I think you're absolutely right about the vampires needing to show up. Your contingencies sound good to me, so stick to your plan and let us know how it goes!
The game was an absolute blast. Again, my players surprised me.
The group decided to rest in the armory. They were met there by Vannwhyne Malkistra during the second watch. The fight was quite even and by the turn I was planning a gaseous form retreat, the ever original negative energy channeler decided to give a try to his command undead feat alon with his channeling. He succeeded and suddenly my spy's had found a source of information. I have confided them the former vampire huntress' personal history (which by the way was a shame not to have the players know it) along with her personal view of the other two vampires' strengths and weaknesses. She has told the the approximate layout of the cellar level.
Afterwards they decided to have her explore the garden and the rest of the mail level they had not explored and that was the time I got the chance to have the dolls appear. As none of the P characters decided to join her in her exploration and just have th cleric "remote control" her I had the dolls ambush Vannwhyne. As the cleric is a little bit nuts (part of the metaplot) he decided he no longer had any further interest in her and left her to her own. Of course I used the chance to have he return to the cellar level.
I normally give the XP after game sessions but in this time it proved to be a critical factor, for the cleric rose up to level 6 between sessions. This allowed him to de IDE this interesting encounter.
They continued afterwards:
The alchemist is trying to become a pathfinder and chose the campaign trait that gives him a wayfinder. This way they encountered the dolls and he showed the the device, assuring they ment no harm. The dolls were ok with that and invited th party to a surreal "tea party" in which I made clear to the player'sthe sadistic nature of the fetishes. They got Bisby's final resting place pinpointed and the haunt's powers proved lethal for the warrior. After this terrible loss they tried to open the blocked door that leads to the access to the cellar but failed miserably at it (no rogue).
They then decided to leave Delvehaven to try to find someone that could resurrect their fallen comrade. At the very door I had Jair appear with bat swarms invoked, but in the event of a total party kill I decided to leave him invisible evaluating the group's performance (maybe selecting a potential thrall?).
The funny thing about it is that they decided to look for help in the church of Asmodeus. The local priest recognized them as the stars in the sixfold trial and de died to resurrect their friend AFTER signing a devious contract that might have the group perform a deed in the name of Asmodeus. And of course, after paying the price.
There's more tomorrow.
My players were given handouts - even some additional hand-made papers (the ledger, Cugny's wedding, and a clue to the cipher.
Did you write Cugny's Wedding? If so, may I please have a copy?
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Since this thread hasn't had anything posted in a while, I figured I'll throw my 2cp in here also. Thank you EVERYONE for all your great comments so far. I'm going to be using a ton of the suggestions that have been provided because I do feel like Delvehaven just needed a little extra OOMPH because it's been the thing of legends so far to them.
So here's my thoughts so far. I'll try and use the spoiler buttons liberally:
I'll also have the dolls be on the lookout for a wayfinder to see if the PCs are friends or enemies (I have a bard in the party that's trying to become a pathfinder, so he took the trait that gave him one). The dolls are on Bisby's side of things, so I figured they are one of his lookouts in the area. I just can't see them getting into too much combat except the hit and run tactics. If the dolls deem them a threat, then I'll have them do the spring attacks and other tactics to try and scare them away. If the PCs are deemed friends, they'll walk into the tea party and be invited to join them. I think then they'll be taken down to Bisby since that would join those two plot lines perfectly.
Also, I think that the stomping around of the triceratops would also alert the vampires just as well as the baying of the hounds, so I'm going to be using that as a conditional factor also.
I think that's a good summary of my thoughts so far about what my plans are for Delvehaven. Again, thank you everyone for the suggestions and the ideas. I'll be reading the forums for the rest of the books for sure now. If there's any additional ideas or suggestions, please let me know.
We just finished our run through What Lies in Dust a couple weeks ago and I finally posted my write up. My players had a really good time. I used the vampire's dilema as mentioned above and added my own twist to it. More in a minute.
In addition, for the last half of the adventure, I decided to use Lorefinder, the Gumshoe mashup for Pathfinder. This essentially splits the character skills into investigative skills and general skills. The general skills work just as in Pathfinder. The investigative skills give you points to spend to find things. It takes the rolling out of discovering clues. I am going to try it out for a few sessions and see how it works. It really sped up our dungeon crawling. I also think it really suits this adventure path.
The party was out of spells and camped on the Rostrum of Vanishment. I waited until nightfall, when one of the vampire spawn discovered them there. Turns out the paladin, his family is a minor band of thieves. One of his cousins was the spawn. The paladin never got along with his family. So the spawn goes and gets Vahnwynne. Vahnwynne appears atop the ruins of the rope bridge and summons bat swarms, in case the players try to stay invisible. The ranger is a bounty hunter, so he recognizes Vahnwynne. That does not stop the party from killing them. They figure that the vampire is going to regenerate so they are faced with the dilema. Rest and get back their spells or go after the vampire while it is weak. The chase the vampire.
So they end up downstairs and go through most of the second level. When they end up outside the summoning chamber, they run into the Mazeflesh Man. They defeat him and he disappears under the door of the summoning chamber. Before they stumble into there, Missy Molly tells them to follow. She introduces them to Bisby, who gives them the clues they need.
They go down to face the last spawn and Jair. I made Jair the missing master of the wizard, who was his motivation for joining the Redshirts. He thought his master had been carried away by the Hellknights. Two of the vampire spawn were more cousins of the paladin. The players were not really in that much danger, but being out of spells and the fear of negative levels really ratched up the tension for them.
You can catch the whole story on my blog.
Very cool adventure!
I wanted to report back on the situation I threw at my PCs before I start in on book 4.
First off, I scratched my idea on how to open Delvehaven. After thinking about it, it just didn't seem logical or practical, so out it went.
When they finally did find the room with the plate of invisibility (book not open, just going off of memory), I made their attack there. They each took a different person until Draggy got hit by a critical strike and smashed him into pieces. At this point, the dolls ran into the invisible area and taunted the PCs and called them "big meanies" for smashing Draggy. Finally the PCs let them come over and grab draggy's parts and they disappeared down into the lower areas to hide with Bisby.
Eventually, the combat just got too long and I let them take the victory on this one, but it worked out great.
I'm hoping to see other wonderful suggestions in book 4 as this one seems to be a giant dungeon crawl.