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The Bride of Orcus (rejected first attempt)

Scenario Submission Talk

Hi all. Looking for critiques. I promise to post to your rejections, too.

Bride of Orcus:

The tomb of an ancient lich has been discovered outside the town of Falcon's Hollow, drawing the attention of both the Pathfinder Society and the local Cult of Urgathoa. When a magic ring goes missing from the crypt and undead begin attacking the Hollow in waves, Pathfinders and cultists must work together to uncover the hidden master of these soulless monsters. Through the streets and graveyard of an isolated town, black forests, a demonic chapel, and a dwarven necropolis, PCs will pit their will against unspeakable horror disguised as undying love.

PCs arrive in Falcon's Hollow during a zombie attack, helping repel the monsters and earning the appreciation of Sheriff Baleson and Gavel Kreed. Investigation of the newly-discovered tomb shows evidence of a missing ring, but only after an encounter with cultists of Urgathoa do they learn the true nature of the Ring of Unrot and its rejuvenating properties. Sheshema, leader of the Urgathoans, insists on a partnership to recover the relic and expose the source of the recent undead.

In the graveyard near town, the PCs stop Kreed and his goons from killing an unconscious man named Sharvaros Vade and his fearful son Savram, the former accused of necromancy. Before anything can be sorted out, a swarm of wights attack, killing many goons and cultists and sending Sheshema fleeing towards the woods.

The PCs escort the Vades safely home and learn Sharvaros is indeed a necromancer, that his recent experiments mirror the properties of the Ring of Unrot, and that his driving ambition is raising his dead wife without the help of the gods. Sheriff Baleson arrives after hearing reports of undead in the graveyard, relating that the Hollow had been attacked a second time.

Three women were stolen away by ghasts, spurring the PCs to follow the trail into Darkmoon Wood while Baleson takes the Vades into custody. Sheshema reappears, leading them to an unholy site she discovered. The group fights assassin vines to enter a grizzly chapel of Orcus, where two of the women have been slain in some foul ritual by ghasts and a fiendish parson. The PCs manage to save one of the women and take her back home while Sheshema puzzles over the Orcusian ritual.

The town is suffering from a third attack when the PCs arrive, this time mobs of dretch. They rescue trapped deputies in the Sheriff's Office and discover Sharvaros, Savram and one of the female deputies are missing. Baleson urges the PCs to go after them, spurring the group back into the Darkmoon Wood. Sheshema finds them and explains the ritual was designed to sacrifice three women for the return of one. With the chapel destroyed, the ceremony must be performed somewhere infused with powerful necromancy, somewhere like Raseri Kanton.

The PCs enter the dwarven necropolis, slipping by the roaming dead and finding the new site of the ritual, a half-buried manor. Fighting through gargoyle guardians, they finally come face to face with the secret supplicant of Orcus, the boy Savram. He's convinced a demonic anti-marriage is the only way to restore his family. Savram sacrifices the deputy while his horrified father watches, slipping the rejuvenating Ring of Unrot on his mother's finger and reanimating her gowned corpse. However, Sharvaros recognizes her as nothing more than an abomination and tears the ring off, revealing a bloated, twisted, rotting entity. The necromancer is knocked aside and the PCs must battle the Bride of Orcus.

Encounters include a zombie horde on the outskirts of town, an optional battle with cultists of Urgathoa within the lich's tomb, a wight attack in the graveyard, assassin vines in the Darkmoon Wood, ghasts and a fiendish parson in the Chapel of Orcus, a dretch mob inside the town Sheriff's Office, gargoyles in the foyer of the half-buried manor, and a finale with Savram and the abominable Bride in the bedroom suite.

The PCs were confronted with a terrible decision during their battle with the Bride, namely what to do about Savram. If they killed him during the final battle, they've made a terrible enemy of Sharvaros, but if they subdued the wayward son they've instead won the necromancer as an ally. Falcon's Hollow is in the PCs' debt. Depending on what the PCs do with the Ring of Unrot, they've gained standing with the Cult of Urgathoa, or otherwise made themselves targets until the relic is in Sheshema's possession. Worst of all, they've garnered Orcus's notice.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for sharing your submission, Paramo. You've got some very interesting ideas.

My initial impression is that the scenario is LONG. You've got eight combat encounters when the open call asks for five and one optional. You've also got four very different locations and multiple roleplaying opportunities. I doubt this could be fully articulated in 7000 words or played in four hours.

My second thought is that no scenario should ask the Pathfinders to ally with the Cult of Urgathoa. No good characters would tolerate such allies (particularly paladins and clerics), and few neutral characters would either. The Church of Pharasma would make much better allies here. The Cult of Urgathoa makes more sense as the creators of the Ring of Unrot (Orcus is a relatively minor presence in Golarion).


Thanks for the comments.

I should have seen it ran too long from the start, but I guess I was too deep in the process at the time. I sort of took the 5 encounters + 1 optional as the minimum, hehe, oops. Next open call I'm going to give myself time to reflect a little and look back over my submission. I own Decline of Glory and Shipyard Rats I, and both aren't nearly as long as this (and open calls likely would never, ever be accepted as a part 1 of something anyway).

You did name my worry with choosing Orcus over Urgathoa. I admittedly haven't read the scenarios including any followers of the Pallid Princess, and I did notice in the Campaign Guide Orcus was mentioned as a minor presence. I figured a disillusioned son of a necromancer might be a small enough sort of in for the demon lord. Then again, it probably came off as not Golarion enough, which is very well might not be. I like the idea of the Urgathoans making the Ring of Unrot and the Cult of Pharasma as the ones to partner with.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Here are my thoughts.

At first glance, the premise of the town being attacked by waves of undead seems a bit too similar to an existing module (Hungry Are the Dead). The missing magic ring is interesting though, so I'd focus more on that.

Your summary seems to assume PC action throughout. What if the PCs don't rescue the unconscious man? What if they don't follow the ghasts into Darkmoon Wood? How can you be sure the Pathfinders manage to save one of the two women in the chapel? What if the PCs find a way to prevent Savram from sacrificing the deputy?

I second Derek's impression that this scenario would take too long to play. All of the suggested locations sound very exciting (graveyard, black forest, demonic chapel, necropolis), but it's just too much for one scenario.

The assassin vines are a random encounter. They don't relate to the overall plot. I'd remove this encounter to have fewer fights.

I like how the Pathfinders are confronted with a moral decision during the final battle. I'm not sure they would want to win standing with the cult though.

Keep writing and good luck on future submissions!

Liberty's Edge **** Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Winston-Salem

Hello, Paramo. I liked your scenario overall, and I agree with the above suggestions. I'd also recommend that you lay out the order of the encounters, or make it more clear that what you have is the specific order for the encounters.

Good luck with your future scenario submissions!

Thanks everyone for the guidance.

I can't tell you how much better I feel about my next submission after having gone through the process once, seen the latest round of critiques and gotten feedback.

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