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"You found my brooch, you're the saviors of Korvosa!"


Curse of the Crimson Throne


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Did anyone else thing this line of reasoning was a little faulty? I've been VERY impressed with Paizo's APs thus far, and I went ahead and downloaded Curse of the Crimson Throne. I found it, well, disappointing. Rise of the Runelords took a lot of classic ideas and put a new spin on them, but it seems like Crimson Throne just takes a bunch of old cliches and puts them on a different canvas - they're new on the surface, but in the end, it feels like the characters and plots are just filled with trite or half-baked ideas. NPC motivations are iffy and they employ some pretty questionable logic.

The other thing I found a little superfluous were the "cutscenes," those instances that seem to fill the AP in which something cool is occurring and the players are ultimately powerless to interact with it in any way, such as...

Spoiler:
When Blackjack busts in at the end of the first adventure, or in the 3rd adventure when there is an assassination attempt against Queen Illeosa. That one REALLY bugged me, actually. An entire page of AP dedicated to a detailed description of a 5-round event that the PCs aren't even present for? Does anyone else thing this was something of a vanity on the part of the author?

Sorry, I know I probably sound a little whiny, I just wanted to know if anyone else was underwhelmed by this AP?

Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

Moved to the Crimson Throne forums.


martinaj wrote:


The other thing I found a little superfluous were the "cutscenes," those instances that seem to fill the AP in which something cool is occurring and the players are ultimately powerless to interact with it in any way...

My experience is that this AP is all over the board.

Edge of Anarchy has an interesting premise (adventuring against the background of a city torn by riots) but it suffers from being a collection of scenarios rather than a unified adventure. Something of a fixer-upper.

Seven Days to the Grave is just awesome. Absolutely solid. High concept -- adventuring in the middle of a major plague -- pulled off with brio. One of the best Pathfinder modules; really one of the best 3.x modules, period.

Escape from Old Korvosa is really weak. Some neat ideas, but mixed in with some red herrings and dopey stuff. (Undead elephants? Wait, how'd they get those on the boat from Vudra?) If we reach this point I will rip hell out of this one and may throw half of it away.

History of Ashes is either awesome and great or stupid and annoying, depending entirely on how much tolerance your players have for obvious, blatant, in-game railroads. The setup is basically "infodump, this guy tells you that you must do X to get the McGuffin, but to do that you must first go to place Y to find Z, and then after that you must do A, B and C." If your players will stand for this, then they can have a great time -- the Cinderlands are a terrific setting, and the adventure includes a barbarian initiation ritual, ancient ruins, a tentacled horror from beyond the stars, mass attack by assassins and their gargoyle allies, lots of wilderness trekking, getting swallowed by a giant flaming worm, and a party.

Overall I think it's a decent path with some brilliant bits. "Something of a fixer-upper" probably applies to the whole thing as well as the first module, but I don't feel my money was wasted on it, and I'm not unhappy with any of it (though I come close with part 3, "Escape").

Cutscenes: well, either you like cutscenes or you don't. It's a judgment call. Personally I love 'em, so I had no problem with these, but YMMV.

spoiler:
The first one -- Blackjack -- does allow the PCs to intervene, even if the outcome is preordained. The second one takes place offstage and you have to judge how to present it to the players. I don't really think it's a vanity -- after all, the whole AP is about the ever-growing cruelty, power and menace of the Queen. So having her publicly kill an important NPC is a perfectly reasonable part of the story.

That said, this scene has generated a lot of discussion; people tend to either love or hate it. There have been several interesting suggestions about different ways to handle it if you don't like the AAW.

cheers,

Doug M.


I think that the afore-mentioned cutscene is definitely cool, but I also think that too much space was dedicated to something that happens entirely off-stage, and CERTAINLY too much detail. It's an adventure path, not a novel. Furthermore, I think fewer details leaves more room for the PCs to doubt the authenticity of the rumors they're sure to hear about it later (because Illeosa could certainly use some help when it comes to her transparency).


If you're interested, you can read a rather lengthy thread discussing the pros and cons of the "cut scenes". Some people like the idea, some people hate it.

P.S. For what it's worth, when I played the first couple of modules, I never got the idea that finding the brooch was supposed to make us "saviors". YMMV.


I see what you're saying, but if you look at the first few APs they're all over the board WRT pacing and word count. You can almost feel the Paizo writing and editorial staff figuring this out as they go along.

_Rise of the Runelords_ may not be the best benchmark here, because they pulled out all the stops with RotR -- it was the first AP, so they had to make it a complete knockout from start to finish, in order to establish the brand. There are a lot of people who think they still haven't done an AP better than RotR.

CotCT was a sophomore effort, and so presented a different set of challenges. It's like a great new band's second album, you know? They had to do something different from RotR, but not so different they'd turn people off... in some ways, harder than writing that killer first AP.

As to the particular cutscene,

spoiler:
based on reading the threads here I'd say about 2/3 of DMs put a player character at the scene. It sounds like you're thinking to go the other way -- put the PCs far away and have them get multiple and/or garbled reports of what happened. That's a really interesting idea, and I'd love to hear how it works out.

The only caveat I'd add is that the AP pretty much requires the PCs to have turned against the Queen by the end of Part 3, since otherwise they won't go looking for the weapon to defeat her -- the McGuffin for Parts 4 and 5.

Doug M.


hogarth wrote:

If you're interested, you can read a rather lengthy thread discussing the pros and cons of the "cut scenes". Some people like the idea, some people hate it.

P.S. For what it's worth, when I played the first couple of modules, I never got the idea that finding the brooch was supposed to make us "saviors". YMMV.

Maybe "saviors" is too strong a word, but I thought it was a bit hokey that the PCs find a piece of jewelry and now the queen constantly refers to them as "heroes" and starts offering them important jobs that would probably be better suited to a trusted guard or captain.


martinaj wrote:
Stuff

There were several things about it that didn't make much sense. Like the fact that everyone assumes that the PCs are good, just because they returned the brooch (reward not enough? lol).

Then, it's assumed they're suitable for being supercops in a time of chaos, where police actions will be at the officer's discretion, which usually has bad outcomes even with trained fulltime cops. It's also assumed that they're even competent enough to assume these responsibilities.

I'm getting around that by have Kroft checking their competency and making them swear a deputy oath (using a Zone of Truth device to detect any nonsense).

I also found the transition from "revenge seekers" to "supercop" was too forced as well. It makes no sense at all, after Lamm is dead, for everyone to stick around together, let alone play supercop together. Maybe they don't even want to play supercop. The transition could have been a lot better (and it is, for me, after I make major story adjustments). My players don't react well to illogical railroading like this.

The Blackjack part, because of PC choices (one of my PCs backgrounds is a protege of Blackjack!), they actually help. I've only read the first book though, hopefully this doesn't mess things up later.

I found the riots way too dramatic and over the top (griffons bleeding and crashing into the street in the first hour of the riot? puh-lease) and way too short. My riots will be over a week and less over-the-top drama will be involved. The random events in the riot will also be spaced out over the course of the week, and instead of being random events I'm going to scope them out more and make them missions from Kroft.

But so far so good, the first book of the AP has just taken a lot of adjustments so far but it has a good basis to work from. I'm not underwhelmed, I just don't know why everyone gives it 5 stars when it clearly needs a lot of work (maybe most players are railroaded with less objections than mine?).

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Finding the brooch was never meant to mark the PCs as the "saviors of the city." It's ONLY goal, really, apart from getting the PCs together and associated with each other, was to give us a reason why the PCs would meet Queen Ileosa at the start of the very first adventure. This was a DIRECT result of people (rightfully) complaining that we had a habit of "hiding" the main bad guy from the PCs. In Curse of the Crimson Throne, we wanted the PCs to not only know by the end of the first adventure who the bad guy was, but to have actually met that character.

As for cut scenes—they were an experiment with us setting up important scenes for the adventure where we wanted the PCs to take part in but that we didn't want to set up over the course of several pages of stat blocks and maps and stuff. Whether or not we succeeded, I think, depends on the person and the GM's comfort with that type of encounter. It's not something we really tried again, though.


martinaj wrote:
Maybe "saviors" is too strong a word, but I thought it was a bit hokey that the PCs find a piece of jewelry and now the queen constantly refers to them as "heroes" and starts offering them important jobs that would probably be better suited to a trusted guard or captain.

Actually, the queen simply says "We need honest people like you. If you're interested in working for the city, go talk to Cressida Kroft and see if she has any work for you". She doesn't offer them any jobs herself, nor does she even talk to them again.

If the PCs weren't "good guys", then they would likely have kept the brooch to themselves, so it's not particularly far-fetched that she'd consider them generally "heroic" or at least honest people.


I'm currently half way through running this particular AP, and have found that it requires a bit of GM ingenuity in order to make something like the cut scenes work. The format that the story takes place in came across to me as pretty compressed, and benefits if you give the characters extra time in order to let the situations develop. A downed marine probably wouldn't be likely in the first few hours, but maybe as something on the second day... sure.

The brooch presented a better reason for the group to stay together after the prelude that brought them together. Getting something that seemingly valuable that couldn't just be pawned off to the nearest fence meant that if they all were to get their sweet reward, they'd have to come up with something together. Works for some groups, may not for others.

As for the cut scenes, again... sometimes it works better to have your characters there for it. With the one at the end of Edge of Anarchy...

details within!:
...the characters of my group were pretty itching in order to rescue the woman on the chopping block, and Blackjack's rescue ended up tying in with their plans perfectly. I drew up additional chase cards for the getaway as Blackjack and the PCs assisted in the grand escape, while attempting to mask their identities from the authorities.

With the cut scene at the start of Escape from Old Korvosa, once again I had two members of the party there to witness it. The location of the event is one that most sensible players won't attempt to disrupt things in a nonsensical fashion. I found that handling the cut scenes are mainly in the delivery of the GM. I see no reason why the players can't be present for much of the cut scenes, if they have their own reasons to be there. From there, it's if you know your group well enough to tell if they're going to heavily involve themselves in the situation.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

I guess that you are pretty much forgetting the Zellara charatcer.

plot spoiler:
Her ghost says she feel that the group love the city of Korvosa and they still would have a chance to help the city in time of dire need if they stay together.


FWIW, there've been a couple of threads on "what was the best AP?"

There was this poll on ENWorld:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/pathfinder-rpg-discussion/299050-adventure-pat hs-best-ones.html

-- CotCT polled at #3, after Kingmaker and Rise of the Runelords.

On this thread:

http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/adventurePa th/generalDiscussion/wichAdventurePathItsYourFavoriteOne

-- its mean rating is between 2 and 3 out of 6, with a mathematical average of about 2.67 (although there were several posters rating it as #1, and only one guy rated it as #6).

Both threads seem to agree that Second Darkness takes last place, although even that AP is not without its defenders. I haven't read or played it, so can't comment.

Rise of the Runelords and Kingmaker seem to be the favorites, but I have the impression that the voting patterns are different. Specifically, it seems that almost everyone likes RotR and many people like it a lot, while Kingmaker shows a sharper bimodal split -- viz, a lot of people either like it or absolutely rave about it, but a significant minority of posters were either unenthusiastic or actively disliked it. FYI, YMMV.

Doug M.


This is one of their best APs, behind only Kingmaker for me. The plot holds together well throughout, although I'm not a huge fan of the fifth adventure, a dungeon crawl. It's the best city-intrigue I've seen in DnD since 1st edition. If you prefer "explore strange new lands", Kingmaker and Runelords are going to trump it.

As for your specific objections, it sounds like you're making a mountain out of a molehill. As noted above, you're over-reacting. First the queen is, at this point, a flighty, shallow woman interested in the finer things in life. There's a brief interaction scene in which she recommends that these heroes (or insert whatever courtly praise-word you want) should talk with one of her minions for future work. It's flattery and courtly language to be expected on a formal occasion from this kind of monarch.

As for the cut scenes? Do them or don't. The one you're particularly objecting to serves a crucial narrative role of redirecting the players away from solving the problem the way they always do: by the direct application of violence. And, really, the first cut scene is little different from the earliest versions of DnD, where not everything was laid on out a battle map and you described how you were attempting to alter the situation.

Trust me, you're over-reacting. This is an excellent AP, although you might have to add some more late-AP city adventures, if you know what I mean.


Actually, I've been looking through it again, and now I'm starting to feel like CotCT is more like akin to a new MMO that was released a couple months too early - something that runs alright, but is riddled with little glitches. I confess it's starting to grow on me, it just seems like it needs a lot of narrative fixes, but I suppose a marginally crafty GM should be able to patch those up without too much trouble.


roguerouge wrote:


The one you're particularly objecting to serves a crucial narrative role of redirecting the players away from solving the problem the way they always do: by the direct application of violence.

This.

James Jacobs was saying upthread that they hadn't done cutscenes lately. Reading that, I thought "well, darn, I wish they would again". This comment helps define why.

Some things should be beyond the PC's current abilities. Seeing the BBEG survive a deadly attack and then crush a powerful NPC without effort helps bring this home. It's not only a good and dramatic scene -- it's crucial to keeping the PCs on the path they should be walking.

Cutscenes are a useful tool. Like any tool, they can be misused. But they have their place.

Doug M.


roguerouge wrote:


This is an excellent AP, although you might have to add some more late-AP city adventures, if you know what I mean.

The writer of the last adventure did exactly that -- posted a couple of scenes that got cut from it. Good stuff that adds both crunch and flavor (IMO), apparently cut for length reasons.

Don't have the link at hand but I believe it's in the main CotCT reference thread.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
roguerouge wrote:
Trust me, you're over-reacting. This is an excellent AP, although you might have to add some more late-AP city adventures, if you know what I mean.

Whoa...there are you saying people should like this....no matter what they think?

I have just started this AP as a player...and it is fun. We even reached the scene where we return the bracelet...and it did not seem...so bad as the OP said. But I am always nervouse of the 'cutscenes' as 99% I have seen them misused and done badly. And I don't like the a scene which turns the player into a specator. Sorry I will just go play a video game....but since I don't know how it plays out I'll just wait to see what happens.

But people are entitled to their opinion....calling them overreacting does not help anything.


martinaj wrote:
Actually, I've been looking through it again, and now I'm starting to feel like CotCT is more like akin to a new MMO that was released a couple months too early - something that runs alright, but is riddled with little glitches. I confess it's starting to grow on me, it just seems like it needs a lot of narrative fixes, but I suppose a marginally crafty GM should be able to patch those up without too much trouble.

I am glad it's growing on you because it really is a wonderful campaign. I will begin running it in June and have been excited about it for 6 months lol.


Well folks are entitled to draw their own conclusions but thought I'd chime in. I ran this AP last year for a group of six players. To my mind, this was perhaps the most enjoyable campaign I've ran. The city is greatly detailed with lots of characters and if you have a group that agrees that each of their characters has a defined stake in protecting the city (I suggested this upfront) it quickly grows and develops of its own accord.

That said like any module I made some changes to fit the group or simply took my cues from the players interests (like taking a small time informer the group really hated and elevating him to a larger role).

There really is only one cut away scene if I recall and that's the failed assassination attempt. I believe I had the party hear about the incident from Cressida so it didn't even feel forced just something that happened when they were elsewhere. Also I had foreshadowed that Marcus might do something foolish as I had portrayed him as a bit of a cocky swaggering swashbuckler type.

As for the execution scene... Funny story that, my group brought in Trinia though from the outset they had doubts about her involvement. Brought her into the cells at the Citadel, went to Cressida for their reward where they encountered a represenative of the Queen (the informer that they all hated) and then quickly changed their minds and broke Trinia out of prison before she could be transferred. Kind of funny that.

Anyways the party did subtly intervene for the sham execution helping Blackjack with some distracting spells and the like and causing panic in the crowd, that sort of thing.

So yes I think like any AP you'll make adjustments but the setting, storyline and characters all provide a great campaign.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm DMing Curse now and we are half way through part 4. All in all it's a great AP, but I see the point the OP is making. Here is my take on some of the issues:

Spoilers beware.
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Return the brooch:

This is simply a way to have the PCs actually be in presence of the queen. Remember, the PCs are way below notice of the queen at this point and in fact have very little reason to even be brought before her. Returning (or just being in possession of) her personal item is a great way to have these commoners in the presence of royalty.

For my group, once the queens situation was revealed, the players were giddy that they had actually been standing in front of her at an extremely low level. I think it was a nice touch to bring the BBEG into the PCs world so early in their careers.

The rescue of Trinia cut scene:

Ok, this was a bit flat for me, and it introduced what I think is the weakest part of the AP: Blackjack. My players could not stop making Batman jokes whenever Blackjack was mentioned. I quickly "outed" Vencarlo as Blackjack just so we could stop saying "Blackjack" and instead call him Vencarlo. Definitely too much fictional liberty taken by the author(s) with Blackjack, I think he should have ended up on the editing room floor.

The assassination cut scene:

Now this worked really well for me but I did make a significant change. I made the PCs present for the whole thing and brought it "on stage". I used Marcus to foreshadow this event very early on by continually making him grouse about not being formally put into the senechal position. In fact, my players suspected Marcus of foul play right up until his demise! As far as the players (and their characters) knew the whole ceremony was for the queen to finally recognize him as senechal. I played Cressidia up as being relieved that the city was finally turning a corner and that some semblance of order was being restored. A simple wall of force was up just as a precaution against any knee jerk reactions from the PCs but it turned out this wasn't even necessary because when the event blew up my players never even reached for a die as they were so shocked. Before they knew it Marcus was dead and the queen was gone.

So my advice for this cut scene is to have the PCs present but play it up as an end cap on all the troubles Korvosa has had up until that point. Have the players begin to think that Marcus will be taking his place as senechal, Cressida will have an ally she trusts in an important position in Marcus, and the PCs will be able to lean on these two highly placed contacts to continue their investigation of the queen. Then, in one swift moment, it all comes crashing down and things are worse.

Taldor

This is actually my favorite AP, although I love Kingmaker to death. Runelords wasn't a big hit with the players in my area, but part of that had to do with the feeling that each chapter wasn't part of an overarching story(an old complaint that dates all the way back to Dungeon).

I think the flaw of Crimson Throne is that it spends so much time away from the city in the latter parts of the AP. I also think it makes a huge difference whether a Gm has read the Guide to Kovosa or not. Things like the villains of Old Korvosa feel a lot more significant when time is taken to build on the details given in the guide.

Its always been one of my greatest regrets that I barely started chapter 2 when my group took a long hiatus. I've wanted desperately to finish this campaign for a long time.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We're in book 5 with my group right now and with the exception of book 3 (Old Korvosa) this AP has been stellar from top to bottom. Any GM is going to find little things to tweak here and there. I've added a number of little encounters and beefed up some of the encounters in the book to my taste, but the NPC's the story the original encounters... all win my approval.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
martinaj wrote:

Did anyone else thing this line of reasoning was a little faulty? I've been VERY impressed with Paizo's APs thus far, and I went ahead and downloaded Curse of the Crimson Throne. I found it, well, disappointing. Rise of the Runelords took a lot of classic ideas and put a new spin on them, but it seems like Crimson Throne just takes a bunch of old cliches and puts them on a different canvas - they're new on the surface, but in the end, it feels like the characters and plots are just filled with trite or half-baked ideas. NPC motivations are iffy and they employ some pretty questionable logic.

The other thing I found a little superfluous were the "cutscenes," those instances that seem to fill the AP in which something cool is occurring and the players are ultimately powerless to interact with it in any way, such as...

** spoiler omitted **

Sorry, I know I probably sound a little whiny, I just wanted to know if anyone else was underwhelmed by this AP?

Yeah, I think youre nitpicking this just a litle bit.

Going back and reading what Queen Illiosa actually says to the PC's and the circumstances that have been going on in Korvosa puts things in certain framework.

Her husband the King has just died (maybe murdered) the general populace for the most part doenst view her very favorably and the city is starting to tear itself apart.

She sees the PC's return of her broach (when they totally didnt have to return it) and a sign of honor and / or goodness in them. She rewards them for returning the brooch nut asked them to help her a little more.

Now there are other things to consider:

Spoiler:
That she is in fact the one responsible for her husbands murder and she actually isnt trying to do right by Korvosa. She's essentially, right now playing the role that's expected of her. Which is the grieving widow and using the sympathy garnered from that to make it seem like she wants to fix the city but using these adventureres to help where the Korvosan Guard cant.

What she says to the PC's is pretty much self explanatory.

Quoted from Edge of Anarchy pg 26:
“This brooch was stolen from me some time ago—I
had not expected to see it again, truth be told. And
yet, here on my darkest day, you come before me with
kindness. The return of this brooch is much more
than an honorable deed. It is inspiration. It is hope."

“I love Korvosa, as my husband did before me. His
death has shocked the city as it has me, but I will not see
his legacy destroyed in death, and I shall not see my city
torn apart. All Korvosa stands at the precipice of a disaster
wrought by her citizens—these riots cannot continue. You
have already done my heart a great service in returning
this bauble to me on this dark day, and you shall be
rewarded. Yet, perhaps you can serve your city more."

“If you so choose, I shall have Sabina see to it that you have
an escort of guards when you leave here—they can see to your
safe journey to Citadel Volshyenek. I shall send word ahead of
you to Field Marshal Cressida Kroft to let her know you are
on the way—the Korvosan Guard is stretched thin, and it can
certainly use the aid of heroes such as yourself. Now, I need
to retire to my personal quarters—my grief has drained me.
Again, I thank you for the kindness you have shown me, and I
hope your days of serving the crown are only just beginning.”

In a nutshell despite the fact that the city is on the verge of tearing itself apart behind the loss of thier King (my husband), you found the time to come hear and return this piece of jewlery to me. That means alot. You seem like you have good character. Maybe you can help me...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm actually running this AP, I'm in the middle of Seven Days to the Grave and I my players are having a blast.

The one thing that I dont get with gamers these days is that I get the sense that people feel that they shouldnt customize or actually change things in a published mod, which to me is just seven different types of crazy...

Listen, I dont think that the cutscenes are indulgant. Especially the assassination attempt one. It gives me all of the information I need to relate the event to the PC's at some point. Maybe Cressida Croft will relate the entire thing to them in one sitting. Maybe they'll hear different parts and different details from different points of view from the various PC's that they know who were in attendance. The point being the cutscenes give me the detail that I now dont have to make up off the top of my head to pass on to the PC's.

The bottom line is that after theyre told the tale by one (or several) persons that they trust? Theyre going to be like "so and so survived a crossbow bolt to the head and point blank range? WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!?! Something is definitely up with so and so."

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This ap is my group's favorite by far. Books 4 and 5 excluded. I played it, if I ever ran it I would heavily modify book 4 and cut 5 entirely. Seven days to the grave is probably my favorite adventure put out by paizo so far. Anything wes does is gold though =p

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