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I've intentionally not procured endless ammo or any other game mechanic that would eliminate the handicap of having to reload. I like the challenge and game play of having to monitor your ammo.
I probably fall in the middle. I generally customize and add to the AP to meet player expectations and work their backgrounds into the overall story. I also add a lot of my own ideas, NPC etc, steal from other GM on this site etc. I have omitted encounters and story elements that didn't fit for my group.
I think personalizing is the most important job any GM can do when preparing and running an AP. You also need to adjust as the campaign moves forward. If PC's become attached to a particular NPC that's not fleshed out in the source material then build on it. An escaped minor bad guy with a two line paragraph that escapes your PC's can become a memorable bad guy. That caved in tunnel on the AP Map can be yours to expand for some wicked cool idea that's been floating around in your head.
Personalization is what makes AP's more fun for everyone!! And allows DM's to let their personal creative juices flow!
I have GM'd Shackled City, and Curse of the Crimson Throne to completion and Rise of the Runelords and Age of Worms past the half-way point. I have played and completed Savage Tide, Second Darkness, and Jade Regent and currently play Carrion Crown. We have had character deaths and maybe one almost TPK. Jade Regent was the only AP my PC did not die in, and I was below zero multiple time in all of them.
I do not consider, in any way, any of the chapters of these AP's meat grinders. IMHO most PC deaths are directly related to bad luck (x3 crit with a lance) or a bad idea (moving into the open field with enemy cavalry within charging distance vs. taking cover like the rest of the party)
Our current Carrion Crown party is anything but "optimized" (that word and "build" always leave a bad taste in my mouth). We had a kick-butt 12 round battle at the end of book 3 in which my PC died. Why did he die? Two reason. Fate - Vampiric Touch crit and bad play on my part. Became impatient and made my move on the bad guy one round to early.
End result I died - but it was an awesome, fun kick-butt fight and now I get to role-play my PC's touch with death since I was raised.
I usually custom name and often design my PC weapons as well, giving them unique physical and occasionally emotional characteristics. My bladebound magus' sword moans when I choose to use a weapon other than her. My ulfen sword and board fighter has a longsword named Heart-ripper and named Thorak's Storm. My Inquisitor's repeating crossbow is known as The 8th Act.
I also don't limit customizing/naming to weapons either. Anything unique, that adds flavor to my PC's is a good thing or spend extra time invisioning.
My PC was an Ulfen fighter, heavily inspired by Bernard Cornwell's Uthred character, so I really enjoyed the earlier installments better the later. I also tend to like lower and mid level play over high. Here is how I ranked them from most favorite to least favorite.
Night of Frozen Shadows
Mythic Super Jager Overlord wrote:
Congrats! I hope some day our group is able to achieve this mantle of success. My players are still in the arctic. They are getting ready to go "talk" to the dragon Vegsundvaag.
Vegsundvaag was one of my PC's highlight. Big crit with my longsword Heartripper for the kill!
This past Friday, April 18 2014 - The group I am lucky enough to have gamed with on a weekly bases for the past 5 years or so succeeded in placing Ameiko Kaijitsu to the throne. We had a blast and special thanks to DM Anthony who did a wonderful job over the past year (about average for our group to finish an AP). This is my groups fourth completed AP the others being (Second Darkness, Curse of the Crimson Throne, Savage Tide)
Final group composition:
Ingvar "Bloodtooth" Ingvarson - Ulfen, Shielded Fighter 16
We still have some cleaning up to do, our caravan and its friends are missing, presumably still in the grasp of the Jade Regents surviving supporters.
As a special gift - we earned Mythic Tier I!
I agree Kudaku condensing a 5 feat progression down to this few feats has the potential to be a bit unbalancing. Add to that, mitigation of the most substantial penalty, -4 to attack for fighting defensively, of the style to an inconvenient -1, and the fact that combats are dominated by melee attack gives the opportunity for a free attack every round at you highest BAB -1.
I think keeping the Fighting defensively penalty at -4 and keeping the feat progression inclusive unless the PC actually has "x" levels of Monk would keep this more in line, and prevent the one level dip that gives these substantial benefits to easily to the +1 BAB classes.
Today a collection of pre-biblical masks goes on display in Isreal and it made me think about one of the coolest design features that has precipitated throughout most of the published pathfinder materials are masks. It seems every AP holds one or two unique veils with the first, Xanesha's Medusa Mask still being my favorite. Here's the link to the article http://news.yahoo.com/ancient-masks-display-jerusalem-160209806.html
Any one else enjoy the Masks of Golarion?
S'mon - If you're interested I have an incredible amount of detailed information from CoCT campaign I would be more than happy to share. It all rests on my google share drive, so contact me with an email and I would be happy to share.
I currently play an inquisitor in our Carrion Crown campaign the only other caster is an oracle w/ the life mystery and we also have an alchemist. We're 8th level and beginning to feel the lack of an arcane caster. The oracle w/ the life mystery heals better than most clerics of equivalent level. IMHO the real challenge in groups lacking a full caster is access to certain benchmark spells at later levels than those of full casters. I feel that in published materials, where challenge ratings are balanced in part by the assumption of a standard four food group with full arcane/divine caster style party, access to benchmark spells increases the difficulty of many challenges; especially capstone encounters which tend to be CR +3 or better.
That said, it's fun to utilize our resources in different ways to overcome the challenges with a different utility belt. Encounters last longer, new spells, equipment and tactics are developed. Resources husbanded, terrain and stealth are used more prominently and wands and potions seem to have usefulness beyond the norm.
I still our parties lack of a full arcane caster will be an exceptionally difficult hurdle to overcome at the higher levels, but it will be fund finding out if I'm wrong.
Ellis Mirari wrote:
God forbid your character isn't 100% effective against every opponent. That's just wrong.
So so true, one of the few disturbing trends I notice in PF is that every class must be 100% effective vs every creature type; or in every encounter type every class must have something to do.
MY GM does not allow weapon enhancement to by pass specific material DR. It has started to hurt my character's effectiveness and quote "I think the weapon enhancement rule is bullsh$t and is a lazy persons way out of being perpared
Been my house rule since Pathfinder Beta first proposed the change, and I will never change it. Just like 50% miss chance vs. 1/2 damage vs incorporeals.
Jason S wrote:
I don't advise it if it's not something your group would find fun. Perhaps a large combat battle will be in the offering as a follow on after the AP is complete. The ending of this AP is very ripe for follow on campaigning.
What makes this perhaps the most intriguing of all the AP's to date are the numerous possibility's presented to the PCs and DM on how this entire AP can payout and end. Before KM, CoCT easily offered the probability of a throne to any aspiring PC. Civil War, Revolution, Political intrigue, mass warfare, resistance movements; really all are wonderful and easily workable plots which the DM/Party can easily work into the AP framework.
So yeah, it's easy to work either into the story at any level or degree to best meet your players needs. Let us know what you do and how it plays out.
It's been awhile since I've studied the source material for this AP. However, I don't think the arc will be significantly hindered, one possible outcome would be if the party defeats Krojun and his burn riders but do not slay them you could spin this into grudging acceptance from Krojun and you continue the arc.
If they kill everyone, then the party might have a very hostile trip across the Cinderlands to reach Scarwall.
Is this may also be a great way to weave the kothunites into the story and have them broker a peace between Krojun and the party.
I completed my groups follow-on to CotCT over the holidays. I'm an old school gamer and a big fan of WoG, and I really enjoy bringing the old modules back to life for my younger group to enjoy. I converted S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth for my follow on. The party's paladin while investigating under Castle Korvosa was imprisoned by Sorshen in the Prison of Zagig (I renamed it the prison of Eros)to drive the party. I used King Arobasti's opening of Bloodsworn Vale as a cover for his search for Sorshen's greatest treasures and the caverns, and made Drelzna Sorshen's daughter. I came up with this idea shortly after we finished the campaign in 2012. Everyone had a blast, and I worked the new mythic rules in for the party by giving Drelzna a few mythic tiers and having her defeat act as the catalyst for the players to take their first mythic tier.
One of CotCT strengths lies in the ease with which it lends itself to follow on campaigns and adventures. I have half-baked plans to convert the 3.5 Dungeon magazine levels of Maure Castle into Sorshen's tomb.
This was the third AP I ran to completion and I loved it so much I would buy a ROTRL style edition just to have it. I will echo the suggestion of others - print the PDF. I actually do this when running any of the AP. I print all 6 pdf (adventure only) and bind them. That way my players never really know what chapter they're in, though they're all good a figuring it out based on level and other clues.
Like you I despise bloat! For my own PC's I almost never go outside the core and advanced players guides. When I DM those two volumes are open to everyone...Anything else from any other source (no 3rd party ever)I have absolute veto on. If I approve a spell, feat, or whatever from a splat item I try to do so "in game". A new spell maybe found is an ancient library or whatever.
As a player when I have to sit down beside those 500hp damage/round at 1st level dudes, I let them do their thing and just have fun playing my PC. What makes RPG cool is everyone takes something different from the experience and has fun with it.
Crane Wing, as Kudaku pointed out, is nothing more than the melee equivalent of Deflect Arrows. What makes it better is the fact that there is a propensity for melee combat over ranged combat in your average Pathfinder game thus it sees far more use than Deflect Arrow. But, I agree with you 666bender.
No experience with this sort of thing. However, I am quite certain Serithtial will not go along with it. If I remember correctly the sword is aligned LG. An interesting play would be is the Cressida does redeem Sabrina would be to have the sword in her hand in an end game. Sabrina may also bring some Gray Maidens with her. If I remember correctly she "personally" inspired several of the maidens.
You know, I have always adjucated it this way when I DM. Just seemed logical to me.
I think this can be a good idea. However, most published material is written assuming PC will have access to certain level based assests (spells/abilities, ect). Keeping PC's below that, even with an exta one or two PC's can have inadvertent side effects, so DM's have to watch this and maybe throw a bone once in awhile like a dispel magic scroll or some such.
I published an ingame newsletter "The Korvosa Chronicle" and forshadowed the Cinderlander there, and yes he was a wonderful NPC I had a lot of fun with while the PC's were in the Cinderlands and he was awesome in the final showdown.
I really like what you're doing with forshadowing and bringing the different NPC to the forefront, especially the Grey Maidens. I converted my maidens to cavaliers, making them their own order, and tweaking the standard cavalier suite of abilities to better fit a dismounted order. I played them like nazi stormtroopers, and once the PC left Korvosa had them bully the friends they left behind.
Gaedren died in the first scene and I let him lay.
The Arkona's didn't play a big part in my campaign, however I do have follow on plans for Glorio since they let him escape.
If you interested Icedmik I have a metric crap ton of documentation from my campaign on my Google drive I would be happy to share with you.
I agree whole heartedly. I ran this AP and highly recommend it. I loved RotRL but for me this is even better. That said however, to run any AP, especially this one, without all the chapters I feel is very difficult.
My group enjoyed STAP, CotCT, and Second Darkness all with 6+ players, and you are correct it is a very difficult DMing act to balance encounters, rewards and spotlight time. There are plenty of options on how to balance this and I found that no single option was applicable across and entire AP. Tangent101 is correct that a narrative base leveling structure is probably the better choice over flat XP. But otherwise, keeping it all level can be a challenge.
If I do it again, I will also have her support the boggards, wraiths, and devils with her bardic skills. The critters at the sunken queen, with any Castle Korvosa survivors, and Ileosa supporting them will certainly challenge PC's. And like CaroRose mentioned she could easily do it all from inside the safety of the sunkenqueen.
From my own experience ( with an also powerfully rebuilt Ileosa ), the party will easily stomp her and the minions she has with her. Unless they walk in without any mental protections like, say, Protection from Evil, in which case it can turn ugly, fast. My guys went in warded and didn't were too challenged. The action economy works something fierce against Ily.
Exactly what happend to my group they warded up and stormed her. I had 6-8 PC's who really broght the bacon.
When I DM'd this for my group, I gave them one sentance of out advice on how to succeed
Cheating or the perception of cheating will nullify or lessen the accomplishment and be frowned upon by the quah. Completing the trial in the correct spirit, the spirit of the Shoanti, is what counts!!
I had a Shoanti PC and she informed all party members that she felt the use of magic in any way would count against that member and perhaps the party as a whole. I did nothing to discount that, and infact would have said the same thing if asked.
By encouraging PC's of this level not to use magic you enable them to work together as a team, come up with some great plans, and create a much more dramatic and memorable event.
The bard chanted and sang encouragement to inspire the party occassionally, the Shoanti barbarian ran from her totem to the wizards to help keep it up, ropes and teamwork hauled them to the top, it was great fun to watch PC's with a good bit of magical power at there hands work out problems in a simpler manner.
When the Bullettes attacked the PC's often fought in shifts running from totem to totem to keep them up while battling the monsters, it was really quite fun.
Of course all of this happened as bolts of lighting flashed, thunder roared and wind howled.
Yep good times!!
I struggle with this same question alot in my games. I prefer as a player and a DM to earn/reward my magic in game, similar to Yora's method above.
Everytime a player develops a new PC it begins with the visualization of what the PC will grow up to be and this includes the magic items he or she will posses. As a DM I think we should work at meeting that players visualization, after all that is part of the fun of developing and playing a PF character. As a DM you have a lot of expectations to meet. A player who is excited about his axe swinging, shield bashing Viking with all the feats in place to bash Saxon skulls is going become very disinterested if the campaign doesn't give him the opportunity to obtain the uber-arms he drooled about when he developed his Viking.
I think everyone agrees that after a memorable encounter, having a hero pluck a magic weapon from your slain foes hand, is more satisfying than going to magic-mart and plopping a small sack of gold on the counter.
Just as memorable from my standpoint is the crafting of magic. The visual of the party wizard proudly presenting an enchanted blade to his companion after a week of nail-bitting crafting is just as strong.
However, magic-mart style does have a place in the game. It allows for direct interaction with otherwise ignored NPC's. DM's spend hours developing a living breathing community for their players to experience and the magic-mart gives these hapless NPC's a chance to shine. It also moves the pace of the game forward focusing on the action and plot more so than the mundane.
I have noticed I tend to use magic-mart early in my camapaign to establish relationships with NPC's to help immerse the players in my world and set the mood. As the campaign progresses the other two methods of availabiltiy become more common.
I don't think every item should have a story behind it, but certainly some should, especially if they are a focus of the campaign (Serithial in CocT for example). That said, the only story of the item that really matters is the one your player writes while using it!
Ulitmately, its a balance of all these and more that is probably best.
Dismounts soap box!
I agree with many of the comments by those with far more expertise in RPG design than myself, but like them I have been gaming and Dming since the 70's so I know a little about playing, and frankly this monster WILL produce many memorable encounters. Employed by crafty designers and GM's the Argopelter will prove the metal of many adventuring parties. A ranged combatant with superior mobility against most parties in an environment that offers it a ready supply of ammunition and concealment will be a twist many parties of experienced players have never faced. Melee heavy PC's will be forced to pull out the bow, with the dry rotted string, they've been carrying around since PC creation; ranged PC's will be given a chance to go shot-for-shot against it. Spellcasters have a plethora of unique ways to deal with an Argopelter, be it direct damage, battlefield control spells, summoned creatures to chase him through the trees or what ever.
Encounters with an Agropelter are more than a stick-thowing-monkey. The Agropelter's mobility and accuracy are going to turn them into running firefights as PC's rush from cover to cover firing off bow shots and ranged spells as their tormentors maneuver through the trees constantly harrassing them with their own ranged blows. Everytime the party sees an opening of escape the agropelters cut them off and force them in a new direction, hearding them toward an unknown hazzard.
Charlie you get my vote. Ordonious looks forward to many memorable encouters with agropelters in the near future.