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2-13 Murder on the Throaty Mermaid [SPOILERS]


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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**

Kyle Baird wrote:

This scenario was brutal! What a killer you designed Mark! ;-)

How those 4 wimpy sea elves knocked 6 PCs unconscious, I will never understand. I'm thankful you all stabilized on your own.

Kyle: So your going to sleep in your heavy armor ;-)

Dwarf: We'll I guess not. (ya I know what was going to happen)

battle on deck

Dwarf: Charges & Bull Rushes 'wimpy' sea elf.

Kyle AOO: 15 Hit

Dwarf: 6 miss

Kyle: sea elf turn -- 16 hit -- dwarf down

later ... someone taps dwarf with happy stick

Dwarf: stands

Kyle AOO: ?? Hit -- dwarf down

That's how the dice were rolling Saturday morning. Note: a bull rush was the right attack, even if it failed. I would have pushed the sea elf back 5' right off the ship ... or at least that was the plan.

The adventure still rocks!

-Swiftbrook
This time as Baruk Firestorm, Dwarf fighter

Silver Crusade ****

I remember we'd just finished our mod Cassomir's Locker, and I wandered past your table 2 hours into the slot, and you guys were taking a break from your TKO. I was simply amazed since I'd never had anyone have ANY trouble with those mermen.

Qadira ****

So I recently had the opportunity to GM this for my 3rd time. I've come to the conclusion that I HATE this module at the higher tier. Also I $&^@(#% HATE 7 player tables (and I know I spoke out against it, but I was needed to GM this in a pinch).

Party Make-Up:
Rogue 4
Oracle 4
Barbarian 4
Summoner 3
Fighter 1 / Wizard 1
Fighter 4
Wizard 5

To Save Space:
So I changed the initial set-up to make it so they weren't on this particular boat 50 days prior. I really find it annoying when players ask "Well why don't I know their names and why haven't I already completed my Faction mission? I certainly have had enough time to do so." I've heard that too many times before GMing this specific modules. Too bad saying you're on a boat for another week means people will still be like "Well I talk to this person as soon as I meet them." Just another thing on the list of things that make me despise faction missions: they incentives the players to derail the GM from telling the story so they can complete their side quests. But that's a rant for another time.

Anyway, the separatists get on board. The fight seems to go pretty well and everyone stays on the top deck until the Wizard goes invisible to sneak down the stairs to get a peek at Seph. And considering the only faction not represented was Osirian, Thanzeril is looking pretty suspicious. Anyway, they deal with the Separatists.

Wizard goes back to the party and then the ship gets alerted at the death. Not to mention, the PCs take huge offense to the Captain's words when he starts to blame them for the death. It was really hard to not just start a huge brawl at this point with the PCs because of their attitude towards the Captain. I mean, the Captain is written like he doesn't take any crap. And each time this scenario plays out all the PCs believe this boat is full of worthless, inept pirates.

Anyway, the PCs decide that they don't want to go to bed and they want to start investigating now. And even when I tried to railroad it by making the Captain and his folks tell the PCs to start the investigation in the morning with threat of force, I couldn't believe the gall of the PCs almost starting a fight and killing everyone on board.

But finally, they come to an understanding and they wake up starting the new day doing their investigation. They first meet Marzack and already deem him more worthy of taking over the ship, suggesting that they'd help get rid of the Captain because he's an incompetent fool. They talk to two other folks, and I try to steer their suspicions away from Thanz, but it just isn't working.

The wizard and barbarian decide to take a stroll down to the cargo hold and talk to the guy who is smuggling Rust Monsters. They escape in the midst of it and just go at it. I had to laugh here though because the barbarian rages and ends up killing one of them. The other rust monster, sensing no metal on them, goes up to the galley and then starts wrecking havoc on the cook's pots and pans. Needless to say Shira blames this on the two PCs who went downstairs.

The PCs on the top deck hear the battle going on down below. Someone notices and two grates on the top deck and decides to open one for a quicker way down and succeeds the pretty high DC I set for it. I should not have allowed it in the first place. Anyway, they kill Shira with ease.

At this point, the oracle is still up on the top deck and has a bone to pick with the Captain. She casts a spell at the Captain. He makes the save and is done with her. Captain yells for all his crew that it's time to throw the PCs overboard and a fight involving EVERYONE takes place.

At this point, let me say how pissed off I was at many things, especially the fact that the Captain's stat block isn't already written out. EVERY single time I GM this, everyone wants to attack the Captain (but this is the first time I've had real combat with him). And come on, Human Expert 4 / Fighter 5? Jesus this guy isn't threatening at all. I wish we could just use the Pirate Captain from the Gamemastery Guide and be done with it.

And I actually started to use the GMG Pirate Captain statblock at first since I'm managing 7 NPCs in a battle. But Captain goes at the top of the first round and he drops the summoner. At this point I feel bad for that because I'm not using the listed stats of Expert 4 / Fighter 5. So instead, I delay the scenario while I use Hero Lab on my computer to quickly create the Captain Veane. Thank the Pathfinder Gods for this program because it really came in handy.

At this point I'm really pissed off with the scenario. Luckily, the oracle rolled high on initiative and used obscuring mist and then proceeded to fall down the open hatch to the galley. The summoner manages to follow along. The rest of the PCs decide it's a good idea to kill everyone on their level, so they kill Killik first and then Thanzeril. In the mean time, Marzack sees the chaos and goes to attack the Captain when comes out of the obscuring mist. Unfortunately, he's outnumbered and the Captain pummels him to death.

The PCs kill everyone on their level and manage to block the stairs up with a moonbridge from the Oracle (btw, I think that revelation needs to be errata'd). Anyway, the Captain gets Ulammon to call lightning. At this point he doesn't care what happens to his ship and knows that waiting for the PCs to come out would just be pointless because he's vastly outnumbered. Not to mention the PCs haven't used very many spells so they are good. So Ulammon calls lightning for 5 minutes and the ship is dead on the water with fires here and there. They start to move the rowboat off the ship and the PCs decide to come up top.

The summoner summons some water elemental and blocks the pirates from their escape. They then kill the rest of the crew and put out the fires. At this point I really don't know how to handle the weather mechanic because they're still 2 days away from when that was supposed to happen. Although part of me wishes I could have just told them the storm comes and the ship is capsized because everything on it is destroyed, your characters are all dead. Anyway, another ship comes along and they are rescued after another week sitting out at sea (The Decimvirate makes sure to use divination spells on them to determine where they are at because they find this to be a very important diplomatic mission, so that's how they are found).

Things to take away: I believe this is the last time I'm GMing this scenario. I really despise how every single time PCs want to derail the events of this scenario and the fact the Captain is a chump without a stat block. I feel that I could have more control over the scenario if the PCs didn't feel they had a chance to kill him - with say the statblock of Pirate Captain in the GMG. Not to mention due to the battle this was the least fun I've had GMing, ever. And lastly, I %&(!@#* HATE 7 player tables.

Taldor ***

Wow were your players 11 years old? I would not blame the scenario for the blatantly criminal actions of a party. Attacking the Captain and crew should be grounds for turfing their characters out of the society, if not having them hanged.

One thing I was sure to emphasize at the beginning was the fact that the Captains word was the law and that they were to respect him as they would a Venture Captain.

There should be no need for a stat block. It almost seems like a reward for them to get an interesting fight out of the deal. Let them kill the Captain but make it clear the Society will hold them responsible.

I have heard of this kind of thing (attacking an ally for no reason, breaking and entering a noble house) happening in other scenarios so not sure you can write a scenario that deals with all contingencies of blatant stupidity.

Joseph Caubo wrote:

So I recently had the opportunity to GM this for my 3rd time. I've come to the conclusion that I HATE this module at the higher tier. Also I $&^@(#% HATE 7 player tables (and I know I spoke out against it, but I was needed to GM this in a pinch).

Party Make-Up:
Rogue 4
Oracle 4
Barbarian 4
Summoner 3
Fighter 1 / Wizard 1
Fighter 4
Wizard 5

** spoiler omitted **...

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Joseph Caubo wrote:
** spoiler omitted **...

It sounds like, all things considered, you did the best you could with it. With players who want to throw their weight around and attack the only clear authority figure in the scenario, there's often not much you can do to keep things on track. Sounds like the players all had fun, though, and that's what's important. The expert 4/fighter 5 statblock referenced was the CR 8 first mate statblock on page 295 of the GameMastery Guide. A foe 3 levels above the highest possible level PC should be sufficient to keep them at bay if they do attack, and the CR 11 captain on the same page is probably overkill.

Sorry you had such a tough time with the scenario. It's a story-heavy adventure that doesn't work with all parties, but all said, it sounds like you made it enjoyable for your party, even if they ended up way off the rails.

Qadira *****

I've run this 6 or 7 times now and NEVER had I had pcs follow the linear outline of the mod. This is a mod for me that is extremely challenging to run, but the more I do the more interesting it is as the story changes each and every time due to the pc actions. I do wish that the GM had more choice in who the murderer is. I'm tired of Killick's story lol.

For me, I force the encounter with the elves towards the beginning of the mod, have the cook scream when finding the body while dropping off his meal and then set the mod on the table. Very rarely do I have to pick it up again as I've got the basic plot in my head already and can add-lib as needed.

At first I was very vehement that I wasn't going to judge this mod after a con in March; but I'm finding that it's a good mod for me to work on my one role-playing skills so that I can fix one of my own shortcomings and use that in other mods that I run.

*tho I have to say I've never had one derailed quite the way the other poster did.. that's umm .. wow lol.

Taldor ***

Just to be clear Joseph, I didn't intend my post as a criticism of how you handled it. I just find it scary to think you would have several groups in a row want to take the adventure so far off the rails.

One thing that I would think is reasonable in this scenario is for the Captain to insist the party stay together as a group during the investigation, as they are suspects after all. That might help prevent the crazy actions of one individual acting alone from derailing the adventure.

Another thing I did is have the Captain order them back to their quarters right away when the discovery takes place. This way after they are accused it doesn't really matter if they wait until morning to begin investigating.

A little railroading is not a bad thing at the beginning of this adventure. They have plenty of opportunity later to play in the sandbox.

Silver Crusade ****

I'm starting to think my sales background position may be paying off. Anytime someone starts to think violent thoughts to the captain, I have one of the NPC's talk them down and guide them away from direct combat. That and the threat of them being adrift at sea with no one having profession sailor usually shuts down the "Kill them all" approach. If a group had gotten that out of hand, chances of being rescued in that scenario realistically are nil. They'd be screwed. Another question, the boat is moving, how did the obscuring mist stay with the boat?

Qadira ****

Mark Moreland wrote:

It sounds like, all things considered, you did the best you could with it. With players who want to throw their weight around and attack the only clear authority figure in the scenario, there's often not much you can do to keep things on track. Sounds like the players all had fun, though, and that's what's important. The expert 4/fighter 5 statblock referenced was the CR 8 first mate statblock on page 295 of the GameMastery Guide. A foe 3 levels above the highest possible level PC should be sufficient to keep them at bay if they do attack, and the CR 11 captain on the same page is probably overkill.

Sorry you had such a tough time with the scenario. It's a story-heavy adventure that doesn't work with all parties, but all said, it sounds like you made it enjoyable for your party, even if they ended up way off the rails.

I tried my best and I think it was fun for them. I just feel that after 3 times of running it, the story seems too open to follow what is intended. But, I have found it easier to stick to the story with players when they are squarely in 1-2 subtier because the Captain is a legitimate threat.

I also feel like levels in expert are pretty much half levels of a regular class, because it's not like they are getting special abilities for being an expert, just lame bonuses to attack and saves. Maybe if he had some levels of rogue he would be a force to be reckoned with.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

If you aren't planning on running it again then it isn't an issue, but it might be worth examining how you are portraying the Captain that results in players wanting to kill him. You mention they wanted to fight or kill him all three times you ran the scenario. I don't think that is necessarily the normal reaction he gets. I know it wasn't even discussed when we played this one. It might be that just tweaking the way you play him could radically alter the way this one runs for you.

Qadira ****

ithuriel wrote:
If you aren't planning on running it again then it isn't an issue, but it might be worth examining how you are portraying the Captain that results in players wanting to kill him. You mention they wanted to fight or kill him all three times you ran the scenario. I don't think that is necessarily the normal reaction he gets. I know it wasn't even discussed when we played this one. It might be that just tweaking the way you play him could radically alter the way this one runs for you.

When it's written in the scenario that he freaks out at the murder and then tells the Pathfinders that this is their fault, it's kind of hard to not think the Captain is an incompetent fool. Luckily it's easier to dissuade the party at 1-2, but at 4-5 with everyone being pretty high level, doesn't matter so much.

I will also say I've had discussions with 2 other GMs who ran this at the last local Con and they've expressed similar problems (although I don't think they had anyone with the gaul of actually attacking the Captain.

Now I really enjoy the role playing aspect of this scenario. In fact, when I first ran it, I thought it was a welcome shift from roll playing to role playing. But it's just so open ended that it can really go outside the realm of what the scenario wants.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

TheShadowShackleton wrote:
Wow were your players 11 years old? I would not blame the scenario for the blatantly criminal actions of a party. Attacking the Captain and crew should be grounds for turfing their characters out of the society, if not having them hanged.

Actually, no they weren't 11 and I was one of the players. Throwing insults against players when you don't know all the circumstances is pretty childish in its own right. When your party is attacked by the crew, and we defend ourselves, it is far from being a blatant criminal action.

TheShadowShackleton wrote:


I have heard of this kind of thing (attacking an ally for no reason, breaking and entering a noble house) happening in other scenarios so not sure you can write a scenario that deals with all contingencies of blatant stupidity.

This is far from what happened. We did not just attack the captain for no reason. Thanks for the insult of blatant stupidity. It shows that someone who doesn't have all the facts but still criticizes actually wears that label better.

Joe did a great job with what he dealt with. However, when the party just fought for our lives against the cook, and then the body is found and we are instantly accused and blamed for being the reason for the murder and it is all our fault even though there is absolutely no way we could have committed the murder, it is a normal reaction to want to begin the investigation right away to clear our name. Also, the way the crew is written that they have no respect for a group of Pathfinders who have done nothing is pretty grating.

The combat with the ship's crew and captain all began because a Hypnotic Pattern was cast to stop the captain from blaming the Pathfinders of the murder while we were trying to investigate. After Hypnotic Pattern was saved against, the entire crew rolled initiative and we were forced into making the choice of defending ourselves or being thrown overboard.

Finally, I apologize for being at a table that made things so miserable for you Joe. It was certainly not the intent. Its just one of those scenarios where everything goes wrong on both sides of the table adn wrecks the scenario.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I don't understand why the Captain wanted you to wait until the next morning to begin your investigation. I might be overlooking it, but I don't see that anywhere in the scenario and it should be expected anyone would rebel against that.

As far as the Captain's accusation it just has this...

“You’re the only ones on this ship I don’t know well,” he
says, pointing accusingly at the PCs. “I’m not taking the
rap for this, by Besmara, and neither is my crew. It might
not be fair, but when we get to the Mordant Spire in three
days, it’s you who’ll have to answer for Sephriel’s death!”

It is possible to play that less as accusing tyrant and more of exasperated Han Solo. Downplay the rage and go with more of "I'm not taking the rap for this."

EDIT: Also- it is easy to forget, but Pathfinders don't exactly have a sterling reputation with the rest of the world. A close knit crew of smugglers siding with each other over a group of grave robbing opportunists doesn't seem far fetched to me- though the mod is not written in any way so as to encourage a mass brawl with the crew. When the Captain says you have three days to clear your name, attacking the Captain is not the foreseen outcome or the path that most groups are going to take.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

The captain wasn't attacked until he rolled initiative, won initiative, and killed a Pathfinder on his first attack, and then ordered his crew to kill the rest of us. At that point, the crew is now an enemy to the Pathfinders and, unless the rest of the party wants to die, it is defend ourselves against the entire crew. We choose to live. If the Pathfinders wish to throw all of our characters out of the Society, so be it. Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6. Bottom line, had the captain not ordered his crew to attack the party, and not attacked and killed a Pathfinder himself, the battle royale would have never happened. The captain drew first blood. We reciprocated in kind.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Well- you did cast a spell on him trying to alter his mental state before that from what I read. Things happen in a scenario, but ideally it shouldn't have escalated like that. Knowledge that you didn't beat his save, a stern word from the Captain and him letting you know that he would be including this incident in his report would have been another way to go. Having him physically attack first and draw all of the crew into it goes against the way he is supposed to operate as a deterrent and figure of authority.

"If, in the course of their investigation,
PCs attack any of the potential murderers or [one other guy],
Captain Veane intervenes and puts an end to the combat,
insisting that he needs his crew to reach the Mordant
Spire and get the PCs safely to land."

The way it ran for you guys the Captain, who isn't even statted out in the mod because he isn't intended to be a combatant, took such offense to the spell that he decided a suicide mission was the way to go by drawing all of his tiny crew into the fight for his honor (?).

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

There have been a couple of scenarios where parties naturally wander off-script. "Stay of Execution" was one of these. I imagine that "Throaty Mermaid" is another.

Andoran *****

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I struggled to find the relevant information quickly and to adjust it to allow for the chosen Murderer when my "detectives" started the interrogations. So I collected all the information for each Suspect with their Location and Faction Missions. Here it is as a PDF file.
Go to DOWNLOAD
And here are initiative cards to help me run the combats at a fast pace.
Go to DOWNLOAD

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Michael Brock wrote:
The captain wasn't attacked until he rolled initiative, won initiative, and killed a Pathfinder on his first attack, and then ordered his crew to kill the rest of us. At that point, the crew is now an enemy to the Pathfinders and, unless the rest of the party wants to die, it is defend ourselves against the entire crew. We choose to live. If the Pathfinders wish to throw all of our characters out of the Society, so be it. Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6. Bottom line, had the captain not ordered his crew to attack the party, and not attacked and killed a Pathfinder himself, the battle royale would have never happened. The captain drew first blood. We reciprocated in kind.

In all fairness, he killed a PC on his first attack because a higher level statblock was used against you. The scenario specifically states "Stats for the captain should be unnecessary in this scenario, but if they are needed, use the First Mate stats on page 295 of the GameMastery Guide." If the stats for the CR 11 Captain on the same page were used instead, it's not hard to guess how a PC was insta-killed. Having the crew further rally around him in one big brawl was even less off script, as most of the crew wasn't loyal to him anyway. Marzack certainly wasn't, since his whole reason for killing Sephriel was so the captain would take the fall and he'd get a free promotion.

This scenario was a giant experiment to see how far we could push the roleplay element and sandbox nature of a scenario. So while I hate to hear of situations where the adventure went so off-script on both sides of the table, it's nevertheless important feedback.

In the end, I hope everyone had a good time, despite the scenario being such a mess at this particular table. That's what's ultimately important.

Qadira ****

Michael Brock wrote:
Stuff

No apologies needed. I want to apologize for my language earlier. I wasn't pissed off with anyone at the table, and I'm sorry if I came off that way at all. I like going off the rails from time to time (Shades of Ice, Part I comes to mind), it just wasn't as fun (to me at least) this time.

It was as much of my fault (probably more mine) as any of the player interactions with the NPCs. I was woefully unprepared for such a huge combat involving 14 characters total (7 of which I was in control of). I hated how long combat took. Now I feel really dumb for not noticing the First Mate in GMG is the stats for the Captain. Ugh. Mark, would you mind adding a note to look in the GMG for the stat block if they need it? I think that would have gone a long way alleviating my headache.

Anyway, what I completely didn't proofread earlier is that regardless of my frustration and wanton destruction I wanted to cause with a Kraken coming along, I did find it remarkable that the party did put up with the insanely long combat and surviving against the odds. More than anything, it is a pretty good story.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Joseph Caubo wrote:
Mark, would you mind adding a note to look in the GMG for the stat block if they need it? I think that would have gone a long way alleviating my headache.

It's in there. Page 18, at the end of Captain Veane's entry in the Dramatis Personae.

Qadira ****

Mark Moreland wrote:
In all fairness, he killed a PC on his first attack because a higher level statblock was used against you. The scenario specifically states "Stats for the captain should be unnecessary in this scenario, but if they are needed, use the First Mate stats on page 295 of the GameMastery Guide." If the stats for the CR 11 Captain on the same page were used instead, it's not hard to guess how a PC was insta-killed. Having the crew further rally around him in one big brawl was even less off script, as most of the crew wasn't loyal to him anyway. Marzack certainly wasn't, since his whole reason for killing Sephriel was so the captain would take the fall and he'd get a free promotion.

The Summoner took a full round attack in order to drop (and it connected on 3 out of 4 hits). That kind of let me know it probably wasn't right.

Also, Marzack did make his attack against the Captain, and had 3 crew members watching. The Captain managed to drop Marzack pretty easily in 2 rounds (considering his partner was below deck getting owned in the face). That might have something to do with Azueretta succeeding on her hold person on Marzack. I did give her a role to decide her allegiance.

Quote:
This scenario was a giant experiment to see how far we could push the roleplay element and sandbox nature of a scenario. So while I hate to hear of situations where the adventure went so off-script on both sides of the table, it's nevertheless important feedback.

I'm happy to give feedback.

Quote:
In the end, I hope everyone had a good time, despite the scenario being such a mess at this particular table. That's what's ultimately important.

I hope my personal frustrations didn't take away from people playing the scenario. I assume (I hope correctly) the table didn't know the logistical nightmare occurring in my head. It was a great learning experience, and I think I might start instituting more personal GM rules like a timer to decide what you do in a round. Considering this lasted past midnight on a weeknight with work in the morning, I know things really were dragging at the end.

Quote:
Where it's at.

I dumb, I fail. The longer this thread goes on, the more I have to laugh now at how horribly I failed my spot checks for reading things like where the stat block could be found.

Taldor ***

Hey Michael. My apologies it wasn't meant to be as harsh as it came across. As you say I didn't have all the facts and shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. I really couldn't see how any of this could have happened with reasonable players if it was run as I interpreted the interaction with the Captain but I obviously didn't have know the full story. I have to say I don't know how I would react as a GM if the party threatened the authority figure with spellcasting but sounds like it spun out of control pretty quick.

My "blatant stupidity" comment was entirely intended to refer to the other things I have heard of that can't be prepared for, such as one scenario in which a party was supposed to go to a dinner party at a specific time. They showed up at the mansion hours early and when they were denied entry they assaulted the doorman and forced their way in and attacked the household staff. All of this was unprovoked and derailed the adventure. That was what I meant by saying the designers could not be expected to account for blatant stupidity. This was clearly not the situation here.

Is it too late to blame my iPhone?

I loved running this adventure which is perhaps part of the reason I was jumping to its defence. It seemed like the writer was being blamed for what sounds like just a game session gone wrong.

Taldor ***

Knowing more of the situation, thus is exactly what I would have said if I hadn't rolled a 1 on Diplomacy.

ithuriel wrote:

Well- you did cast a spell on him trying to alter his mental state before that from what I read. Things happen in a scenario, but ideally it shouldn't have escalated like that. Knowledge that you didn't beat his save, a stern word from the Captain and him letting you know that he would be including this incident in his report would have been another way to go. Having him physically attack first and draw all of the crew into it goes against the way he is supposed to operate as a deterrent and figure of authority.

"If, in the course of their investigation,
PCs attack any of the potential murderers or [one other guy],
Captain Veane intervenes and puts an end to the combat,
insisting that he needs his crew to reach the Mordant
Spire and get the PCs safely to land."

The way it ran for you guys the Captain, who isn't even statted out in the mod because he isn't intended to be a combatant, took such offense to the spell that he decided a suicide mission was the way to go by drawing all of his tiny crew into the fight for his honor (?).


As one of the, umm, guilty parties involved in this, I have to give a big pat on the back to Joe for dealing with this as well as he did. A potentially really bad situation was avoided and we managed to finally finish. And as a whole I think some fun was had. Certainly some frustration for a few points, but still some moments of humor.

I agree fully with Joe that 7 player tables are no fun. When you are trying to role play, as well as have 7 people trying to finish their faction missions (which typically require some one on one time), along with trying to finish a module to fit a time slot, it is just too much. On a boat with all of us splitting up to try to accomplish our missions secretly, just sheer craziness.

Thanks again to Joe for dealing with us at our craziest. Thanks to Mark for trying to take the modules in new directions as well as participating in the discussions.

As for me it confirmed that I will drop out of a table before playing with 7 again in Society play.

*

Yeah, I'm not going to play the captain as written. If the captain gets too excited, the PCs will get excited and feel threatened, that's why they attack. It's probably unreasonable to accuse them immediately as well (maybe say "one of you"). It will go more like...

Marzack (Excited): "We're in deep s*$~ now Captain, etc etc." (nothing yet saying the captain could suffer for the crime).

Captain (Calmly and nicely): "Well... since you and that idiot Thanzeril, wherever he is, is responsible the protection of the ambassador, I have no choice but to turn you over to the authorities at Mordant Spire. You have three days to figure out how the ambassador was murdered. I recommend you use your time wisely."

If spoken to he'll say the following.
Captain: "My crew is trustworthy in these matters and are beyond reproach".

Captain: "Have any of your party been acting... strangely lately?" (Doppleganger insinuation. I might take 1-2 players aside at some point).

I'm also going to let them start the investigation ASAP. It makes no sense at all waiting until morning, you find clues when they're fresh!

Regarding killing everyone on board. I would have the captain say "Are you crazy, if you kill us, how are you going to get back to shore?" a few times. I'd make it pretty blatant that they're dead if they kill the crew.

At the start of the scenario, I'm going to mention the only reason the ship can be undermanned is because of the Ulamon.

Unless at least 3 of the PCs have Profession (sailor) and one of them has the Weather domain (which is the only reason this ship can sail undermanned), they are pretty much screwed, and will spend the rest of their days starving or dehydrating to death on the ship. They're stranded and don't even know how to navigate, adjust sails, nothing! So being sitting ducks, if storms or hitting land doesn't kill them, they might be found by pirates. If they kill Thanzeril, the elves will probably kill them too. I'd say a TPK isn't out of the question and it's just a matter of what happens first.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I can't find anywhere in the scenario that the Captain tells the PCs to wait until morning to begin their investigation. If it is in there and I'm missing it, it needs to be dropped. Having the Captain inexplicably enforce a bedtime curfew right at the beginning of a murder investigation just screams, "Get these guys out of my hair while we cleanse the crime scene." That alone is a huge reason the PCs are hating the Captain and nearly fighting him every time you run this one Joseph. Just change that if you ever run it again.

Qadira ****

ithuriel wrote:
I can't find anywhere in the scenario that the Captain tells the PCs to wait until morning to begin their investigation. If it is in there and I'm missing it, it needs to be dropped. Having the Captain inexplicably enforce a bedtime curfew right at the beginning of a murder investigation just screams, "Get these guys out of my hair while we cleanse the crime scene." That alone is a huge reason the PCs are hating the Captain and nearly fighting him every time you run this one Joseph. Just change that if you ever run it again.

That was never an issue in earlier times. But where you meet the NPCs on the boat I assume are where they would be during the day. I also don't think they'd be happy to be accosted about a situation at 3 A.M. when most would be getting shut eye. Not to mention that'd really piss of Shira trying to get some shut eye (hahahah I made a funny).

/Poor Shira.

*

I always figured the crew would be on "high alert" for at least 1-2 hours after the attack, perhaps expecting another. When someone tries to kill you, it's pure adrenaline, I'm sure the crew would want to talk to each other too.

1-2 hours should be enough to do the entire investigation, the "storm", and finish the scenario, imo. I guess we'll see.

Andoran *****

Havent played or GMed the mod yet, or even read it, so pardon my genericness. Also havent read the entire thread, cause its long.

@ Jason:

Spoiler:
You could have the diplomat change places with their gaurds, so really, the PCs think they are guarding the diplomat when they are guarding the guard (like Padme in SW episode 1). Somehow the murderer finds out about the switch, kills the real diplomat while the pcs are guarding the guard, the guard reveals he isnt really the diplomat, and go from there.

Taldor ***

Rob Silk wrote:

I struggled to find the relevant information quickly and to adjust it to allow for the chosen Murderer when my "detectives" started the interrogations. So I collected all the information for each Suspect with their Location and Faction Missions. Here it is as a PDF file.

Go to DOWNLOAD
And here are initiative cards to help me run the combats at a fast pace.
Go to DOWNLOAD

Hey just wanted to thank you for doing these up. I am running this at Cangames this weekend and these will come in very handy.

Merci beaucoup!

*

So I had my session. All I can say is “wow”. This scenario is roleplaying on steroids. As a matter of fact, that’s almost ALL my group did all session.

Three of my players loved Mermaid, one player didn’t like it (although it looked like he was having a good time). I’d call it a success. Mermaid took a lot of preparation to do properly as a GM (6 hours of prep time for me) and I don't think it's a scenario you just “pick up and play”.

My (home) session went into overtime, 6.5 hours, and had only one (the first) combat encounter. For various reasons the other combat encounters didn’t come into effect. Imo, it would probably be a really bad idea running this scenario at a convention for the first time. I had only 4 players also!

The main things that slowed the adventure down were:
1) Letting players purchase gear before the scenario. I probably should have started the process as soon as the players got to the table (before Sheila). And limited it more in time.

2) The intro with Heidmarsh took too long (questions and improv, partially my fault). I appreciate the “fast starts” to most scenarios a lot more now, less time wasters.

3) What took the most time was everyone (trying) to do their faction missions in the first 7 days of travel. If there were no faction missions, my game would have been on time.

4) The obvious huge amount of roleplay everywhere.

The game got incredibly fun once the

Spoiler:
elves attacked and the investigation got started.
I somehow wish I could push up to that point without railroading the faction missions.

Which brings me to faction missions. My players are new to PFOS, but so far they don’t like faction missions very much. My opinion on faction missions is that I wish there was only 1 faction mission per scenario, and that mission is the hard one. 2 missions per PC is just too much, especially on an investigational / roleplay scenario like this.

”The following encounters were never used”:

Shira: They never provoked her or got caught.

Rust Monster: It was late and already overtime, no one had hardly any large metal items on them (to provoke the rust monsters into breaking their cage), and no one was Qadiran. So I just let it go.

Snig: They didn’t attack or provoke him.

Storm Strikes: Imo, each and every GM should remove this encounter. It’s confusing (for the GM), takes time that could be spent doing other things, and the storm does hardly any damage to the PCs. It’s a time waster.
Imo, it also made no sense that the PCs are on the main deck while the rest of the crew are below. What can my PC, who isn’t a sailor, do on deck besides being knocked around like a bloody pinball? Why is the crew below?
Also my players were glad we skipped it, because they’d seen that sort of thing dozens of time in organized play over the years.

The Final Reveal: I thought the final reveal was silly, especially considering how intelligent Marzack is. The PCs have no real evidence at all (only circumstantial), and it's a suicide mission attacking 4-7 PCs vs two.

I made my PCs sweat bullets all the way into port, Marzack tried to convince the PCs to attack the Captain (with the rest of the crew!) to save themselves. (It was a 3 vs 1 vote, but it was close). 3 days to port also gives the PCs time to TRICK the murderers into revealing themselves (or use spells). I made them select who they thought were the murderers when confronted by the elves, which was way more fun. They got it right.

Regarding that one combat encounter with the elves, it nearly TPKed us. I rolled horribly (five “1s” in 20 roles, everything under 10) or they would have been dead. The problem is that I had only 4 players (no martial classes) and we had a guard on Sephriel’s door.

Which brings me to my next point, I was right about my players (even though they didn’t know the spoiler title of the scenario), they had a guard on Seph’s door who wouldn’t leave (even when ordered by the 1st mate). I was forced to use

Spoiler:
Azuretta as the killer, because she’s the only one with the tools to deal with this kind of situation (the killer should have been Killik).
It worked out great and I didn't have to railroad anyone.

I found this scenario to be extremely “adult themed”, which was fine considering my players enjoyed it. Azuetta was the catalyst for everything of course. Maybe I’m part of the problem :), but the themes are really strong and it would ruin a lot of the flavor if it were converted for kiddies. Btw, my players think Mark is a pervert. Lol. Next scenario I promised less Krakens, less whores, and less cross dressers. :)

”The rest of the story”:
So the elves attacked, anchored the boat, tore sails down, sabotaged the wheel. (The idea was that these were just scouts and stopping the Mermaid would allow for a greater attack). One of my players was bullrushed off the ship but was saved. Once the elves were defeated, the rest of the crew spent the night repairing the ship so we wouldn’t get any further attacks, which meant easy access for questions.

They eventually figured out who the murderers were but had no hard evidence, only a hunch. The best part was Marzack trying to convince them to kill the captain instead of taking a chance going into the elven port and being punished. Choices!

I had a Cheliaxian player who was attacked by Azuretta and he killed her by throwing her overboard. What actually happened is that he faked her death and she used a pot of invisibility to escape detection and hide on the boat until they left the elven port again.


Anyway, overall, very strange scenario (actually epic for the Chelaxian player) and it was a lot of fun (5 stars!). I’ll post my cheat notes later.

Taldor ***

I ran this scenario for our seasoned PFS players this past weekend. They enjoyed it. I ran into a similar situation though with PCs wanting to sit outside the room to protect Sephriel. I came up with a creative solution I'd like to share.

Spoiler:
I had the PCs decide watches they would keep while remembering that they had been at sea for 50 days with nothing happening. I then rolled randomly to decide during which watch the ship would be attacked. There was one PC about 20 feet from Sephriel's door. When the attack happened, all-hands were summoned on deck. The PC on watch made it partially up the steps to the deck after being netted by a sea elf.

So how did I have Sephriel killed? I let the players decide. Rather than come up with my own explanation, I just listened to them theorize as to how the murder was done. Azuretta was the killer in my game, and the PCs knew she often hung out in the Captain's quarters. At one point, one of them asked if there was a trapdoor between the Captain's quarters and the First Mate's quarters where Sephriel was killed. While the scenario didn't have it, I decided that there was one that hadn't been used the entire time that the PCs were on board - Azuretta had climbed through that into Sephriel's quarters and then lured Thanzeril away. When the players asked how Thanzeril had left his post without the PC on watch noticing, I hand waved and suggested it maybe happened in the chaos of the fight.

In other words, players have pretty creative imaginations. If you get into a pinch with how Sephriel is killed, just let it happen and then let the discussion of the players decide how it was done.

Looking back, I think I could have covered my bases by stating that if any Pathfinders were awake, the Captain required that at least one of them be on deck. That would cover more scenarios.

*

I uploaded my 1 page outline for the scenario and my 1 page character information grid, if this helps anyone. I like everything on one page... basically with these two pages, this is all I need to know to run the scenario.

Here's the link.
http://www.zumodrive.com/share/cwUrYWFjYW.

Good luck!

*****

Just got this scenario to run for my group. It looks great, but I noticed that Ulamon is listed as wearing either MW or +1 Studded Leather depending on tier. However

PRD wrote:
Druids are proficient with light and medium armor but are prohibited from wearing metal armor; thus, they may wear only padded, leather, or hide armor.

It probably rarely comes up since he is the Andoran contact, so you'd either have to have all five factions present (unlikely) or no Andoran characters (even more unlikely) for him to even have a chance to be the murderer.

However, in case it does, he should have 1 lower AC due to wearing Leather (or 1 higher but slower move due to wearing Hide).

Qadira *

To bring any body guards up from down below I would likely first have the first mate demand he helps in the fight and remind him it is mutiny to disobey an ranking crew member. If they still resist I would keep adding elves to the attack and make it obvious that the guard is really needed on the deck to defend the ship. This also gives the captain a motive to blame the PC for murder because he was slow in responding to the fight, and it also makes the PC's rightly suspicious of the first-mate.

I'm running this tonight and will let you know how it goes.

Cheliax ***

Have been reading the scenario and thread in preparation for running it and it does need a lot of prep, but looks like a fun GMing challenge.

There are so many characters and stat blocks it must have been quite a challenge to create in the first place.

On the Tier 1-2 elves it has them down as CR 1/2 but they actually look more like CR 1, so I can see they might be a strong challenge for a first level party - especially if there are only four players.

Regarding the crew size issue I was considering making it back story that a couple of crew members deserted at the last port of call and with it not being storm season and Ulamons magic assistance they decided to run light - and of course they are pirates and fewer crew means bigger shares per crew member. I will ponder if there are some fun minor magical items or other spell assistance that can be used here to add flavor. Also if a PC has useful magic or items that would help that would be a good tie in too.

If the party stand guard and make it difficult for others to get into the cabin, then I plan to

Spoiler:
either give the pirates whatever minor magical assistance they would need to achieve their goal. They are pirates so could have picked up a potion of invisibility or whatever. Or just use a concelead trapdoor as mentioned - which also sounds like the sort of thing pirates might have installed.

Qadira *

If anyone here uses Hero Lab and plans on running this, I have all the Tier 1-2 NPC's entered and will gladly share to save people time. I will probably also do the Tier 4-5 this week because I'm obsessive like that.

You can email me at mpwinn@gmail.com, with the subject "Murder on the Throaty Mermaid NPC's"

On a side note: Worldworks games makes a papercraft ship, The Maiden, which is perfect for this scenario (though you have to use the bottom floor for both the bottom and mid-levels of the ship, so there's a little juggling)

Taldor

Coming to this thread late however....

I'm considering the PC's as being drafted in as more trustworthy crew by the PFS. This gives them something to do and to get idea of what it's like to work for the first mate (why the ship is short of crew). Also it gives a reason why they might be out in the storm, they've already performed the necessary jobs and it would not be unreasonable for the first mate to send them there. Likewise for ship's watches.

Re: "knivesies", is this it?

http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/curse-of-the-crimson/wikis/knivsies

***

My mate ran this last night and it was a blast. My second time playing it, however he did something very unconventional:

Spoiler:
He needed a way to kill off the elf even if we stayed at the door the entire time. So what he did was had the accomplice to the first mate be the Dwarf Cleric "ship medic" and channeled negative energy from under the elf's room. It was a very clever way to kill the elf without having to go into the room

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

Mortifier wrote:

My mate ran this last night and it was a blast. My second time playing it, however he did something very unconventional:

** spoiler omitted **

I am glad that you guys had fun and your GM managed to deal with a stubborn group of players by adapting a creative solution. However, he should read the burst & line of effect explanations on pg 214-215 of the Core Rules. Nevertheless I'd think the elf would make some noise as he was being hit with negative energy, but maybe a silence and hold person were involved as well. And sometimes it's more fun not to ask so many questions and just play the damn game ;)

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Los Angeles (Inland Empire)

Mortifier wrote:

My mate ran this last night and it was a blast. My second time playing it, however he did something very unconventional:

** spoiler omitted **

+1000

It was a fun adventure. I am glad I played. We had a full table, were thoroughly challenged. Our GM did an awesome job.

Andoran **

I just read this whole thread. Wow...a lot of amazing ideas.

I'd like some feedback on a story-telling tool regarding this module:

spoiler:

Someone mentioned the optional storm encounter. Part of me thinks moving the storm to the beginning would be a great distraction tactic allowing for the murder. Even the most determined PC would have a hard time guarding the door when a potentially deadly storm is raging around them and all hands are needed on deck.

The chaos and the running around to all parts of the ship would give the murderer just the right moment to strike. Follow this with the separatist encounter shortly thereafter as a way of challenging the party.

Or heck, let's say we play it as written: they PCs don't fall for the elf separatist distraction. Kudos to them. The storm strikes soon thereafter then the murder occurs as above. I think having the storm's arrival move as needed may be a more realistic tool for the GM than the separatist attack.

I figure I couldn't do this in official PFS play, but maybe a home game.

Thoughts?

*

Silverhand wrote:
I'd like some feedback on a story-telling tool regarding this module:

What you're proposing would work, however

1) In my experience if some PCs won't leave the door, they're not leaving the door. No matter what. Especially for a storm in which the PCs aren't qualified to help and several crew should be able to do their job. Many GMs railroad players PCs into a situation where they don't guard the door (never let them speak or through Captain threats), I prefer to use Azuretta if that happens. She has all the tools to take out 1 PC quietly.

2) The storm eats up valuable time. If you're constrained by time, it has to go.

3) If you did the storm and followed it up with the elves, you could TPK the party at subtier 1-2. I know I almost did it by accident and it was only by absolutely terrible (non-fudged btw) rolls it didn't happen.

4) If they don't "fall" for the elven distraction, as I've written in notes, I had them use oil of Hold Portal on the Captain's door (the only logical explanation for the Captain not helping!) and the elves trash and disable the ship. In addition, if only some of the PCs go up top, it could lead to TPK.

Anyway, just prepare well and good luck, this is a fun one. My players are STILL talking about it, several months later.

Andoran **

A small note regarding the first encounter - perhaps a GM tool?

Spoiler:
On page 5, the module states that the "PCs' may be in their bunks in area 5 or on watch on the main deck (area 2)."

If read literally, the quote above would mean the PCs MUST be at either area 2 or area 5, no where else, prior to the aquatic elf attack. The perception checks that follow the quote also assume the PCs are either in area 2 or area 5.

Sephriel is in section 8 of the ship, the First Mate's quarters.

If the PCs fail their perception checks, that doesn't mean the first mate did. He and his conspirator can take advantage of the attack and commit the murder while the PCs sleep, as written.

The risk remains, however, that if the PCs make their perception checks, they might run toward Sephriel's room. If so, the GM could say the PCs find Sephriel dead already, the murder having just taken place. Perhaps the timing was a coincidence the GM might say. Either way, the murder's taken place because the PC starting location can be controlled by the GM if he wishes to refer to the module in a literal way.

Thoughts on this? Thanks!

*

Silverhand wrote:
If read literally, the quote above would mean the PCs MUST be at either area 2 or area 5, no where else, prior to the aquatic elf attack. The perception checks that follow the quote also assume the PCs are either in area 2 or area 5.

It's just a guideline, that's where they're supposed to be but they can be anywhere. It's night and my PCs had one guy on top of the ship, one guy in front of Sephriel's room (Theran went to do his thing), and the rest sleeping up top. Most GMs will railroad and assume that everyone will be on deck sleeping, it's the easiest and fastest way to get things going.

Silverhand wrote:


If the PCs fail their perception checks, that doesn't mean the first mate did. He and his conspirator can take advantage of the attack and commit the murder while the PCs sleep, as written.

If the PCs fail their Perception, it doesn't really matter since the fight is coming to them. The elves will be trashing the ship and looking where (most of) the PCs are sleeping.

1st mate could do the murder, but he has someone else to do the dirty work, so the original plot still makes more sense (unless you have the PCs chase the original murderer below deck).

Silverhand wrote:
The risk remains, however, that if the PCs make their perception checks, they might run toward Sephriel's room.

If they tried to run to his room, they still have to pass the elves, so the elves are still a distraction.

The elves are actually more than a distraction, with PCs spread out, you could have a TPK. We were within 3 hp of a TPK for my session. If the PCs are adamant about not leaving Seph's door, I feel it's quite reasonable. If the PCs win easily on deck and have guards on the door, I'd use Azuretta, she has all the skills needed to take out 1 PC and do the job.

Andoran **

I finally got a chance to run this module. Tier 1-2, the accomplice being:

Spoiler:
Killick
Here are my findings:

The Murder:

Spoiler:
I played the module RAW, so I confined the players to the deck or their quarters during the Aquatic Elf attack. The battle was memorable and fun. One player went to negative hit points, another came close. An exciting first encounter. One player asked how the Elves managed to follow the Throaty Mermaid for all this time, and more importantly, how did they know Sephriel was on board? The player was trying to connect the dots between the murder and the attack. Sadly, there are no dots to connect since the encounter and murder were merely coincidental. It would have been more satisfying if one of the elf separatists had a note with latitude and longitude on it, perhaps written by the first mate some months earlier. Or even a page ripped out of the captain's log book. Something to make the event feel less coincidental.

The Mystery:

Spoiler:
My players invested hours into sleuthing out the murderer. The problem is, for all their sleuthing, there are simply not enough clues to convict anyone until the murderer and his accomplice make themselves known at the end. After all that work and time invested in the investigation, at least one player felt cheated. As an aside, my players were so careful, they avoided killing the rust monster, thus hearing the vital clue that the first mate and his accomplice had arrived earlier to inspect the rust monster (preparing to destroy the murder weapon). Even knowing this, the players still hadn't gathered enough proof to satisfy the captain.

The cook:

spoiler:
My players ended up fighting Shira Acidaxe. Being rather careful types, they simply closed on her and grappled. She got off one bomb but that's it. The combination of a very confined battlefield and only one combatant made this encounter less than explosive.

In conclusion:

Spoiler:
The players enjoyed the game. One player commented that it was a welcome change of pace to have a chance to actually role play and not just move from combat encounter to combat encounter. That said, another player openly stated he was hoping to fight something soon (tired of sleuthing). I'd recommend this scenario for more mature players looking for a chance to do some acting. I simply wish there was a way for the players to solve the mystery without having to wait for the culprits to reveal themselves.

Silver Crusade **

I'm prepping this adventure to run on Monday at a public PFS game night. Not sure who my players will be, what levels, or their factions. In fact, I just moved to the area recently, so I don't know that many of the regulars yet. So I need to be ready for anything. Reading this thread has been helpful.

I actually played this one earlier this year, but it's been so long that I don't remember all the details of how it went. I just remember

Spoiler:
that our GM did such a great job describing how dirty and grimy the ship was that my sheltered big city cleric decided to cast Purify Food and Water at every meal, thus completely bypassing the whole subplot with the chef poisoning everyone (which we only found out about when the GM told us after it was over).

I'm still trying to decide out how to handle a couple of details, which others have mentioned in this thread. I'm thinking that I need to heavily emphasize when the PCs first come on board that the captain is in charge, and his word is law. And he'll tell them that he only allowed them on his ship to help ward off any outside attackers, so they're required to stay above deck and not interact with the crew. This will prevent constant guarding of Seph's door, as well as preventing anyone from starting on faction missions before the

Spoiler:
elf attack
in the first encounter. It will also make the first encounter less surprising, but I'm ok with that.

Similarly, I like the idea of using a less accusatory tone when the captain tells the PCs they have to figure out the murder. ie, "Since you were responsible for guarding him, you'd better figure out who killed him before we make it to our destination. Since you have to investigate, I guess I'll allow you to wander the whole ship and talk to the crew now, but don't get in the way of people doing their jobs." This will be the declaration of "Game on!" for faction missions, as well.

Shadow Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Fromper wrote:

I'm prepping this adventure to run on Monday at a public PFS game night. Not sure who my players will be, what levels, or their factions. In fact, I just moved to the area recently, so I don't know that many of the regulars yet. So I need to be ready for anything. Reading this thread has been helpful.

I actually played this one earlier this year, but it's been so long that I don't remember all the details of how it went. I just remember

** spoiler omitted **

Personally, I've enjoyoed

Spoiler:
Having the regular crew be sick to their stomachs after a bad dinner by the cook, begging the PCs to take their shift on-deck for them. It also puts some suspicion on the cook for being involved. When I ran it last, the First Mate also threw some blame at the cook when the PCs started in on him a bit early-on in the investigation, and it went hilariously :)

**** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Philadelphia

Any chance that anyone knows a place that I can order the flip mat for this?

This is the only flip map I can't seem to find anywhere.

Andoran ***

Jeffrey Fox wrote:

Any chance that anyone knows a place that I can order the flip mat for this?

This is the only flip map I can't seem to find anywhere.

The Ship flip-mat is out of print, so you only have a couple of options.

1) Purchase the PDF, which is still available, and get your local printshop to make you a full size print of it, preferably laminated for re-use. (It is used in at least one other scenario)

2) Search sites like Amazon and eBay for used copies that someone may be selling off. No guarantees on availability or price, in that case.

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