Tides of dread" (Dungeon 143) and tonight we are beginning "Curse of the Riven Sky". My "Skull and Shackles Campagin" managed to incorporate adventures from 3 different Paizo AP's and an module so far, as you can see I am a big fan mishmashing your excellent work :)
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Warrant I hope you don't feel that my point is too much of a tangent and that I am hijacking the thread, but I take it since you agreed with one of my other threads you see how are two issues are related.
I agree that the adventure summary is useful, but in my opinion it is often not detailed enough. A dungeon master should be able to read it and know in general what happens in that adventure. I would find this particularly helpful because I often read 5-6 adventures before picking one that is suitable for my group (even when I run APs, I customize quite a bit). I imagine I am not alone. I'll use "Raiders of the Fever Sea" as an example.
Here is the summary for the first part of Raiders:
The adventure begins with the PCs in command of their new ship, the Man’s Promise. Despite their successful mutiny, they know that Captain Barnabas Harrigan is not likely to let the slight against him pass and that he will attempt to find them. To throw him off the trail, they must refit the ship to change its appearance and its name. To accomplish this, the PCs sail to a dry dock called Rickety’s Squibs, where they learn of the legend of Tidewater Rock and the good fortune that is supposedly brought by securing control of the castle there. Regardless of whether they choose to take on the Rock, the PCs know they need to increase their fame and fortune before they will be welcomed in the waters of the Shackles as Free Captains in their own right.
My problem with the way this is written, is it does not actually describe what happens in the first part of the adventure. Instead of solely summarizing the adventure. It talks about last adventure, it talks about what an NPC who is not in the adventure is likely to do, it foreshadows what the players might want and earn in future adventures.
Here's what actually happens::
The adventure begins with the players in charge of a pirate ship. The players are notified by their crew that they should "squib the ship", which means change it's appearance to throw off Captain Barnabase from finding them. The players set sail to "rickety squibs" and negotiate for this service. While they are waiting for there boat to be "squibbed", they are invited to stay and to explore the small community. A number of events happen during there stay that give the players a chance to be heroes. Some of these events include:
Writing what happens and limiting on the overly descriptive prose would be a great help. Sure it might increase space a bit, but there are PLENTY of wastes of space in a typical adventure. For example, notice on page 6 there is a SECOND summary on the index page, again one that fails to tell me what actually happens however.
Another waste of space, how about the first paragraph of the adventure background
The Free Captains are the most obvious menace of that maze of hell-cursed waterways and a thousand perilous isles and knife-edged reefs called the Shackles, but they are not its only danger, nor the worst. Nearly a century ago, Free Captain Cyrus Wolfe, a black-hearted rogue with an even blacker gift for the dark arts, plied the waters off the western coast of Garund and brought fear to hundreds of ship’s captains and crews. His daring daylight raid on the fortified Thuvian port of Aspenthar directly under the nose of that city-state’s admiralty left a dozen of the principality’s warships in flames and over a hundred of its citizens carried off as captives for ransom. For that grand audacity, Wolfe was offered the Hurricane Crown by his fellow Free Captains, but it is said that he simply laughed in their faces.
How does this paragraph help me run the AP in any way? I had to read it 3-4 times just to understand it, feels like english class all over again.
So I think where I see Warren and my complaints linked, is that they are suggestions to actually HELP DMs. I don't care if it's graphical or written, but I would like a section dedicated to telling the busy DM how the adventure is going to work. Sometimes when I read a paizo adventure, it feels like I am reading a well written story. Interesting, with depth, amazing and detailed. But thats not what I need from an adventure, I just want some cool scenarios that fit my campaign so that I can entertain my friends tomorrow.
For all the "extra content" in the adventure, (e.g. a 5 page story from pg 72 - 77) no one thought that it might be helpful to instead use that space to present a better reason why exactly the players would want to attack tidewater rock, or summarize the adventure.
Don't get me wrong, solid 5 star on paizo work, especially in comparison to the competition (don't get me started on WOTC). But a lil more attention to busy DM's would certainly make me a happier customer.
Thank you. +100 on this.
Sometimes reading through the forums I wonder if I am in the complete minority or if this is just a result of a "filter bubble". I must say my players would have little to no interest in running Golarion. Nevertheless I as DM love some guidance to flesh out our world, and adaptable APs are what I would definitely pay for.
I agree completely. I also think the "adventure synopsis" area should be increased, this plot map might be a good way to do that.
I shop adventures a lot. I have almost the entire Dungeon Magazine print run, as well as most Adventure Paths in print. So often I will open one to see if it is the kind of adventure I need/would like to run. I have to say that Paizo's adventures greatest weakness is that it is really hard to get to what the adventure is really about. There is so much background and distractions that I can't scan an adventure. Unfortunately reading a couple Adventure path modules is often more work then just creating my own adventure.
I feel that in the modules there are a lot of distractions. I would love to be able to pick up an adventure, look it over and say "good I'll run this, and just change a couple things". Instead I have to spend hours reading and learning about backgrounds and history and submechanics, and motives of ancient NPCs that aren't even in the adventure, that it's too tough to get to just learn about the adventure. It often causes a headache. More then once after a couple hours of reading a Paizo module I have had to cancel the gaming session the next day because I just wasn't ready.
Don't get me wrong, so much of what Paizo creates is amazing, and above and beyond the bar of its competitors. You really make amazing products and I love the adventure paths especially. I am just starting to feel that they are a little intimidating and unfocussed to the DM who wants less work not more.
I understand that many of the things I dislike (overly complicated backgrounds, new submechanics, history lessons, short stories, discussion of NPCs who don't appear in the adventure, discussion of facts that my players probably will never learn etc) are probably liked by a lot of your customers. I just wonder if there might be a better way to separate that information to make your modules more accessible for all.
I would imagine if I was in a one shot adventure, I'd be really daring, and assume I could escape or handle the first NPCs that are aggressive to me. Unfortunately that's not the case in Wormwood Mutiny, the players really have to wait a lot and bide there time. I think this is a great adventure for a one shot, but I would do some heavy mods, and yeah, definitely get rid of a lot of the NPCs, too many distractions for players who don't need the investment in a oneshot.
I am mixed about this AP. I think it has a real good start, up until halfway about book 2, then I think it kind of tanks and never really recovers. THere are plenty of things in there that my players just wouldn't want to do. And I find a lot of it actually takes MORE prep for me as a DM then just writing an adventure from scratch by myself. I am starting to find this with a lot of Paizo APs unfortunately. Great plots, great depth, great stories, great art, but too little focus on the adventure, too little focus on how we will get pcs from one hook to another, too little focus on why they would want to do things. Not to mention the amount of submechanics and stories in the APs are a real distraction.
Theres just too many distractions, if I have a game session tomorrow, I want to pick up an adventure and say, "yep well do this sounds awesome, let me just add a couple things and change this... perfect". Instead I have to spend hours reading and not really gettin a sense of whats going to happen, learning soooo much about backgrounds and motives and history from 20 years ago that it's too tough to get to the adventure. I'm often left with a headache and a worry that I may have to cancel the gaming session. Like why am I reading about Ship to ship combat and infamy points? THis is an adventure path so I expect an adventure, not a rules expansion for a very minority of play groups who don't have enough rules to keep track of in their game.
Just my two cents, I really appreciated skull and shackles for starting off a campaign with a great idea and getting the pirate thing "started" though. I question why theres so many dungeons, I question a lot of encounters that just assume the players will want to do it "because", I question how many players will really want to be slaver/pirates, I question how the sheer amount of NPC's in some of these adventures is manageable by even the best DM.
Hmmm Thanks for your reply, but maybe I forgot to say that I am not using the "pathfinder" setting. I pick and use adventures here and there, and the first couple I used were from Skull and Shackles, but I have since moved quite a bit away from that story line (I stopped following the path after book 2). In my campaign, the cheliaxians are actually controlled by Aboleths, the PCs don't know this yet, but forsee the players having to recruit mythical beings to help them in their fight against the aboleths/chelaxians.
For now tho, I am just trying to make a really cool adventure where the PCs arrive in a town and find it being ravaged by warships. Anyone know of any that I could modify?
Towards the end of 3.5 I was looking for something new. I was EXCITED for 4th edition. I had read Monte Cookes Arcana Evolved, and switched my whole group over, loved it, thought it was such a great improvement on 3.5, if only it used standard races and classes. I was eager to see what ideas 4th would bring to the table.
Then WOTC decided to call some other game D&D. I didn't like that other game, though we tried to like it for a few years.
I could see a pathfinder 2.0. I might buy it, but it would have to be different enough, and similar enough, at the same time. Different enough to interest me, similar enough that it still feels like D&D.
Im looking forward to checking out the mythic book thats coming out. Maybe that will perk my interest :)
Thanks, very much everyone for your advice. My players found the spell "skeleton crew" as suggested, they then went to Rickety Squibs, who offered them a way to insert "rowing" holes. THough he kept saying the boat was to small to allow for all the rowers to sleep, the pcs said not to worry about it because they thought these particular rowers would have no need of sleeping.
My players are now roaming the high seas with two NPCs, fishguts who they have come to trust as their adviser, and a troglodyte/jar jar binks type npc they have found helpful in another adventure (used a savage tide adventure from dungeon 144) Besides these two npcs, most of the ship stuff is handled by the skeletons! Sort of a great way to not have to deal with a roamin horde of npcs, I don't think any of my players (nor I) wants to get over 4-5 NPC names to remember at any one time, and undead serve as a great way to handwave the ships mundane tasks without having to deal with pirates who may mutinee, have demands etc. This also gives my necromancer something cool to be in charge of.
Hi, I'm sort following skull and shackles but with some heavy modifications. I've incorporated a bit of savage tide as well as some other aps.
For my next adventure the pc's are traveling to a town Fishguts has advised will be a great a place to sell and trade their loot.
I am planning for that port to be under attack by cheliaxians when they arrive, and have the pc's intervene. Some encounters I am considering include:
-the pc's attacking a ship with ballista
I am fishing for some neat ideas to flesh this out a bit... does anyone have ideas or know of an adventure along the same line I could use for ideas? It doesnt have to be a naval adventure, as I am sure a "arrive in a town while it's being attacked" adventure would give me lots of ideas.
For once I'd like to see an AP with a "light" amount of backstory. Adventures that go easy on the "adventure background" and increase the size and detail of the "adventure synopsis". I'd like more content about how the players might get to this adventure, what they might do during it, and less content about what some NPC did 1000 years ago or what some other NPC plotted to do in in the final adventure that my players may never see.
I could really get into an AP that promised to be about the story, plot and encounters the PLAYERS will confront. Attention to making it make sense for the DM so they can run great campaigns. More sidebars with "what if your players want to do something else" advice. More encounters of a varied nature with new and unusual challenges.
For the amount of attention paid to campaign background, npc motivation and other aspects my players rarely get to see, I always find it frustrating when an AP forgets to address how players will move from one AP plot point to another, or when they pay so little attention to the tactics monsters will display during the actual adventure. I'd like this to be a theme for an AP soon :) I also find the "new sub mechanics" and "stories" in the back of the AP's as wasted space as well, some of the AP's have incredibly complicated adventures with many monsters, npc's and there is often very little "tactical" explanation which I would find useful.
This isn't about format or quality control, this is about an AP theme.
Book 1 from serpents skull is indeed good, and simple enough to run. Sandboxy enough to let your players explore too, I like it.
My top vote however, would be "the champions belt" from the age of worms adventure path. Think you can still get it in PDF
So tomorrow my players take over a pirate ship and sail for rickety squibs and or attack some coastal villages.
One of my players is a necromancer and will certainly want to have his skeletons perform a duty. The ship will also have some NPCs that volunteer to help.
What could undead do? I was thinking that they could be underneath "rowing" but thats not common in a pirate ship is it? Maybe security/initial boarding party as well?
Also, what are the general roles in a ship that you used?
Sorry, I have to disagreeing with reading all the modules.
1 - Thats a lot of reading, like a lot
My advice is read the first module, modify it until your sure your players will like it, then read the summary of the next module and consider how you will get them to link. Dont worry about the rest until you get there (if you get there)
(PS Perfect example, Im running skull and shackles, all over the background is Cheliax this, Cheliax that. The main bad guy is a traitor, allied with cheliax. But if you read the adventures theres almost no way to find this out, theres almost no encounters with cheliax and... most importantly many players won't care that the bad guy is allied with cheliax, they care about interesting encounters and cool scenarios in which they get to find and defeat the bad guy.)
Of course this is all just my and my 2 groups two cents. Other players may have totally different views of what they value
Hi my campaign is transitioning into skull and shackles from another adventure. When we last left the adventure, the players were stranded on an island, where they lit a signal fire and a ship is coming to "Rescue them". I was thinking about using this as a transition to get their on boat.
Im thinking the ship is a cheliax ship, and they are coming to take the players prisoner. The players job is to overcome the ship. They are level 4, and one of our players is a necromancer who dreams of being a piratee with undead sailors. This would lead into ap book 2, with the players going to rickety squibbs.
So the question is how do I make this believable? I want to stay away from the prisoner/mutiny storyline. Would it be cheesey if it was relatively easy to take over the ship? How would you modify the story to be more interesting and believable?
All good points. Han Solo did run afoul of other scoundrels (like Jabba) so certainly there should be time for that too. I've only read the campaign outline, and the adventuress completely till the end of book 3, but right now it seems like the majority of the AP is spent dealing with "Jabbas" and only the occasional sidequest on the empire.
I'd like to flip that ratio a bit. I find my players are fickle, have short term memories, and if the "theme" isn't clear they often lose interest.
We do exactly that. Saturday, about once a month for 5 hours. Though we play a bit of an accelerated game, I like to level them once an adventure as a group (so a level every month), and I remove a lot of the "junk" from the adventures. We usually get through an adventure per 2 sessions. If we went slower, I could see it getting boring, players want to feel they accomplished soemthing by the end of the night, so if I have to remove some minions from some rooms, or delete a side quest, thats what I generally do.
Totally Agree. I remove all the information that my players have no way of finding out, and the information that has no direct relevance to the AP. This generally makes it much better, and I end up getting adventures that are 30% smaller. Still I wish I didn't have to read them to unfocus me from the actual adventure.
Some of the AP's in general can be hard for a new GM. I have found many of them to be daunting, with too much background text that had no relevance to my players and too little focus on dealing with what the players might actually want to do.
My advice would be to take it 1-2 adventures at a time, and not go too far ahead into a story your players may not want to follow. Take the first adventure of an AP and read/modify it until you think your players will love it. Only look at the next one when you have hooked them and are starting to think about transitioning, take the AP one adventure at a time.
Skull and Shackles and Shattered star seem like good candidates for new DMs. I'm running Skull and Shackles right now and am having to do signifigant work to make it fit for my players (I don't think it fits with their idea of a pirate). My personal favorite recommendation for DMs with a simple enough story, and straightforward fun and engaging adventures was Age of Worms. But that is 3.x not PF, so if that might be an issue depending how closely you adhere to the rules.
So in my last post (http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2p685?Enemy-Race-or-Empire-in-the-shackles) we discussed having the player pirates have an enemy empire that they can be pirates against. I thought a good idea was using Cheliax, and modifying the setting a bit so that they held Port Peril as well were encouraging pilgrimage in small towns on the island. I don't see my players burning towns, raiding merchant ships and so on without an "evil enemy race", Cheliax serves well for that. I have also added in that in that the players small hometown was razed by the evil Chiliaxian empire. This should serve as a sufficient back story for the AP.
Some things need to be modified in the AP to do this. For example:
The first adventure worm wood mutiny makes a little less sense in this idea, I want pirates to be good rebels, not evil slavers. So instead my players were escaping their recently razed village by overcoming a merchant ship. They had a little diversion being stranded on an island (I used Souls from Smugglers Shiv) and they are now sailing to "rickety squibs" to get the merchant ship cleaned and painted so that it does not match a chelixian stolen ship to draw attention (they also brought a helpful former pirate with them).
The second adventure (raiders of the fever sea) works quite well. I will run it mostly as is. The part where they invade a fortress will be turned into a Cheliaxian fortress, and theres even a gem of an encounter where they have to avoid a cheliaxian warship.
Adventures 3 & 4 don't really seem to fit however (I only skimmed em). I don't know why my players would want to race in a "regatta" in, and I don't like the idea of a hurricane king so much as I want the focus to be on Cheliax.
Adventures 5 & 6 seem to fit right in though. Recruiting other pirates to there cause to defend against a looming invasion.
Anyone else modifying the AP like this. Got ideas on how to modify and any possible alternative adventures that might take the place of the Regatta?
Yeah I am putting a lot more of the threat from Cheliax into things. I want a more lovable scoundrel AP ie Han Solo, Firefly, Jack Sparrow than I do killing, raping & torturing pirates. An evil enemy but a lawless and seedy setting seemed the easist way to accomplish this.
Han solo, exactly. So Cheliax is the empire then. I think I'll definetely turn Port Peril into Cheliax controlled, and have insert onto the coast a bunch of small Cheliax pilgrim towns for the pirates to raid.
Hi I am using the AP to run a sandbox style pirate campaign. I made my own first adventure, and at the end of our last session the players are on an island, and a ship is coming toward them (hopefully to rescue the players). I plan one having the ship full of an enemy race, so that the players have an encounter seize the ship and inherit their own pirate ship (they find a prisoner who will support them, show them the ways of the sea, etc). This will lead inyto Adventure 2 of Skull and shackles, they will go to port, fix their ship, and then go in search of plunder etc.
But one of the main differences I want to introduce into this AP is an enemy race or kingdom. Basically bad guys who have invaded a place the players hold dear, so that the player pirates can hunt down their ships, forts and loot them with glee.
I have read a bit of the AP and the campaign setting book and I have yet to find a likely candidate. Looking for maybe some foreign invaders who have attacked a place in the shackles and now the players can give em some revenge. Does anyone have suggestions that might fit well with the setting/campaign?
Looking over the campaign theres a few things I don't want to incorporate. I dont like the idea of the free captains, or a head pirate guy that they need to seek approval from. I'd rather them be on boats, hunting down "enemies", invading small towns, chasing great treasures (possibly in dungeons). So any advice on how to incorporate this AP into that theme would be welcome. Adventure 2 seems to fit pretty well. But the idea of racing in a "captains regatta" or setting dinner for other pirates not so much (although Im sure I can find a reason for them to do that.... maybe they need to impress other pirates to help them invade an enemy fleet?)
Anyone else got ideas like this or advice on how to modify without modifying too much?
Just updating the post. The adventure went amazing, over two sessions. I got great feedback. It was mostly the "smugglers shiv" adventure from Serpents Skull AP (only the players started in a dungeon, and escaped onto the island to confront the cannibals and explore).
Interestingly enough, once the players found a wrecked boat on the island they started trying to repair it and become pirates. Ive now decided to use the second adventure of the pirate themed Skull and Shackles AP. The players will get help to fix the boat, and be told of a place they can sail that will completely repair there boat and recieve some help on the ways of a pirate.
Thanks a lot for your reply. Love your advice about fleshing out the dungeon first, great thing to focus on, especially the senses.
Yeah, the other DM will simply be a player with a power - making powerful magic items. This is what he always did as a DM, hed make wacky items (that were either very what overpowered, or were over the top in a story way but not so over powered) and he was good at narrating what it looks like, how it works, and making the players love the item. I've been DMing for a while, and if I toot my own horn I'd say I usually run more negaging adventures then him (with the help of dungeon). So we thought maybe Ill run the adventures, and let him be a powerful artificer. The rules are less of a concern... were big fudgers, I can always give the monsters a lot more damage and HP if I need to.
Love the paper towel idea, what an awesome idea to give a signal that means - "final judgement - lets move on."
Thanks for your response, I was also wondering if anyone thought my players might think the idea of being revived by a necromancer at level 1 as a hokie idea. But Ill give it a try, has to be better then meeting in a tavern :)
Hi so, I have a weird idea for the start of a campaign and I thought the many creative people on this site could give me great some feedback.
First off, this campaign we are going to try something different, one of the players (who often dms), we all agree he makes amazing items, makes them come to life with the littlest of things, they cackle or glow or do neat things. Its what he does best. So him and I talked and I thought it would be neat if he played in my campaign but had a "power" where he could create items, like an artificer. So it would sort of be co-dming, only that would be his only area, and it would "make sense" in the story.
I also like weird starts to a campaign, heres what I was thinking.
Another high level party of adventurers is in a dungeon, they are looking for a powerful artifact that grants the wearer the ability to make magic items. Unfortunately the whole party save the necromancer named Leshrac dies in the dungeon from some poisonous monster. Leshrac revives his party, but unfortunately for some reason, it doesnt work... they are brought back to life, but they do not retain their memories, or skills, they are just level 1 adventurers who have an urge to follow Leshrac. Yep... thats my players. I know some of my players will find it cool Ill even play up how their arms were ripped apart and they have scars, one of my players will hope hes undead and be pumped to follow an undead wizard around.
Leshrac will mention that actually this is a good turn of events, more treasure for him. So he will order them to continue on, and in a couple rooms they meet a giant serpent that is protecting the artifact. They defeat the serpent but Leshrac dies at the end. The players are free, but dont know how to get out of this dungeon. After some hints from a note Leshrac has on him, they find the artifact, an arm that lets the wearer create magic items.
Im thinking of running this with the the first adventure of "serpents skull AP", smugglers shiv. The players escape the dungeon, battling low level serpent-people along the way (maybe leshrac just put them all to sleep instead of slaughtering them) only to find that the dungeon was on an island. How do they get off the island? build a boat, there is a lighthouse but it seems a cannibal tribe lives on it and they would have to be dealt with first.
This would be the story arc for the first 3-4 sessions. Revived by a necromancer, get a powerful artifact, escape the dungeon, find a way to get off the island/explore the island.
What do you think about this idea? Any ideas to flesh it out, or make it better? I know it's kind of railroady at first but I am less concerned about that as my players dont seem to mind that as long as it serves to make a good story. And of course it would only be the first bit of the first session that would be railroady.
Also one of my other players wants to be a necromancer.. so maybe he gets leshracs spell book or something. Or maybe leshrac comes back in some other form in the future, was he just using them all along? I donno :)
Just looking for some real gems in different APs.
My faves from the ones I ran
AOW - Champions Belt (or whispering cairn)
I'm planning a campaign, and am considering stringing using adventures from different APs, so your suggestions may point me in the right direction :)