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.
Not a PFS player, but I am enjoying playing an inquisitor for the first time in our CCAP and here are a couple of my suggestions based off my experience through the first 4 levels.
1) Echoing Joanna above - Stay away from save spells, I personally keep to mostly self-buffing spells and use the alternate favored class option (I am human) to gain a new spell known regularly.
2) Rycaut's comments are also spot on - Inquisitor play is about patience and resource management. Your buff spells can make you a monster combatant, but it takes time to get spun up. Nothing sucks more than getting spun up, fighting for a round or not at all, then boom end of encounter. My first teamwork feat was lookout, and I always try to position myself next to our party rogue as he has the highest initiative in the party. That increases my odds of acting in a suprise round and often get both a move and standard action! This can allow you to cast a buff spell in the suprise round, again in the 1st round and activate your judgement putting you in a really good position by the second round.
3) Rycaut also mentions intimidate - To date I haven't had much success with this in combat as many of my foes have been undead, which of course are immune. Like all the other abilities that are the hallmark of the inquisitor class its about resource management. Outside of combat have a blast with this, its great rolepalying fun.
I had a PC that was really into the "I want to be the next blackjack" story so, as soon as they learned about this "poser" he and the rest of the party set off to put an end to it. I used the Sczarni hencmens wishs to try and foil the party so my wannabe could enjoy vanquishing his competition. It was a great fight and everyone had fun.
I wouldn't worry about the planer travel issue. Any PC's stuck in hell can probably survive long enough to be rescued, and its always great to split the party for a bit and get them out of there confort zone.
My plan was actually to leave the planar travelling folks alone and focus on those left behind by having a gray maiden patrol harass them.
I would probably go with a potion of protection from evil.
The +2 deflection bonus to AC and a +2 resistance bonus on saves against attacks made or effects created by evil creatures. Is probably not to useful at mid to higher levels but, the
While under the effects of this spell, the target is immune to any new attempts to possess or exercise mental control over the target. This spell does not expel a controlling life force (such as a ghost or spellcaster using magic jar), but it does prevent them from controlling the target. This second effect only functions against spells and effects created by evil creatures or objects, subject to GM discretion.
Has saved many a party member from being hacked to death by their own tank.
Since 2004, I have been blessed to play/dm with two different and very talented troupes of gamers. This tale concerns the first. I only played with them for about 3yrs in Miami, and I ran SCAP. One of the PC's was the bastard son of a concubine. When,at the end of Test of the Smoking Eye I revealed the PC's father was actually the main antagonist of the entire path (a true luke I am you father moment)a hush fell over the table for like 5 minutes, and the player actually had to excuse herself to collect her thoughts.
I love creating emotion like that at the table. To me the game is always about the story, and immersing yourself and your players in the fun of being hero's. When can get the players away from the mechanics and builds, etc that's awesome.
Erik Freund wrote:
This is a great post Erik, I work diligently in all of my campaigns (mostly AP's now days)at all levels to limit the magic-mart mentality and entitlement mentality.
Rebuilt doctors as alchemists also, bombing PC's while killing plague victims in the hospice really pissed off my paladin and oracle. The oracle PC is a real nurse so he showed no pity on them. By the way, this makes them substantially more dangerous. I also gave Dr D some alchemist levels and he was very deadly.
Lord Snow wrote:
This is an awesome idea! In my campaign, I used the tie in to the artists who committed suicide as background in my in game newsletter. That way when the party met Liori and she was talking to the skulls it brought that background information into the light. I suppose you could tie your Gallery of Evil idea into that part of the story somehow. One thing I did in giving a brief report on the suicide of each artist was reference the color blue. None of the PC picked up on this until Liori explained it to them and they all got a great laugh out of it.
Another art related theme I encluded was a collectible trek. In each chapter I included like framed paintings of each of the major cities themed in the other AP (xin-shalast, Korvosa, Celwynvian, City of Brass, etc). Each of these paintings were only worth a few GP, however when taken to the Jeggare Museum (cant rember his name darn it), PC's received a bit more GP, bonuses on knowledge checks, or some other boon. No player picked up on the theme lol!
It doesnt have to be family members, but anyone the PC(s) are close to. Also, the inquisitor and the oracle both of the heal skill so this can certainly aid in curing disease. I also took a hint from Assassin Creed II and from day 1 through some doctors out on the streets of korvosa to buy healing, anti-plague etc from.
Truthfully, the plague and 7days is the diamond of the 6 gems that make up this wonderful AP and I highly recommend it.
Of all the facets of CotCT the Order of the Nail actions/reactions were the most difficult of all for me, as the DM, to decide upon and portray to my players. Luckily, I had no player with a close tie to the organization so it wasn't necessary to provide them with a major role.
My decision was to give the organiztion scene time in EoA tapering off through 7days, as the Maidens began there rise to power, and finally ending in their self-imposed exile.
I converted all of the gray maidens to cavaliers. I created an order of the gray maiden, which was pretty much order of the lion with all the mounted hoopla converted to similar non-mounted qualities.
I do it like CaroRose, with one reading for the entire group. I tend to do a full spread with the entire deck, and just improvise on the results. Try doing a few practice runs for yourself, just so you get a feel of how to take the vague descriptions and spin them with what is coming up in the adventure. Make sure you have a clear idea in your mind about what the players are likely to face when you Harrow and don't be afraid if you are stumbling through it. I still feel clumsy when I interpret, but my players say that they really enjoy it.
This is almost exaclty how I did when I DM COCT as well. The harrow deck is your friend, and is met to be vague. It allowed my PC to read way into it, and set up a lot of great red herrings. It also allowed me to give some direction to keep them from leaving the sandbox altogether and some hints.
I think you have to mention it. The city guard just engaged and sunk a ship in the middle of the night, and the artillery woke up a better part of the city?? But as a DM you better have a plan, because players being players they're goning to want to get there.
I had the Sable Company and Korvosa Guard cordon of the area of the sinking with boats and hippogriff patrols and deny entry to everyone. It even allowed me to give Edrin some more face time with the PC's. My players were fiending to get there and approached Cressida. Cressida gave them the "It's on the water, so that's a Sable Company matter, however I will speak with Edrin about getting you a pass." line.
This worked good for my players and the story went on well.
Once the hospice was suspected, the players sent someone in undercover to scope things out, and things flowed well through out.
What makes 7graves so great is the great way roleplaying interaction with the community drives the hack and slash wonderfully. As DM I highly suggest, if your party hasnt developed a love Korvosa and a hatred for the bad guys, this is the best opportunity to change that. The plague can, and should knock off a few very close family, friends or NPC's the party has made!
When I was a younger DM, deities had much more direct influence in my games. Now however, I generally disalow "god calls" or other such mechanics by any players. If I feel Deific intervention strengthens the story, then I do so through subtle manipulation or if direcet action is necessary by a proxy. The listing of deity agents and hearlds provided by Paizo is extreamly helpful in this.
When I play a particular PC, I also set aside a few sentances in his background to determine the level of his devotion, if any, to a religious creed. Hopefully this gives some insight into the PC for both the GM and me as I prepare for the roll. But even if I am playing a PC who is particularly zelous I look at it as just one of the facets to enjoy play around and not a defining one.
In my campaign the Grey Maiden's had three barracks locations. Longacre Prison was were new recruits were indoctrinated, low-level maidens were at the hospice of the blessed maiden, long acre prison, and the castle proper and then take over the Sable Company's old barracks when they are disbanded. As the story unfolded, and the maidens grew and the guard shrank they eventually take over the Guards's quarters displacing the last remanents of the Korvosan guard.
Almost word for word my campaign handout lol!!
1. What amount of character points do you allow at creation for abilities? [10, 15, 20, 25]
I used to do 20pt builds, but my gamers are super experienced so I have tried to balance that and the fact we are a 5 PC party by reducing to 15.
In general my players are very experienced all having played for a decade or more except one, but her husband has been playing a long time so has a permanent aid another action lol. I try to make it very challenging for them.
Playing through an AP with a 25pt build and access to entire armsroom paizo has to offer is fun and that's all that matters. But my players are masters of the mechanics of the game, which play way more into d20 than they ever did in 1ed, so I challenge them, get them out of there comfort zone so to speak
The key to the two urban based campaigns I have run was to develop a strong emotional connection between the PC's and the urban environment. I used two main mechanics for this. 1st - The PC's have to develop a background with ties to people in the city be they family, friends or enemies or even a very important place. 2nd - I author an "in game" new paper or news letter as an NPC publisher. Sometimes I am the voice of the rebellion or whomever the "good guys" are and sometimes the "bad guys". Everyone like to read about themselves so the headline is always what the heroes did or failed to do, spun to the benifit of the newsletters voice. I also place lots of fluff on important NPC and locations, red herrings and other background info to inculde advertisments for local business the PC's can shop at.
That's my 10 cents! Good Luck!
I hate being in a party without any of the four food groups. If I must be I can live without the Rogue, but no Wizard and I mean Wizard can be a difficult pill to swallow in any AP. To many bench mark spells lost IMHO. My Carrion Crown currently is without a true arcane caster and it worries me. The leadership feat is certainly in our future lol!
I pre-build the knowledge charts for every creature, location, etc. that I can think the PC's might find interesting. At the lower numbers I give the general creature type info, then sub-type info the up to specific creature info.
For NPC and Locations I am much more vague, and a knowledge check alone may not be good enough to get the real info the PC's want. That forces them to use spells and NPC to aid in their research. And yes, even then things are sometimes unknowable.