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Preparing my first adventure path


Age of Worms Adventure Path


I just bought and downloaded issues 124 and 125 along with the Worms Overload, and after my first read-through, I'm quite pleased with my purchase. I am however, feeling a bit overwhelmed as to organizing and preparing this great wealth of information to present to my group.

So I thought I'd come here and ask how other DMs went about distilling or using the information provided. The more specific and literal you are the better.

For example, for the opening scene, Diamond Lake, did you print the provided map and description as it was and just rifle through the pages as the players explored? Did you come up with your own write-up to keep track of all the locations and NPCs or just commit the majority of it to memory?

What about getting your group started and presenting all the backdrop info? Did you just print chunks out and hand it to them, write up your own for hand out, or just read them an intro?

My group is fairly new, and we've already run a couple random low-level adventures to introduce the game to them, and they've just barely hit level 2. They're in a position to return to "town" to collect their reward and do some shopping, and it's a perfect opportunity to introduce Diamond Lake and nudge them towards the Whispering Cairn. So in-game they've been to the "town", but no play time has been spent there and no one knows anything about it, even though they should. If they choose to be natives of Diamond Lake, they should know more about the place than those who are not, how did you handle this? And even those who aren't native are still going to know something about it from their initial visit. I definitely have a big gap of information to fill in to get this going.

I greatly appreciate anyone who shares their experience and methods, because as per the subject, I've never done something like this. I've used published adventures and campaign settings, but an adventure path is like a strange blend of the two.

Thanks :)


I downloaded some fan-made introductions from the internet...unfortunately I cannot remember where I got them from, but there should be something out there for your players to read. Also make good use of Diamond Lake for roleplaying purpose. In later adventures there will not be much space to roleplay, rather consider inserting some sidetreks (if you have the time) and cutting some later adventures (at least remove some unnecessary parts).

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I copied and paraphrased sections from the Diamond Lake backdrop and typed it up as a hand-out for my players. Here it is if you want to use it: (you might like to add an additional section at the end, such as places of note, include the Emporium, The Feral Dog, etc so your players can ask about them or choose to go there if they want)

Diamond Lake

At a perfumed arcade known as the Emporium, Governor-Mayor Lanod Neff rubs shoulders with common labourers awaiting an appointment in the Veiled Corridor. In an adjoining antechamber, snakes and exotic dancers gyre to a sonorous weave of cymbals and seductive pipes. A floor below, a gaggle of grasping miners presses against the windowed door of a darkened cell, impatient for a glimpse of a two-headed calf.

Out in the street, a gang of rowdies screams obscenities at a crumpled halfling, kicking it as if scrambling for a ball. Their drunken laughter echoes off shuttered windows and bolted doors.

In a tower-flanked fortress across the shadowy square, filthy men with nothing to lose shout hymns to St. Cuthbert, clutching to their idealism and principles like cornered animals. Their wild eyed chief minister smiles as a he draws the cat-o-nine-tails across his bare back, awash in their adulation and the spirit of his god.

It’s just another night in Diamond Lake.

***

The small mining town of Diamond Lake nestles in the rocky crags of the Cairn Hills, three days ride east of the Free City to which it is subject. Iron and silver from Diamond Lake’s mines fuel the capital’s markets and support its soldiers and nobles with the raw materials for weapons and finery. This trade draws hundreds of skilled and unskilled labourers and artisans all hoping to strike it rich.

In ages past, Diamond Lake boasted an export more valuable than metal in the form of treasure liberated from the numerous tombs and burial cairns crowding the hills around town. These remnants of a half-dozen long dead cultures commanded scandalous prices from the elite of nearby cities, whose insatiable covetousness triggered a boom in the local economy. Those days are long gone though; the last cairn in the region coughed up its treasures decades ago, and few locals pay much mind to stories of yet undiscovered tombs and un-plundered burial cairns. These days, only a handful of treasure seekers visit the town, and few return to the Free City with anything more valuable than a wall rubbing or an ancient tool fragment.

In the hills surrounding the town, hundreds of labourers spend weeks at a time underground, breathing recycled air pumped in via systems worth ten times their combined annual salaries. The desperate, underpaid miners are Diamond Lake’s foundation, their weekly pay cycling back into the community via a gaggle of gambling dens, bordellos, ale halls, and temples.

Because work in the mines is so demanding and dangerous, most folk come to Diamond Lake because they have nowhere else to turn, seeking an honest trade of hard labour for subsistence level pay simply because the system has allowed them no other option. Many are foreigners displaced from native lands by war or famine. Work in the mines is the last honest step before utter destitution or crimes of desperation. For some, it is the first step in the opposite direction; a careful work assignment to ease the burden on debtor-filled prisons, one last chance to make it in civil society.

Diamond Lake
Population: 1025 (95% human, 2% halfling, 1% gnome, 2% other)
Exports: Iron, silver.
Religion / Places of Worship: The church of St. Cuthbert; chapel dedicated to Heironeous (at the garrison); Cult of the Green Lady (non orthodox sect of the church of Wee Jas); the Bronzewood Lodge (dedicated to Obad-Hai and the Old Faith); The Twilight Monastery.
Authority Figures: Governor-Mayer Lanod Neff (hm); Sheriff Cubbin (hm); garrison commander Tolliver Trask (hm).
Mine Managers: Balabar Smenk (hm), Chaum Gansworth (hm), Ellival Moonmeadow (em), Gelch Tilgast (hm), Luzane Parrin (hf), Ragnolin Dourstone (dm).
Other Notables: Zalamandra (hf, owner of The Emporium); Lazare (hm, owner of Lazare’s House); Jierian Wierus (hm, Cuthbertine preacher); Valkus Dun (hm, Heironean warrior-priest); Allustan (hm, wizard and sage); Dulok Blitzhame (dm, leader of dwarven trade delegation); Vulgan Durtch (hm, chief smelter); Nogwier (hm, leader of the Bronzewood Lodge community); Amariss (hf, priestess of Wee Jas).


Mothman wrote:
I copied and paraphrased sections from the Diamond Lake backdrop and typed it up as a hand-out for my players.

I did a little more research around the forums and archives, and this seems to be what most others did. Create a "Player's Guide" of sorts to give their players.

I'm curious though, both yours and another I found don't get into the details of the personalities and where the different classes in that region may have gotten their training. How did the players come up with backgrounds without that information, or how was that given to them?

I was coming up with an outline for a character creation guide for my players that will include:

An introduction to Diamond Lake
Four questions regarding the character's background
Background information about the races in this mini-setting
Class information about potential training and mentors available in the area
Summaries of important people and places in Diamond Lake

Originally, I was going to let the player's choose whether their characters were from Diamond Lake or not. But upon re-reading the opening article for Diamond Lake, I saw that play begins assuming the characters have already worked it into their background that they are in fact already residents.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Christopher Sontag wrote:


I'm curious though, both yours and another I found don't get into the details of the personalities and where the different classes in that region may have gotten their training. How did the players come up with backgrounds without that information, or how was that given to them?

My players chose what class and race they wanted to play pretty much independantly of the campaign setting (with a few subtle hints from me). When they had determined that I worked with each of them individually to give them ideas of how what they had chosen might fit into Diamond Lake (if that's where they were from - not all were) and how to meld their own background ideas into the setting.

I gave each player further information on Diamond Lake once their basic character concepts had been established, but each one was individual and skewed towards the character concept - so newcomers to Diamond Lake didn't get much more info about the place except perhaps for the name of the coaching inn and a few taverns, whilst locals got a lot more info ... but for example a paladin might get a lot of info about the local religious figures and the garrison but not much about the criminal elements and vice-dens. A wizard might know all about Allustan, his relationship to the governor, and some knowledge about the local cairns, but would have only a vague idea about the local mines and where the weapon shops are located.


Mothman wrote:


My players chose what class and race they wanted to play pretty much independantly of the campaign setting (with a few subtle hints from me). When they had determined that I worked with each of them individually to give them ideas of how what they had chosen might fit into Diamond Lake (if that's where they were from - not all were) and how to meld their own background ideas into the setting.

I gave each player further information on Diamond Lake once their basic character concepts had been established, but each one was individual and skewed towards the character concept - so newcomers to Diamond Lake didn't get much more info about the place except perhaps for the name of the coaching inn and a few taverns, whilst locals got a lot more info ... but for example a paladin might get a lot of info about the local religious figures and the garrison but not much about the criminal elements and vice-dens. A wizard might know all about Allustan, his relationship to the governor, and some knowledge about the local cairns, but would have only a vague idea about the local mines and where the weapon shops are located.

Nice! I really like the idea of categorizing the elements of Diamond Lake by class and giving them information that makes sense for them to know. I'm also glad to see you also acknowledged that players who chose to start there got different information. Thanks! I'm going to include both of these ideas in my character creation guide.


My players just wanted to dungeon-crawl and kill stuff, so they didn't make me role-play the various inhabitants of diamond lake (thank The Six).

I worked with the setting to justify the characters teaming up into an adventuring party, but that's really about it.

See "week 1" of my campaign at http://www.paulmurray.id.au/ageofworms/week1.html

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

First thing I would do would be to check out RPGenius, a web site dedicated to Paizo's three adventure paths, full of resources (especially the early adventures) for aspiring DM's.

I went to the trouble of writing out an Age of Worms Player's Guide for my players to help them design characters. For the first session I gave them a handout about how Auric and company's plan to investigate the Stirgenest Cairn inspired the PC's to do the same and make their way to the Whispering Cairn. I also scanned the Wormfood articles from Dragon and made them available to the players as the campaign progressed.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Christopher Sontag wrote:
I'm curious though, both yours and another I found don't get into the details of the personalities and where the different classes in that region may have gotten their training. How did the players come up with backgrounds without that information, or how was that given to them?

From the Erik Mona's Diamond Lake Backdrop:

Dwarf: No dwarves call Diamond Lake home, though a few live there. Most have some sort of business with the Greysmere Covenant (area 23), perhaps as a guard, negotiator, or even magical advisor.

Elf: Right-thinking elves loathe Diamond Lake, as it represents everything elves find churlish and cruel about humans. Only Ellival Moonmeadow (area 26) and his deputies, exclusively elven, seem to have the stomach for the place. A PC elf might serve as a guard or confidant of one of these deputies, or might be a deputy himself!

Gnome: Gnomes might be lodgers at Tidwoad's (area 5) or agents of any of the mine managers. Those with a theatrical flair might find steady work with the Emporium (area 1). Most come from the nearby warren of Grossettgrottell.

Halfling: Many halflings in Diamond Lake work in the hospitality field, as a clerk, cook, or menial of some sort. Others are (relatively) wealthy visitors from the halfling community of Elmshire to the north.

Half-Elf: Half-elves might belong to the Bronzewood Lodge community, or might live among the "civilised" poor of Jalek's Flophouse (area 9). They might find themselves in the employ of Ellival Moonmeadow, but soon become aware that the mine manager simply doesn't like anyone other than elves, and half-elves don't quite qualify.

Half-Orc: Half-orcs' increased strength and low intelligence makes them ideal miners or thugs, and Diamond Lake is filled to bursting with both. A more original approach might cast a half-orc as a roustabout or performer at the Emporium. The garrison does not employ half-orcs as a rule, and most soldiers despise them thanks to an ongoing war against the Empire of the Pomarj to the southwest.

Human: Humans can fill any role in Diamond Lake, from the humble miner to the child of a prominent citizen. Most are labourers.

Barbarian: In the secluded valleys of Cairn Hills, primitive traditions hold strong and humans at times seem more like beasts than like men. In the Mistmarsh to the southeast, wiry, feral humans fiercely contest small patches of dry land, narrowly holding out against lizardfolk and more horrible denizens of the murky marsh.

Bard: Bards looking for an interesting way to fit into Diamond Lake need look no further than the Emporium. Players looking for a slightly less debauched hook might make good performers at the Spinning Giant (area 15) or another unnamed venue.

Cleric: For the easiest fit, players are encouraged to select Heironeous, St. Cuthbert, Obad-Hai, Wee Jas, or as their deity, which will allow them to interact with the local faith. If those gods don't appeal to your character, consider the character an adjunct cleric "loaned" to an allied temple or a lone prophet amid the common folk of Diamond Lake.

Druid: Druids fit perfectly into the Bronzewood Lodge community and might get into the campaign as representatives of Nogwier, the cleric of Obad-Hai who leads that community and who sends them into the hills chasing stories of unkillable undead and unnatural green worms.

Fighter: Most fighters in Diamond Lake are part of the garrison contingent, but a few work as muscle for the mine managers. For an interesting spin, consider making a PC fighter a deputy serving under the corrupt Sheriff Cubbin (area 8).

Monk: Monks native to the Diamond Lake region uniformly come from the Twilight Monastery. A PC monk might befriend another PC before the campaign begins, making him an ideal invite when the other PC learns of the Whispering Cairn.

Paladin: The Chapel of Heironeous (area 12) regularly houses one or two young paladins from the Free City of Greyhawk, who work within the garrison sanctuary as a lesson in humility on a path to bigger and better things within the greater church. A paladin beholden to St. Cuthbert would be a minor figurehead in the cult, uniformly respected by the flock.

Ranger: Few rangers dwell within Diamond Lake, but the druidic community at the Bronzewood Lodge includes several who might have reason to regularly visit Diamond Lake. Other rangers might come from the wild tribes of the Cairn Hills or the Mistmarsh.

Rogue: Rogues are right at home nearly anywhere in Diamond Lake, but especially in the vice dens like the Emporium or Midnight Salute. Each of the mine managers sponsors at least one gang of toughs, making a rogue PC a great point of contact with the town's seedy underworld. For a compelling challenge, make the PC a gofer for the notorious Balabar Smenk.

Sorcerer: The Emporium is always on the lookout for charismatic exhibitors with a magical trick up their sleeve - the flashier the better. Sorcerers might also be affiliated with a street gang that frequents the Feral Dog or might be in the employ of one of the mine managers.

Wizard: Consider apprenticing wizard characters to Allustan (area 18), possibly the most powerful individual in Diamond Lake.

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