Here is my Rejected Scenario. Tell me what you think.
(Cross-posted at http://ineednewdice.blogspot.com/)
Title: The Watchers from Below
Many thousands of years ago, the aboleth considered their dominion of the entire world to be complete. The few sages that study those ancient creatures agree that the main impetus behind the aboleth desire to dominate other races was their inability to trust other creatures, almost to a level of paranoia. The world under the waters was at tentacle’s reach and the aboleth could easily be reassured that the watery ancient world was always under control and not a threat. The surface world could be scryed upon by arcane magic, but the aboleth also relied upon humanoid and monstrous agents to supplement their magical reconnaissance and to shape the actions of the surface world to the desired result. Further inland, aboleth agents would have less access to the resources of their masters, so the aboleth established small hidden bases far inland at locations linked to the ocean by waterway. One such location was the in the land nearby Falcon's Hallow.
The aboleth base nearby what would eventually become Falcon's Hallow was the center of all operations in and around the area for hundreds of miles, until the Dwarven quest for sky worried the aboleth masters. The tunnels and underground exploration of the dwarves would come too close to their base so it was abandoned just a few years before the dwarves saw their first sunrise.
In the area, the ruins of past dwarven settlements has predominated Pathfinder activity. That is why it the discovery of a large rune covered stone is so enticing, as the dwarven family that finds the runes points out that none of the runes are dwarven, and the stone was cut and and runes carved with magic before the dwarves finished their first settlements on the surface world.
In this adventure, the pathfinders explore the ruins of an ancient underground aboleth base used by aboleth inland servants thousands of years ago. A sect of cloakers still loyal to the aboleth have beaten the pathfinders to the ruin, though a 1-2 tier group will only encounter lesser agents of the cloakers. The pathfinders will be able to deduce the nature of the ruin by either interrogating the cloaker agents or decrypting some of the ancient runes. Either method of information gathering will realize that this ruin once housed a powerful scrying crystal that amplified divination magic and stored previous scrying sessions for reviewing. The lure of totally new ruins that are not supposed to be in the area, combined with a great ancient magic device that may still have the stored divinations of 10,000 years ago should be too much for any pathfinder to refuse!
Pre-ruins at the dwarven farmstead-
1) Calm the frightened daughter of the dwarf who found the stone on his land. Her father has been missing since yesterday and the daughter is the best way for the PCs to find the rune covered stone.
At the aboleth underground ruins-
2) This room was designed to quickly fill with water to allow for both the comfort of amphibious creatures and to aid in long-distance magical communication with the aboleth. It was not designed to be a trap, but functions well as one. If they survive or avoid the "trap", they have the chance to interrogate one of the cloaker agents that was left for dead. This is an OPTIONAL encounter.
The Chambers beyond take on the subjective gravity trait-
3) An ambush in the central room (Lizard men/Skum/Cloaker mix per tier). The scrying crystal is here, but will not move from the center of the room. Triggering switches in other rooms will lower the crystal with one switch already triggered in the left most room.
4) The room above contains Lizard men, Skum or a Cloaker mix per tier. The room is enveloped in an ancient silence effect and contains a switch. The Dwarven father/captive can also be rescued here.
5) In the noxious gas filled chamber to the right there is an ancient protector (a construct appropriate to tier), plus a switch.
7) The chamber below is full of water and a water elemental protector appropriate to tier, plus a switch.
8) The mechanism that magically lowers the crystal has failed and "drops" the crystal, cracking it and summoning an ancient Aboleth creation, an advanced fiendish (templates) version of a creature faced in the tier appropriate mix.
A Brief Conclusion:
Should the servants of the Aboleth retrieve the crystal, they will gain access to its stored divinations of the Falcon's Hallow region over past 10,000 years. The dwarven child will see strange creatures carry a large crystal across her farm and into the river, but she will never see her father again.
If the PCs suceed, the historic treasure the crystal can reveal is priceless... if anyone can ever get the cracked crystal to work. They have also made a great friend in the dwarven father, who was once a pathfinder himself and can be a valuable ally in the future.
Faction goals would focus on variations of discovering the nature of the ruins, helping the dwarven family and retrieving the crystal.
|Mike Welham Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012|
Please note that these critiques come from someone who hasn't had a published scenario:
I like the exploration/find the artifact scenario you created. You've got a great mix of encounters, so you give everyone in the party a moment in the spotlight.
This scenario doesn't play to the Falcon's Hollow region. It's a great idea, but it would be better in a different setting.
The introduction spends a lot of time on an aboleth that the characters will never directly encounter. I like that you have a long-term villain, and aboleths are good choices, but there's a lot of background that doesn't apply to the scenario. Since PFS scenarios are so short, most of the words need to directly apply to the adventure.
I'm not sure if divinations from 10,000 years ago would really be *that* valuable, since most of the things being divined have already come to pass.
You have some of passive voice in your scenario ("That is why it the discovery of a large rune covered stone is so enticing...", "This room was designed to quickly fill with water..."). I know Josh has brought that up a few times.
I hope that's helpful. I encourage you to keep submitting, and I wish you luck in future submissions!
Please take the following opinions as just constructive comments.
The Good:I love your writing style. Storytelling seems to roll off your pen as I read the introduction. Aboleths, cloakers and skrum are good ideas for encounters. The conclusion is well done but I am kind of lost until I get to the conclusion.
The Bad: Not sure if this is the "exact submission" but when I checked the word count, I saw 859 words, not less that 751. Since this is the first thing Josh looks at, he would disqualify you before even reading the submission, seeing it as "unable to follow directions". They have to be strict on word count, more so in a printed product than a PDF. It is really hard to write under 750 words, I know, but it forces a good writer to fine tune the submission. Passive voice will also kill the submission. Active voice gets the message across to Josh. Be to the point and less vague. Ok, on to more specifics...
In the prologue, you have too much back story for a 750 word doc. Say more with less. The abandoned concept doesnt work for me unless they were fleeing for their lives for some reason. Simply packing up is not a strong enough reason for leaving a powerful magic item intact IMO. How does the players segway from the non dwarven magically created rune to the ruins they explore? Does the rune cover something? If the ruins were that close to the settlement, unless they were underground, wouldnt they already have been noticed? Is the magically created rune a glyph of warding of somekind? What is its function?
In the adventure summary, you mention the cloakers which is an interesting monster to face, you may even suggest further reading of the Dungeon Denizen's Revisited Chronical book. Do the cloakers worship the Aboleth in some way or are working to unlock the secrets of the crystal? It is not clear to what they are up to in the room when they are encountered. I like the idea of scry storing. Have examples of what images are stored and why they are relevant to the senario, or why the PFS would want this item.
Encounter 1. Calm the daughter, learn the location of the rune. Seems a bit cut and dry. Her father is gone, why? What actions can be taken to help calm her. What can she tell the players about the rune?
Encounter 2. I am assuming this is underground? How does the trap function? Why was the cloaker abandoned?
Encounter 3. Ambush? Do the cloakers know the players are coming? I am assuming the crystal is not working at this point. I am also assuming that "lowering the crystal" activates its scrying magic. In this encounter, explaining how the crystal functions completely would be helpful. Why not have the cloakers attempting to activate the crystal as the players enter, or even worshiping it as a relic from the elder race? Which other encounter is the left most room?
Encounter 4. Is this room below encounter 3? Is the silence effect the challenge in this room? Why was the dwarf captured and not eaten?
Encounter 5. Ancient protector seems unfinished? A golem, an animated object or giant piranna-like zombie Skrum. Needs more thought put into it. Why is the protector here? Does he attack anyone who trys the switch?
Encounter 6 ???
Encounter 7 This is like encounter 5. Needs details
Encounter 8 Fiendish Aboleth is a good combat for EL8. Would like to see more ideas for lower levels. Also, with the crystal crashing, I dont see the tie in to the divination, more like summoning.
Conclusion Oh! now I see the tie in with the cloakers and the crystal. The fact the dwarf is now a member of the PFS is a good reason the PFS has a direct connection with the dwarven farm.
What I would improve on:Less on the backstory, more on the here and now. You write well early on but as I get through the encounters, I feel you need more detail on them.
The ideas are good. Keep trying and good luck next submission.
Thanks for sharing your submission, cyrusdane!
I agree with AngrySpirit that the writing in the introduction is wonderful. However, It seems a little risky to speculate on the machinations of the aboleth as a whole. That sort of thing naturally belongs in one of the Revisited books of the Pathfinder Chronicles line.
You could do a lot more with the adventure summary. It doesn't feel cinematic to me (well, the water trap and the cracking crystal do, but the other rooms seems like a standard dungeon crawl). The setup may be too much like the Third Riddle scenario from Season 0.