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Rejected #45 -- Critique Welcomed


Scenario Submission Talk


Below is my rejected submission for #45. I'd appreciate any feedback you might spare. (Don't hold back, I can take it.) With thanks in advance.

The Untouchable Murderer

Introduction
The Minotaur Prince plans to commit public, gory murder. He also hopes to get away with it.

Alchemist, Dr. Bensi Skule, has murdered with impunity for years. He uses Puddles residents as both test subjects and ingredients, abetted by a corrupt magistrate. His latest concoction, “Bullmeek”, pacifies minotaurs, generating a supply of docile, muscular slaves for Absalom's dockyards.

All of which is a red flag to the Minotaur Prince. He must find a way to stop his people’s enslavement, even if it means sacrificing his own freedom. The prince’s plan relies on an obscure privilege. He bears the right to trial under the First Lady of Laws herself. If he and Skule could somehow commit a crime together, the alchemist would finally face justice. Moreover, if the prince were under the influence of Bullmeek, would anyone hold him responsible?

The prince starts his plot rolling by arranging his own kidnapping.

Summary
Should the Minotaur Prince ever come to power, he has promised the Pathfinder Society access to the First Labyrinth, legendary site of Aroden’s duel with the Minotaur God. Therefore, when the prince disappears, the society tasks the PCs with returning him safely to the embassy.

The characters start their search at the site of the kidnapping, the Grog Pit. The tavern brims with ex-longshoremen venting their frustrations on a passive minotaur (not the prince). The PCs’ investigation triggers a brawl. A stray bottle strikes the minotaur, freeing it from Bullmeek’s grip and allowing it to punish its tormentors. The party discovers that Grandmaster Torch witnessed and perhaps masterminded the kidnapping.

The PCs row out to Flotsam Graveyard where Torch reclines in a sinking palatial barque, attended by skum. Any suggestion that Torch kidnapped the prince flusters him. He observed one of Skule’s minions leading the abduction. Nevertheless, Torch hears persistent rumors that a royal beast will assassinate Skule at midnight. Someone is evidently manipulating the prince. Torch abhors Skule (the alchemist burnt Torch almost to ash), but if Skule dies, everyone will suspect him. The PCs must beat time and tide to get ashore before the situation explodes.

Skulking locals and cowled thugs crowd Puddles’ central square, watching Skule make a public example of a disloyal minion. The prince, disguised as one of Skule’s thugs, uncloaks and charges, his horns dripping poison. He targets the tortured minion, not the alchemist. Skule’s shock turns to anger, and the cringing Minotaur Prince pretends to have misunderstood his “master”. The PCs must intervene to save the prince and prevent the victim’s death. Guards finally arrive in force, arresting the prince, Skule, his thugs, and the PCs.

In jail, if the PCs persuade the prince of their trustworthiness, he discusses his plans for the trial. He stresses his desire for justice, and feigns amnesia if asked whether a rival crime boss, dock gang, Torch, or he himself engineered the kidnapping. The party may also notice a fawning magistrate meeting with Skule.

At court, Skule appears smugly confident until the Prince proclaims his right to trial under the First Lady of Law. The PCs may try to persuade her of the prince’s innocence if they wish. Skule tries to escape, showering his attackers with alchemist’s fire. The PCs can capture or destroy him.

Encounters
1. Investigation and tavern brawl, featuring an unarmed minotaur with sawn-off horns, a fire pit, and a swinging chandelier.
2. Roleplay with Torch.
3. (Optional) Puzzle/skill scene to hurry ashore against the ebbing tide – Animal Empathy checks to enlist nearby dolphins – otherwise, player creativity, Knowledge (engineering), or Craft checks to jury-rig a sail out of flotsam to harness the onshore gale.
4. Battle against Skule’s thugs, featuring a dying victim, an enveloping horde of enemies, and barrels of liquor to roll, explode, or use as cover. (Skule himself bears a stoneskin thanks to the assassination rumors.)
5. Roleplay with the prince – Sense Motive, Diplomacy, or Craft (alchemy) checks to learn the truth.
6. Law court battle against the alchemist, featuring impassioned testimony, unwarranted injections, and more alchemist’s fire than is strictly advisable.

Conclusion
The judge releases the prince if the PCs achieved any two from:

- Saving the intended murder victim
- Presenting a persuasive legal defense
- Preventing Skule’s escape

If Skule still lives, he and his gang suffer the full wrath of the law.

Doubt over Bullmeek’s safety spreads due to the carnage at the Grog Pit and in Puddles. Within a week, all minotaurs have left Absalom, save one.

**

This is a great example of the canon issue I'm talking about in the other thread. (Not to pick on you!) I created the NPC Bensi Skule in Classic Monsters Revisited in the troll write-up. The Bensi Skule that you seem to be using here is, in fact, dead. The creature currently using the name is a troll that Skule experimented on for years and who now uses the name to fund an information network to continue the experimentation--on himself. Skule is only loosely referenced in the Guide to Absalom and he's not fully referenced like he is in Classic Monsters Revisited.

When you pick pieces of canon (specifically NPC names) to use in your proposals and you pick a piece of canon and use it incorrectly, you nearly always shoot yourself in the foot doing so. This is why you should avoid the use of canonical NPCs and instead create your own story inside the framework of our world.


Joshua J. Frost wrote:
This is a great example of the canon issue I'm talking about in the other thread. (Not to pick on you!)

On the contrary! I truly appreciate the feedback Josh.

Joshua J. Frost wrote:
The Bensi Skule that you seem to be using here is, in fact, dead...

Ouch, I apologize. I was indeed working from the Guide to Absalom. (I had originally created my own alchemist, but smartly decided it would be better if I tried to weave my submission more tightly with existing canon.) Glad I could provide such a compelling example of what not to do!

Qadira *****

I think the biggest issue I personally see about the adventure is that there is a little too much impact on the setting. From my understanding the impact of PFS adventures should be minimal on the setting. I see the following changes to the world leading to rejection:
1-Skule is thrown in jail
2-All minotaurs leave Absalom
3-What if the PCs fail to get 2/3? What of Skule? What of the Prince?

To fix:
1-I would've gone with the alchemist of your own creation instead of Skule. Having Joe alchemist (who might be a protege of the "real" Skule) would give you freedom.
2-The minotaurs should not leave Absalom at the end. Instead mention some increasing tension between them and the merchants/thieves. (This sets up a future conflict between the two factions)
3-That one I don't know... I think it could be okay if the other 2 are addressed.

All that said. Outside of PFS, I think the idea is solid, interesting and above all, fun to play and run. I would have liked to play/run that as a home campaign. I just don't think it fits PFS.

Good Luck

JP


Thanks for the feedback JP. I really appreciate it.

Katharan al-Zawree wrote:
1-I would've gone with the alchemist of your own creation instead of Skule. Having Joe alchemist (who might be a protege of the "real" Skule) would give you freedom.

The protege idea's a good one. (The irony that my villain was actually a troll laden down with alchemist's fire was utterly lost on me.)

Katharan al-Zawree wrote:
2-The minotaurs should not leave Absalom at the end. Instead mention some increasing tension between them and the merchants/thieves. (This sets up a future conflict between the two factions)

I evidently didn't communicate this clearly enough. My intent was actually to return Absalom back to its pre-adventure, (largely) minotaur-free state. My introduction was supposed to imply that a lot of minotaur slaves were being brought into Absalom.

Katharan al-Zawree wrote:
3-That one I don't know...

Yeah, I really should have addressed what happens if the PCs fail.

Katharan al-Zawree wrote:
All that said. Outside of PFS, I think the idea is solid, interesting and above all, fun to play and run. I would have liked to play/run that as a home campaign. I just don't think it fits PFS.

Thanks JP!

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