Need suggestions for an early / alternate ending (contains spoilers)

Shackled City Adventure Path


I am in need of suggestions for alternate story endings for my Shackled City campaign.

I originally decided to run the Shackled City as an experiment to see how well a 3.5e campaign would go with all official WotC sources allowed, all the way to 20th level. (The answer, in my case, is: I am ready to blow my brains out over how broken and frustrating the all-splat-books-allowed 3.5e rules are. YMMV. I blame myself.) That was nearly three-and-a-half years ago, and I just can't dedicate another year or more to this campaign.

The players, who have all min-maxed their characters to some degree, are hugely invested in both the storyline and their PCs. They've just completed Chapter 8, "Lords of Oblivion," without any difficulty, and I'd like to find an acceptable solution to bring the story to a close in 8-10 more four-hour sessions. (That's for their benefit, of course. I'd rather just kill them all next session and be done with it. ;-)) I’ve not made any mods to the campaign, except for running Delvesdeep’s Demonskar Ball way back when.

My entire group enjoys combat, but a couple of players really steal the show during the social encounters, so I’m thinking of breezing through Chapter 9’s meeting of nobles and clergy that will result in my player who has been gunning for the position of Lord Mayor being so appointed. I’ll narrate most of the rescue/evacuation stuff in “Foundation of Flame” to save time. I definitely want to run the Hookface battle, since that seems like a fun one, and I love the concept of demodands plummeting from the sky. I might even combine the two. I’d like to get through Chapter 9 in no more than two sessions.

After that, I’m at a bit of a loss for how to handle things. Chapter 10, “Thirteen Cages,” seems little more than a dungeon crawl with unmemorable encounters, though there’s a Holy Avenger sword to be found that my paladin player has been lusting for, and the Moltenwing encounter, with its role-play and deadly combat opportunities, looks fun. I know the party would love one more encounter with Vhalantru, which comes in Chapter 12, “Asylum,” where there’s also the opportunity to close the loop with Nidrama. There’s also a special hatred in the party for Embril Aloustinai, and there has been too much story involving the spell weavers to pass up including one towards the end.

Not a single one of my players took the Dream Haunted trait, so I’ve not played up Adimarchus’ madness encroaching on the material plane through dreams. Really, Adimarchus is known only as the once previous ruler of Occipitus. I’m not sure how important a direct encounter with him is to the endgame for my group.

Anyway, I’ve gone on for a bit longer than I wanted. Hopefully, this info will help spark some ideas in the community of how I can best wrap things up. Any advice or comments will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

All the best,

Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber

I think you could easily wrap things up with Thirteen Cages and a dramatic finale with the Cagewrights assembled there. Strike on Shatterhorn does little to advance the overall story line and, per your post, Adimarchus is not a player in your there is no reason to travel to Carceri.

Thanks, Greystaff. Any thoughts on how the Smoking Eye template can be involved?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

When I ran this for my wife, I used Greystaff's suggestion, and I thought that it made a better climax. You could probably tidy up some of the loose ends that you mention by shamelessly switching objects, opponents, or rooms with those from later modules if you think that they're cooler.

Perhaps you could make a breakable/disarmable gate control artifact in the room with the soulcages. The player who successfully releases the gate's power (by smashing/disarming/dispelling it) gets the template.

Good luck!

G'day Ully. Time to wrap up the campaign hey?! I'm not much more advanced than you to be honest with the group just about to go and face the Cagewright Masters in Thirteen Cages.

I've made a few changes along the journey as you know including getting rid of many of the (what I felt at least were the) 'boring parts' like Strike on Shatterhorn.

If you only have another 8-10 sessions I would break them up as follows -

Session One and Two - [u]Foundation of Fire[/u]
Do as you suggested - skip the council meeting (filler at best)
Role play much of the catastrophe of the volcano erupting but have them perhaps do one and two major heroic acts such as evacuating the lower sections while the Lake Monster makes an appearance, fight a few 'raining demodands' and then the Hookface attack.

Session Three and Four - [u]Thirteen[/u]
Direct them using a major ally back to Valantru's manor and a now opened gate which will take the players directly to the Cagewrights Hideouts. Only include the Cagewrights the players know of or who they could remember after an exciting battle.

You may wish to have Shebeleth (Spiritual Advisor) and Dyr'ryd (Leader) having consumed the other nameless masters in the ritual and they still scream and fight from cages on the tree?! The Dragon battle well worth keeping in my opinion.

Session Five - [u]Hunt for Nidrama[/u]
Hunt Embril, Spellweaver ally and the remaining Cagewrights of note such as Azrid (Blackgaurd) to rescue Nidrama from the Kopru Necropolis beneath the dark surface of the Haunted Village Lake.

Embril could summon up Valantru in new form to add to the fun.

I wouldn't involve Adimarchus at all.

There you go I left a few sessions free too. Must go.


Our group spiked it after "Thirteen Cages." We reasoned that we had defeated the threat to the city, and a lot of rebuilding needed to be done there. The Urban druid PC was much more interested in that, and he was the party leader. A different PC had the Smoking Eye, and he was somewhat a loner, so he might have headed back there. The others had their own agendas that had been put on hold to adventure with us, so it was certainly an appropriate end-point.

I see that your group may want to hunt down Embril, so that could work as a coda. I have a hankering to do something like that, perhaps with different characters and/or players.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Eric Zylstra wrote:

Perhaps you could make a breakable/disarmable gate control artifact in the room with the soulcages. The player who successfully releases the gate's power (by smashing/disarming/dispelling it) gets the template.

I had forgotten that somebody in the party already has the Smoking Eye (I skipped that adventure because I was planning to cut Adimarchus out).

You could give an opportunity for the PC to usurp Adimarchus' rule fully by absorbing the energy of the Cagewright ritual and becoming a powerful outsider. Perhaps one of the other Cagewrights (Embril or Vhalantru, possibly in combination) is planning on this too. A double-cross would provide an in-game explanation for whittling down the number of Cagewrights. Also, if one of the PCs takes Adimarchus' place, it'll both be a more epic and a more final ending: Rulers of planes don't muck about in dungeons.

Wow! I can't believe it has been a year since I opened this thread.

I just wanted to follow up and say that I decided to take the campaign all the way through to the end. Though we've only averaged one Shackled City session a month since this thread began, everyone is just so into their characters and the story—especially the Smoking Eye / Occipitus angle—that I think a climactic Adimarchus battle will cap things off nicely. I'm going to play up the plot twist ("There's something else we didn't know about that was driving the Cagewrights' motivations?!?!) to really drive them towards the finale.

Watch for my, "Whew!" post when it's all over. Hopefully, it won't take us another year. ;-)

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