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Pathfinder Society Campaign using Year of the Shadow Lodge Modules [Spoilers!]


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

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I am planning to do a full Pathfinder Society campaign for my home group after my Rise of the Runelords campaign is finished this winter. Projected start date is sometime in February, so there is time to refine this thought and implement changes. Thus, I turn to all of you in an effort to get the most out of this.

The plan is to run a complete story arc, focusing on the Year of the Shadow Lodge. Obviously, there is one module I cannot do (the Year of the Shadow Lodge Special), as that requires more tables than the one I will have. Also, I cannot run the City of Strangers pair of modules, as one of the players (my wife) has already played those modules in her PFS career, and I want all five players to be able to run through these together. So, those three modules are deliberately left off the list.

Considerations for this campaign arc:

• I want to play as many Shadow Lodge story lines as I can, in an order that makes as much possible sense. I will tweak the fluff of any module a little to make it fit, if necessary.
• Because saving Grandmaster Torch is the culmination of the story, I want to introduce him to the group and make sure he is a character they are aware of (using the only two modules I know for sure he’s in – Many Fortunes of Grandmaster Torch and Delirium’s Tangle).
• I’m trying to take the characters around the world in a way that makes sense. I.E., running regional modules near each other, time-wise. Thus, things like Darkest Vengeance and Midnight Mauler will be run consecutively.
• I’m trying to place things in the story as near to sensibly as I can. The Dalsine Affair will be the last module played before leaving 7th level for a reason: Baron Jaquo’s death. Likewise, Shadows Fall on Absalom is one of the first 7th level modules played for a reason: the penalty the characters can receive vs. the Shadow Lodge for the remainder of the story if the BBEG escapes.

Things I know I will be doing:

• Rewriting faction missions to include the signatures of all the new factions.
• …except the Shadow Lodge faction. I’m going to do my best to keep my players from picking this faction. If someone insists on it, I’m unsure what I will do, yet. Ideas are welcome, as I like being proactive.
• Rewriting any Taldor missions to have the new signature on them after The Dalsine Affair.
• Introducing a heavy dose of role playing by getting the players to really know the various personalities in the Pathfinder Society.
• Trying to "pace" the Shadow Lodge story. I don’t want too many in a row. Likewise, I don’t want too much time between tie-ins.
• Interspersing a lot of *not* Shadow Lodge stories, which is fine. I’m planning a slew of my personal favorites. Other suggestions are welcome as there are a couple that I’m less than thrilled by, in terms of their fit to this idea (looking right at you, Fury of the Fiend)
• Placing some modules where they are because the "power level" of the bad guys goes up. Shades of Ice Part 3 is where it is because then it gets played at Tier 4-5, which ramps up the threat level nicely to cap off the story arc. Likewise with Heresy Pt 3.

Things I’m curious about:

• I have not played some of the modules (marked with an "x" in the list). I intend to play them before running them, so please don’t spoil them too much for me. But I’m still curious if they "fit" where I put them.
• Is there anything I’m missing? Did Torch appear in any other mods besides the two I listed?
• Am I keeping the challenges varied? For instance, I chose to not run Below the Silver Tarn because one of the creatures is the same as one of the challenges in Forbidden Furnace. Repeating creatures is dull, unless it’s demons :-D. Did I inadvertently do it elsewhere?

Here is the list. Shadow Lodge tie-ins, direct or not, are marked with an "s." Modules I have not played are marked with an "x" and are the ones I'm most interested in getting feedback on, assuming you can do so without completely spoiling them for me:

The Campaign:

Level 1
Intro to Pathfinder Society #1
Intro to Pathfinder Society #2
Intro to Pathfinder Society #3
Level 2
#5 Mists of Mwangi
#2-15 Shades of Ice Part 1 (s)
#2-17 Shades of Ice Part 2 (s)
Level 3
#2-19 Shades of Ice Part 3 (s) (x)
#2-13 Murder on the Throaty Mermaid (x)
#14 The Many Fortunes of Grandmaster Torch
Level 4
#39 Citadel of Flame
#2-23 Shadow’s Last Stand Pt 1 – At Shadow’s Door (s) (x)
#47 The Darkest Vengeance
Level 5
#2-EX The Midnight Mauler
#2-24 Shadow’s Last Stand Pt 2 – Web of Corruption (s) (x)
#45 Delirium’s Tangle
Level 6
#27 Our Lady of Silver
#2-06 Heresy of Man Part 1 (s)
#2-07 Heresy of Man Part 2 (s)
Level 7
#2-08 Heresy of Man Part 3 (s)
#2-04 Shadows Fall on Absalom (s)
#2-21 The Dalsine Affair (s) (x)
Level 8
#36 Echoes of the Everwar Part 1 (x)
#42 Echoes of the Everwar Part 2 (x)
#2-03 The Rebel’s Ransom
Level 9
#2-20 Wrath of the Accursed (s)
#44 Echoes of the Everwar Part 3 (s) (x)
#45 Echoes of the Everwar Part 4 (s) (x)
Level 10
#2-18 The Forbidden Furnace of Forgotten Koor
#40 Hall of Drunken Heroes
#2-10 Fury of the Fiend
Level 11
#2-14 The Chasm of Screams
#2-08 The Sarkorian Prophecy (s) (x)
#2-26 The Mantis’s Prey (s)
Level 12
#46 Eyes of the Ten Part 1 (s) (x)
#54 Eyes of the Ten Part 2 (s) (x)
#2-05 Eyes of the Ten Part 3 (s) (x)
#2-22 Eyes of the Ten Part 4 (s) (x)

Let me know what you think. And thanks in advance for the help.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

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I actually have a Colaborator working on a timeline, story kind of fiction that should aid you greatly in this. It won't be ready for another month or two but it is on the agenda.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Michael Brock wrote:
I actually have a Colaborator working on a timeline, story kind of fiction that should aid you greatly in this. It won't be ready for another month or two but it is on the agenda.

It's a good thing I'm a few months out from running this, then (:

That sounds awesome, by the way. I'm thrilled to hear that's on the docket, and am looking forward to it.

Silver Crusade ****

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Drogon wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
I actually have a Colaborator working on a timeline, story kind of fiction that should aid you greatly in this. It won't be ready for another month or two but it is on the agenda.

It's a good thing I'm a few months out from running this, then (:

That sounds awesome, by the way. I'm thrilled to hear that's on the docket, and am looking forward to it.

You have a great setup but you are missing a very important module featuring Grandmaster Torch---SILENT TIDE!! The very first PFS module, Grandmaster Torch is in it! You gotta have him at his very beginnings.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

Something to consider about the Shadow Lodge metaplot is that it wasn't designed to be played with the same PC from start to finish. Events the initiate the conflict and some that wrap it up took place at the start and finish of the season, respectively, but are not adventures for low- then high-level characters. That's what makes it a metaplot instead of a traditional plot as one would find in a standard adventure path.

Spoiler:
For example, if the PCs play Shadow's Last Stand before just about any other scenario, they will find the leader of the rebel Shadow Lodge agents defeated and her network crumble, making it seem odd to face agents allied with her at higher levels as if she were still around. It also ruins the Amenopheus-as-a-double-agent thing.

And PCs who are introduced to Grandmaster Torch in the intros as the head of the Shadow Lodge miss out on the big reveal at the end of The Mantis's Prey.

So I think there's some potential to make a campaign out of this, but it might require a lot of suspension of disbelief on the part of the players, or finagling on the part of the GM. After all, the best way to experience an organized play metaplot is to have PCs of different levels play them as they're released over the course of the year.

*****

Drogon--I'm doing something similar, but slightly different. I've been slowly working the Shadow Lodge via side mentions and whispers through a lot of early scenarios (my PCs particularly trust Venture Captain Petulengro, and hope the diviner will keep them posted as to the Shadow Lodge's activity) and then I plan to have it "explode" into a major Shadow Lodge arc. One PC is suspected to possibly be working with the Shadow Lodge already (before that was a viable faction) but is actually just an Andoran agent masquerading as Cheliax faction. I haven't done Heresy of Man yet, so whenever Otoneraphim delivered an Osirian mission, I said it was part of a power struggle in the Osirion faction (the Osiriani PC said she would be loyal to the Sapphire Sage no matter what, so we'll see what she thinks come Heresy of Man). A PC paid Grandmaster Torch a good sum to find out more about this to hear only the cryptic message that "The Sapphire Sage and PC X have more than one thing in common" (PC X being the double agent who is suspected of being in the Shadow Lodge). Since you are going to be doctoring the signatures, if you don't want to add in an explanation for Otoneraphim, make sure he doesn't show up except between Heresy and Shadow's Last Stand.

I notice that you have Heresy of Man after Shadow's Last Stand, which is a bit of a shame and logically weird (since it lets you know the Sapphire Sage is a double agent before he is even thought to be a traitor).

Here's my dream ordering (which I'm not going to be following exactly due to one PC having played Shades of Ice and due to First Steps not being out yet when I started). It should be logically consistent and in good ordering based on the metaplot's ordering:

Levels 1-5: First Steps I, II, and III (leaving out mention of the Shadow Lodge as a playable faction). Then City of Strangers I and II. Then Shades of Ice I, II, and III. Add in 4 other scenarios to reach level 5, interspersed throughout these three series.

Levels 5-7: Heresy of Man from 5 to 6, then Dalsine Affair. Then Shadow's Last Stand I and II to hit 7.

Levels 7+: The Mantis's Prey and whatever else.

Silver Crusade ***

I have studied the Year of the Shadow Lodge arc a bit. It would seem to me that a lot of the scenarios took place in the order they came out. Though only loosely in a lot of cases as many are interchangeable order wise without diluting the metaplot. Especially with a lot of the middle parts. Unfortunately, as Mark already said, the scenarios were not designed to be played by the same PC all the way through. It would be very clunky without the GM doing some potentially signifiant handwaves, revisions, or changes. If you try and play them all strait through based on tier then a lot of events in the metaplot get convoluted. For instance…

Spoiler:
Shadow’s Last Stand, along with Mantis’ Prey, finishes up the Year of the Shadow War with the PCs dealing with the rogue Shadow Lodge’s leadership. If you knock that leadership off by level 7, then you pretty much have to go with the explanation that your PCs are playing wackamole with a bunch of independent Shadow Lodge cells still lashing out at the Pathfinder Society either out of spite or because they do not know about the events of Shadow’s Last Stand yet. Also playing Shadow’s Last Stand before Heresy of Man will really screw up some events in Heresy of Man due to some of the things that happened in Shadow’s Last Stand.

One idea I would like to recommend is for you to have two party’s of PCs playing concurrently with one another. One in the 1-7 range, and another in the 7-11. Ideally you would also have a level 12 group to also fit into the Shadow War timeline. But I’m under the impression that you are playing this group for credit, and not really a homebrew type of deal where you can finagle around with things. So you would have to wait for them all to retire before playing those scenarios.

So here is my recommendation on which scenarios to play in which order without taking things like scenario tiers into account or other scenarios you might want to fit in. Unfortunately for Drogon, City of Strangers does not seem like an option. Though I would highly recommend trying to fit these two scenarios in if possible. Warning: this can be potentially spoilerish.

Spoiler:
City of Strangers I & II
Eyes of the Ten I
Year of the Shadow Lodge
-These scenarios introduce the Shadow Lodge, and their initial plots. At the start of this the Shadow Lodge has not been acknowledged by the Society at large, and has been dismissed as a rumor by the Decemvirate. But by the end of Year of the Shadow Lodge the cat is pretty much out of the bag.

Eyes of Ten II
Shadow’s Fall on Absalom
Heresy of Man I-III
-Rogue Shadow Lodge agents start to turn up left and right in this series of scenarios. Possibly leaving the PCs in doubt about who they can and cannot trust as the Shadow War starts up.

Shades of Ice I-III
Sarkorian Prophecy
-The PCs deal with the many rogue Shadow Lodge plots going on throughout the northern Avistan. A hotbed of Shadow Lodge activity.

Wrath of the Accursed
The Dalsine Affair
-The PCs bounce back to the Inner Sea to deal with Shadow Lodge plots in this region.

Eyes of Ten III
Mantis’ Prey
Shadow’s Last Stand I & II
Eyes of Ten IV
-The conclusion of the Year of the Shadow Lodge arc. Ties up all the loose ends, and brings a nice conclusion to the metaplot arc.

This can be less than ideal for a lot of people. For starters it would require three different party’s. One in the 1-7 range, another at 7-11, and a retirement party at 12. Which can be difficult to arrange if you are playing for credit. You can do just fine without the 12 party in my opinion, though the GM running that will have to handwave a few things. But that would far from ruin the retirement arc and the events that happen in it.

Here is my suggestion on how you could handle Grandmaster Torch for First Steps.

Spoiler:
You can still have him in charge of the Shadow Lodge. You just have him present it as being loyal to the Society and wanting what is best of the individual Pathfinder agents. Going with the general fluff you find in the Field Guide.

You can present the Shadow Lodge agents the PCs have to deal with in Season 1 & 2 as rogue and rebel agents as well as outsiders trying to corrupt Torch’s vision and mission for the Shadow Lodge. They seem, at least initially, intent on changing the vision of the Society, and bringing that change about through force, and are blatantly trying to launch of a coup against the Society. Naturally Torch is not wild about this separatist faction of Shadow Lodge agents destroying everything he had built over the years, and wants to try and repair the situation. Depending on the phase of the conflict, this will either be to try and diplomacize with the rogue agents, have them killed or captured, collect information on the rogue Shadow Lodge and its leaders, and try and keep Shadow agents still loyal to him and the Society safe during this time of turmoil and suspicion in the Society.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Lady Ophelia wrote:
You have a great setup but you are missing a very important module featuring Grandmaster Torch---SILENT TIDE!! The very first PFS module, Grandmaster Torch is in it! You gotta have him at his very beginnings.

Gah! The chests! You're absolutely right, milady. How could I forget about that sequence? Mostly because it was August of 2009, and my very first PFS adventure. Thanks for the reminder. (-:

Mists of Mwangi, much as I love your monkey goodness, you're fired...

Mark Moreland, Rogue Eidolon, and Nicholas Gray wrote:
Good points about Shadow's Last Stand vs. the rest of the story.

I was worried about that with these two modules. I hadn't played them, yet, and was surmising they were very important based on the sales blurbs for them (I'm the coordinator for my store, so can't avoid some spoilers).

The easy solution with these two is to punt them down the road. It's not like there aren't other options. However, as I said in my opener, I'm willing to rework the fluff in order to keep continuity intact. Sometimes this is just a matter of moving around names.

My thought was to have a defined hierarchy within the Shadow Lodge that I keep track of - a "hit list," if you will. As Nicholas pointed out with his excellent story track, there are a bunch of rogue cells that need to be dealt with early, then a traitor is revealed, then you get into the heavy hitters and the resolutions to the story. I think these can be flipped around pretty effectively just by moving names around and emphasizing the principle figures in each module differently. The exception is the traitor; he has to stay where he his.

To resolve The Spider, I was thinking about flipping two characters: the one who appears in Shadows Fall on Absalom and the one who is central to Shadow's Last Stand. If those two principles change places in the Shadow Lodge hierarchy, then I have a bit more sense in the continuity. I don't think it would be hard to write some of each of their back story into prior modules, introducing their threads a little before having to be dealt with. I can even continue the role of The Spider by giving it (her?) a role in Mantis's Prey before having it all resolved by that adventure.

So, considering the "hit list" idea, if you would be willing to think about this aspect, who would you place where?

Nicholas Gray wrote:
I’m under the impression that you are playing this group for credit

This is exactly the case. My home group likes to explore different theories in role playing games, and they've never experienced something like an Open Play system, before. I wanted to show them what it's like. Doing so, I think, requires being authentic to the system, and following all the rules (fluff rewrites notwithstanding).

Which, sadly, is why there is no City of Strangers or Year of the Shadow Lodge, as integral as those modules are to this arc. I would love to run them immediately after the First Steps series, but my hands are tied.

Nicholas Gray wrote:
Here is my suggestion on how you could handle Grandmaster Torch for First Steps.

I really want to keep him on the fringe, the way he was to all of us who played a couple years before the big reveal. It was more fun to find out his place, that way. I'm either going to de-emphasize his role in the Pathfinder Society (taking it back to a fringe "concerned citizen" role) or get rid of it entirely and just use the future modules to introduce him. He will play a central role as an information broker throughout the PCs' career, and his introduction in First Steps is more important to Season 3 (which we're not touching).

Unrelated to all the above discussion:
If I'm a little disjointed with these thoughts, I apologize. I'm in the midst of an opening shift at my coffee shop, so keep getting distracted. If I missed something, I'll come back to it after the weekend (I have a Magic tournament tomorrow - which derailed one of my planned opportunities to get in those modules I've missed...makes me sad).

Also, thanks again for all the help.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Mark Moreland wrote:

Something to consider about the Shadow Lodge metaplot is that it wasn't designed to be played with the same PC from start to finish. Events the initiate the conflict and some that wrap it up took place at the start and finish of the season, respectively, but are not adventures for low- then high-level characters. That's what makes it a metaplot instead of a traditional plot as one would find in a standard adventure path.

** spoiler omitted **

So I think there's some potential to make a campaign out of this, but it might require a lot of suspension of disbelief on the part of the players, or finagling on the part of the GM. After all, the best way to experience an organized play metaplot is to have PCs of different levels play them as they're released over the course of the year.

I wanted to reply to this directly, in the hopes that other people see this thread and run with it.

I do agree that the best way to experience a big story via an open play system is to play through them all with multiple characters. Failing that, you experience it via stories from other players, which may even be a better way to experience the metaplot, as you're seeing the story through the eyes of a larger group: The Pathfinder Society.

So, I agree with your points.

However, as I mentioned in the last post, my home group enjoys exploring game theory in role playing games. I've been playing with them for 25 years, now, and challenging them is a chore. I, specifically, enjoy approaching a story and trying to break it down in such a way that it can be presented in total to a player so that he actually gets it. This is one of the things I love doing in PFS, and is one of the things I am most saddened by at the same time. I try really hard to give the story to the players. Often, I witness tables just bashing their way through a module and getting nothing but loot out of it.

Obviously, with my home group, I can really delve into this aspect that I love so much. That's the true purpose of this exercise, regardless of the fact that we will be applying all the PFS rules to it.

Suffice to say that the "finagling on the part of the GM" is part of what makes RPGs fun. If you're not willing to get your hands dirty, then you're missing out on some of the experience. I'm branching out a little by coming to you guys to exercise this aspect. So, please, keep the comments coming. I'm enjoying this.

*** Venture-Lieutenant, Canada—Ontario aka Feegle

I'd like to dredge this thread up. Drogon, I've no idea if you have started this project with your home group or not, but I'm looking for something similar. I have a group of noob role-players who have expressed an interest in gathering together to play something, and they seem to be quite taken with the episodic nature of PFS modules, so I'm trying to see about stringing these together in a way that makes sense, and I like the idea of trying to do an overarching metaplot in this manner. So... any changes? If you've started, is it working?

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Vermont—Brattleboro aka ElyasRavenwood

Hello Drogon,
I am planning to do a similar thing. I am thinking of running my weekly PFS group at my local gaming store through the Shadow War Arc.
This is what we have done so far.

Spoiler:

LVL
1 6 Black Waters
1 2 Hydra's Fang Incident
1 5 Mists of Mwangi (1-2) (4-5)
2 39 Citadel of Flame (1-2) (4-5)
2 1 Silent Tide (1-2) (4-5)
2 Module 2 The Godsmouth Heresy (1-2) (4-5)
3 Module 2 The Godsmouth Heresy (1-2) (4-5)
3 Module 2 The Godsmouth Heresy (1-2)
3 35 Voice in the Void (1-2)
4 51 The City of Shadows Part I - Shadow Gambit (1-2)
4 52 The City of Shadows Part II - Twofold Demise (1-2) (3-4) (6-7)
4 67 #2-11: The Penumbra Accords (1-2) (3-4) (6-7)
5 71 #2-15: Shades of Ice—Part I: Written in Blood (1-2) (3-4) (6-7)
5 73 #2-17: Shades of Ice—Part II: Exiles of Winter (1-2) (4-5)
5 75 #2-19: Shades of Ice Part III: Keep of the Huskarl King (1-2) (4-5)

While i understand the "meta plot" wasn't designed to be played by one character from start to finish, well that just wants me to start pulling the lego pieces apart, make a mess on the floor and then put it all back together again.

We are taking a break for the holidays, but when we get started again in January, I admit, Im not quite sure what to do...but here is a tentative lineup.

Spoiler:

6 62 #2-06 The Heresy of Man Part I: The First Heresy (5-6) (8-9)
6 63 #2-07 Heresy Man Part II: Where Dark Things Sleep (5-6) (8-9)
6 65 #2-09 Heresy Man Part III: Beneath Forgotten Sands (5-6) (8-9)
7 22 Fingerprints of the Fiend (7-8) (10-11)
7 66 #2-10 Fury of the Fiend (7-8) (10-11)
7 77 #2-21: The Dalsine Affair (1-2) (3-4) (6-7)
8 74 #2-18: The Forbidden Furnace of Forgotten Koor (5-6) (8-9)
8 36 Echoes of the Everwar Part I - The Prisoner of Skull Hill (5-6) (8-9)
8 42 Echoes of the Everwar Part II - The Watcher of Ages (7-8) (10-11)
9 44 Echoes of the Everwar Part III - Terror at Whistledown (7-8) (10-11)
9 53 Echos of the Everwar Part IV - The Faithless Dead (7-8) (10-11)
9 60 #2-04 Shadows Fall on Absalom (7-8) (10-11)
10
10 64 #2-08The Sarkorian Prophecy (7-8) (10-11)
10
11 76 #2-20: Wrath of the Accursed (7-8) (10-11)
11
11 Mantis Prey (7-8) (10-11)

46 Eyes of the Ten Part I - Requiem for the Red Raven -12
54 Eyes of the Ten Part II - Maze of the Open Road -12
61 #2-05 Eyes of the Ten Part III: Red Revolution -12
78 #2-22: Eyes of the Ten Part IV: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained -12


and if we get through the "eyes of the Ten" then we will retire the characters officially and then run "unofficially"
Spoiler:

Special 1 Year of the Shadow Lodge
2-23: Shadow’s Last Stand Part 1 : at Shadow’s Door
2-24: Shadow’s Last Stand Part 2: Web of Corruption

Im sure the lineup can use some tweaking. Drogon good luck with your campaign

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Eek. I had people ask me questions and ignored them. Sorry about that, Jeff and Myles.

I am starting this campaign this weekend. I have been putting the finishing touches on it during the last couple weeks, and plan on posting a full rewrite. I will do so as soon as I have the time to put that kind of thing together in a way that makes sense (right now it's notes and theories on scratch paper and thoughts swirling around in my head).

Hopefully I am not too late with this reply, guys. I really apologize for that...

*** Venture-Lieutenant, Canada—Ontario aka Feegle

Not a problem at all. I haven't had a whole lot of free time to even think about running the home game, so I'm patient as all get-out. :)

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

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My Year of the Shadow Lodge campaign arc officially kicked off this past weekend. I’m going to post a few notes to add to some of what I was thinking in the posts above. As well, I’m going to do an updated scenario list with a few thoughts on how the new choices fit in to the story, overall.

A new set of thoughts occurred to me over the last couple months:

In any home campaign, people inevitably have scheduling conflicts. In most games this is handled by either rescheduling so that the missing player can join in at a later date, or by having that person’s PC run by another player (or the GM). The first option always sucks; you can’t play as often as you want. As well, in our adult lives with children, jobs, family, etc., this rescheduling often becomes a month long (or longer) delay. I want to avoid that. The second option cannot be done in PFS play, for obvious reasons.

So, I came up with the idea that everyone would have secondary characters. If one of my five players is missing, the remaining four take out their “backups” and we play a different scenario, not a part of the main thread. This keeps the game on a regular schedule, and allows for something that Mark mentioned: experiencing the campaign from multiple angles, via the stories that “other agents” tell.

Even better: this allows for me to put the City of Strangers series back into the rotation. My wife will be out of town toward the end of April. The remaining four players will be put through City of Strangers, Part 1. After she returns, we can have a session with all five backup characters going through Part 2 (she hasn’t played that one yet), and everyone will have experienced the lead-in to the Season 2 Shadow Lodge scenarios.

But wait! There's more! Every now and then I can even invite in a "guest GM" and I can sit and play with my group, using a character of my own. I worked up a Jekyll/Hyde alchemist concept just for this occasion.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited by this little innovation. Happier still, I now get to break out some of my favorite scenarios that ended up on the cutting room floor. Mists of Mwangi's monkey goodness is back!

Now, I’m still curious about a few things, and would welcome anyone’s thoughts regarding them.

Questions:

• I’m going to push the idea that Grandmaster Torch is *the* information broker in Absalom. As the players get to know him early in their careers, I am going to make it clear that returning to him when stumped is not a bad idea. For instance, it is easy to get stumped in Shadows Fall on Absalom, as you try to figure out your next move in finding Dreng’s would-be assassin. If I set this up properly, Torch may be one of the first places they go to get some information. (Which, of course, is perfect, if you think about it). My question: Is this bad? Am I breaking the spirit of PFS if I allow this to happen, rather than make them use the token “Gather Information” or perception roll?
• Have I kept the challenges varied? I actually ended up cutting Forbidden Furnace of Forgotten Koor from the list because it was yet another fire!hot!hot! module, which might be tedious after Citadel of Flame, Heresy of Man 3, and The Rebel’s Ransom. Anything else that strikes anyone as repetitive?
• I still have not played two of the planned modules: the Shadow’s Last Stand series. I have been thwarted on multiple occasions, and now have them on my schedule for the 21st of April. Assuming all goes as planned, I will know the answer to this question, then, but if you can answer it without spoiling the series for me, I get extra time to consider their placement. Am I going to be able to rework the fluff to fit these in? Should I drop them and add them to the list of “alternate” modules for players to experience through their backup characters? If I do that, am I making them dull? They will certainly be played at a very low tier – the backup characters will not end up higher than 3rd level, overall.

Finally, I have a new consideration, having played Eyes of the Ten. This next bit is spoilered for a reason (as everything is, of course, though in this post it is usually to avoid “wall o’ text” situations). But, in this spoiler’s case: seriously, if you haven’t played the Eyes of the Ten series, don’t read this spoiler; it’ll ruin the series for you.

WARNING - Massive Eyes of the Ten spoiling inside:
I’m dense, and never realized how Adril Hestram was missing from all of Season 2. Hindsight, of course, is 20-20, and I now realize how huge this was. Additionally, it really mattered to all of us that he sent us on so many Season 0 and 1 missions. I even got up and gave a huge speech to forward his cause toward being a member of The Ten. Oops.

At any rate, I need to duplicate that experience for my players. I have two choices:
1. Replace Adril in Eyes of the Ten with someone else. I don’t really like this, as no other Venture Captain known to me really fits the flavor of his build (man, did he hit like a truck).
2. Replace various Venture Captains throughout the arc with Adril. I like this better, of course. But, again, am I breaking a rule I don’t know about?

Please, if you discuss this particular point with me, use a spoiler tag with plenty of warnings.

Without further ado, here is the campaign list (Shadow Lodge tie-ins, direct or not, are marked with an S. Torch’s possible appearances are marked, as well. Both tie-ins include “fluff” rewrites, which will be discussed):

The Campaign List:

Level 1
Intro to Pathfinder Society #1
Intro to Pathfinder Society #2
Intro to Pathfinder Society #3 (Torch)
Level 2
#1 Silent Tide (Torch)
#2-15 Shades of Ice Part 1 (s)
#2-17 Shades of Ice Part 2 (s)
Level 3
#2-19 Shades of Ice Part 3 (s)
#2-13 Murder on the Throaty Mermaid
#14 The Many Fortunes of Grandmaster Torch (Torch)
Level 4
#39 Citadel of Flame
#2-23 Shadow’s Last Stand Pt 1 – At Shadow’s Door (s) (x)
#47 The Darkest Vengeance
Level 5
#3-16 The Midnight Mauler
#2-24 Shadow’s Last Stand Pt 2 – Web of Corruption (s) (x)
#45 Delirium’s Tangle (Torch)
Level 6
#27 Our Lady of Silver (s)
• In addition to being a spurned suitor, the BBEG will be a Shadow Lodge agent, with information leading toward Heresy of Man)
#2-06 Heresy of Man Part 1 (s)
#2-07 Heresy of Man Part 2 (s)
Level 7
#2-08 Heresy of Man Part 3 (s)
#2-04 Shadows Fall on Absalom (s) (Torch)
• Discussed above, but to expand on this: Torch knows what is going on, and uses a few behind the scenes string tugs to keep Dreng alive.
#2-21 The Dalsine Affair (s)
Level 8
#36 Echoes of the Everwar Part 1
#2-03 The Rebel’s Ransom (s)
• The team that is in the crypt ahead of the PCs will be Shadow Lodge agents. Not sure, yet, what info/backstory they’ll have besides what is presented in the module.
#42 Echoes of the Everwar Part 2
Level 9
#44 Echoes of the Everwar Part 3 (s)
#3-10 The Immortal Conundrum (Torch)
• Torch will be a guest at the party. This module is added because the information gained regarding the Sun Orchid Elixir is the perfect lead in to Echoes pt 4.
#45 Echoes of the Everwar Part 4 (s)
Level 10
#2-20 Wrath of the Accursed (s)
• Placed here to take advantage of the placement of Echoes 4 – this is the perfect thing to stumble into after returning from that mission.
#40 Hall of Drunken Heroes
#38 No Plunder, No Pay (s)
• The Pathfinder ship’s captain that makes an appearance in the module is the perfect spot for another Shadow Lodge agent.
Level 11
#2-14 The Chasm of Screams
#2-08 The Sarkorian Prophecy (s) (Torch)
• The information gleaned from the pages of prophecy will lead to information regarding Torch, and the next scenario. Yeah, yeah; I’m aware that prophecy is dead in Golarion. Happily, my players aren’t (-:
#2-26 The Mantis’s Prey (s) (Torch)
Level 12
#46 Eyes of the Ten Part 1 (s)
#54 Eyes of the Ten Part 2 (s)
#2-05 Eyes of the Ten Part 3 (s)
#2-22 Eyes of the Ten Part 4 (s)

I plan on dropping into this thread and adding updates to the story as they happen, and will keep people posted on how my group is doing. For instance:

We played this past Sunday for the first time. With the exception of my wife, none of my players have experienced anything like PFS or any other open play campaign. My “backup plan” was immediately put to the test, as well; one player’s wife was very ill, and he had to miss the game. So, we played Mists of Mwangi with the secondary characters.

It went extremely well, and a good time was had by all. One player is thrilled by the encapsulated nature of the story (she was able to start and finish a story all in one day, something we rarely did with Rise of the Runelords, which was her first ever RPG experience). Another player immediately fell in love with the intricacies of the faction missions, as they did their job to perfection. The missions forced my players to pay more attention and they “derailed” with side conversations far less often. Additionally, the role playing that ensued between several of them due to the missions that needed to be accomplished was excellent, and really went a long way toward defining these brand new characters.

Speaking of which, the “backup plan”:

I am not as worried about keeping the characters at the same level of XP with these scenarios. If one PC is a level behind, no big deal. These modules will be much more like PFS play, and will be used to showcase pieces of story the main group is missing out on. Also, I am very unlikely to get them all played. This will be a list of options, only, with a few that will definitely get done (City of Strangers, foremost).

#51 City of Strangers Part 1
#52 City of Strangers Part 2 (important to the Shadow Lodge story arc, and not in the main list merely due to my wife having played Part 1 in her PFS career, already)
#5 Mists of Mwangi (played, already, in fact)
#4 The Frozen Fingers of Midnight (a favorite, along with Mists)
#7 Among the Living
#49 Among the Dead
#3-08 Among the Gods (series are fun, and this one has good potential to make the secondary characters have a “thing” they care about and can accomplish)
#2-01 Before the Dawn Part 1
#2-02 Before the Dawn Part 2 (awesome modules, easily some of my very favorite – my wife has played them, but I will be hard pressed to keep from playing the others through these at some point)
#3-02 Sewer Dragons of Absalom (my favorite PFS scenario of all time – no one should go through their PFS career without experiencing this module’s pure awesomeness)

That’s all, for now. Thanks for reading. And, again, any thoughts any of you may have are greatly appreciated.

Qadira *

From Silent Tide to Eyes of the Ten, I watched a lot of characters grow from their first inkling to the final stride they would take on the pages of adventure. I started my pathfinder Career with Silent Tide and I remember how much fun I had with that first initial game. It is so different looking back on the past 3 and half years and wished I would have had the oppurtunity to do a campaign with the same character in the Shadow Lodge. Regardless, the story being played out with multiple characters is a lot of fun.

To hear how much fun your players had this past weekend is fantastic. I wouldn't mind running something like that in the future or even having a chance to partake in one myself as a player.

Thanks Drogon for the many years of adventures and many more to come. You are great DM and I hope that this endeavor is a worthwhile adventure for both you and your players.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

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It's been a while since I've given an update, and I'm feeling the need to share, so here I am. I'll use spoilers to avoid "wall o' text," again, as this is a very detailed update.

The A-Team:
My party of Pathfinders has settled pretty well into their respective personalities, and enjoys the moniker they have coined for themselves, as it comes with a bad 80s theme song. There is Xorn, a halfling fighter (with a single level as a cleric of Abadar) who has chosen Andoran as his faction. Next is Timodan, a human cleric of Cayden Cailean who advances the cause of Taldor. Then there is Tibs, a half-elf summoner who is just entering his late teens and was brought away from an orphanage by Adril Hestram - he is extremely proud to be a Pathfinder, so Grand Lodge was his choice. Stella, a human with truly sticky fingers, plays the part of rogue and does the occasional job for Guaril Karela (Szcarni). And, finally, Mandalynne the Magnificent, gnome bard extraordinaire, who scoffs at all the airs put on by all the different factions within the Society, and ended up being Grand Master Torch's only truly loyal agent in the field as he tries to extricate himself from a very delicate position that has spiraled out of his control.

If I get the chance, I will go into a bit of detail on how I adjusted the factions' "voices" for these players. Specifically, Mandalynne's choice of the Shadow Lodge faction proved very difficult to fit in, but I think I have pulled it off.

The party has played their first five scenarios at this point, having just completed #2-15, Shades of Ice Part 1 - Written in Blood. I changed the machinations of the Aspis Consortium in First Steps Part 3 into the machinations of the Shadow Lodge, with Nester Rees successfully getting away with the relic. Torch, of course, is suspected, a suspicion that was reinforced in Silent Tide.

The "B-Team," as the other group of PCs is affectionately called (whom I'll detail at some later date), has played through three scenarios, themselves, unearthing the Shadow Lodge plot at Kaer Maga in the City of Strangers scenarios. So all the players are now fully aware of what is afoot. Mandalynne, of course, will be playing quite the balancing act, and has so far been very adroit at avoiding suspicion as she goes about her missions.

Having gotten to the North and started Shades of Ice, I am finding myself wanting to make the first serious makeover in story to fit this into the campaign idea more easily. In their original placement in the Shadow Lodge story arc, these three scenarios come about half way through the "war" and begin interactions with a few key characters that culminate over the course of the next 8 scenarios in the Season. Obviously, as these come at the beginning of the story in my campaign, those interactions need to change, subtly.

Setup:
Moreover, the series starts with some intrigue and a plot by the Shadow Lodge to discredit the Pathfinder Society, which is carried over (sort of) into the second scenario. The third scenario just kind of leaves that idea behind in the dust and feels very much like a group of tacked-on encounters in the snowy north that have nothing really to do with anything that came before. In other words, the third scenario is quite a let-down, and I’m not too into that idea as the kick-off for an entire political war.

So, I made the following enhancements. Please note that none of these things alter stat blocks or change encounters. They merely change motivations and emphasize (or de-emphasize) certain characters and plot threads.

Part 1, Written in Blood:
To start, I removed the idea that Drandle Dreng is sick while he gives the mission briefing in Part 1. I can only assume that Josh Frost had some plan for that little bit of story, a plan he was unable to carry out due to leaving his position. Otherwise it was destined to be wasted character development. Instead, I took him back to the daft old man who gets the PCs up way too early in the day for decent adventurers, and always seems to have some secondary plan that he can’t really recall. "It is direly important that Skagni get the books in this chest, Pathfinders. And, no, you can’t simply take the books out and carry them in backpacks. In fact, don’t even open the chest. Your lives depend on it. Did you want some coffee to go with that scone? You look a little tired..."

Runa White’s plot is the key to the first scenario, of course. Instead of the happy coincidence she stumbles into with Hjort Fastaxe’s survival, however, I think it comes off better if that whole part was planned. The Shadow Lodge assaults the Blood Ram tribe for a very specific reason: they need the final pieces of the puzzle to locate a legendary Blood Ram tribe member’s final resting place.

Rannulf the Hammerhand was a Blood Ram before he was a member of the Ulfen Guard and, ultimately, the Huscarl King. Upon returning to the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, he gathered those who were interested in following him to the high plains of the Realms of the Mammoth Lords and paid his respects to those who would rule the Blood Rams as he never could. Of course, when knowledge came back that he had defeated a great white wyrm, many more of his tribe members set off in search of their rightful king. These legends are what the Shadow Lodge comes looking for. Destroying the village, taking slaves, and leaving behind a sole survivor with bloodlust in his eye all simply fit nicely into other agendas.

Runa White is left behind at Trollheim to watch for Hjort, a watch that does not disappoint. When she is presented with a team of Pathfinders that come into Trollheim, she steps up efforts to discredit the Society, while maneuvering Hjort into a confrontation with them that will, hopefully, end in one side’s death, the other side’s capture as sabateurs, and her escape. This, of course, necessitates the moving up of certain schedules. No group of mercenaries hanging out in the woods. No, they are set on the Pathfinders as soon as Runa gets wind of them, which is a result of the Pathfinders trying to track down Rognvald Skagni. She knows full well that the mercenaries she sends after them are doomed, and plants appropriate information on them to lead the Pathfinders further into the plot. It is a cat-and-mouse game to the finish, as described in the adventure as written.

I utilized Doug Miles’ cinematic addition of arson to the end of the encounter and had Runa attempt to make her escape whilst her patsies were all fighting each other. Stella was able to jump into Runa's cart as she escaped, and Timodan with his enhanced movement (aided as well by expeditious retreat) was able to keep up and the two had a running fight with the cleric while their teammates dealt with Hjorst and his cronies back at the armory. It was dicey for a bit, and a TPK was actually in offing, but the group pulled it out due to Timodan's ridiculous movement rate.

Bridging the gap:
The one-armed bartender will be the main point of contact at this juncture, as he has the means to communicate swiftly with Captain Maldris, who passes the information to the Society in exchange for the promise to go after the captured slaves and free them. He will also organize the caravan to Whitethrone. If Runa had gotten away from the arson on the armory, she would have been on the lookout for a tail. As she didn’t get away, she will escape the Castellan and send word ahead on fast wings of the Pathfinder’s approach. A quick bit of information will get passed to the right person, and set up the attack by the ice trolls. Our one-armed bartender will sniff this out and send the Pathfinders fleeing into the storm before the assault hits. They’ll catch glimpses of the attack as outlined in the opening sequence of Exiles of Winter.

The second scenario should be able to proceed as normal, at this point, relatively unchanged. Perhaps a little bit of extra information regarding Ranulf and his legendary axe, but little else will be necessary to advance the story properly. Of course, the one-armed bartender will make contact, again, providing the (assumptive) victorious Pathfinders with a cover and a way to move the freed slaves out of Whitethrone. Skagni, having been granted his chest, will open it to reveal a trove of information about the Blood Ram tribe and their Huscarl King. Additionally, there will be an Ulfen Guard badge of office that he gives the party.

The third scenario, however, is a mess. I get the distinct feeling that Josh Frost was going to write all three, then left Paizo high and dry after only finishing the first two, and the resulting scramble to meet a deadline ended up with a very sorry finish to the trilogy. I will be adding in a lot of story enhancements. By encounter:

Encounter A:
The survivor in the first encounter at the battlefield will have a story of an evil woman who seemed unstoppable in her fury. Should heal checks be made on the dead, most will be revealed to have been killed by negative energy damage. He will, of course, spit at the Pathfinders, recognizing any wayfinders that they wear (no need to stop the "discrediting" plot with the first two, after all). If, for some reason, the Pathfinders present the Ulfen Guard badge, that will give him pause, but he will still make every effort to escape the moment he can.

Encounter B:
The second encounter will be the result of being shadowed by another group of Snowmask Clan Kellid. By making perception roles and stealth roles, the Pathfinders will be able to stay ahead of their hunters, who, of course, are driving them into an ambush. This will be made apparent with a sense motive check, should someone bring up the possibility. If they engage the Kellid, and capture any survivors, the resulting interrogation will feel more like an accusation in return, as the Snowmask Clansmen demand to know why the "starseekers" – a reference to the sigil of the open road – are invading Snowmask Clan territory. These survivors, too, will attempt to flee if given the chance, with the same insult being given as the first Kellid, followed by a proclamation that the fury of winter will take the Snowmasks’ revenge.

Encounter C:
This, of course, is a reference to the ensuing blizzard, which will force the Pathfinders to seek shelter in the cave. I hate this encounter, and find myself really wishing I could make a change. If I had my way, I would swap out the dinosaurs with crysmals (they are the same CR, and this will be played at sub-tier 4-5), which have been clearing the cave of any crystal formations they can find – and there were originally many, which were incorporated into the murals the Pathfinders can find. Of course, my Pathfinders would all have gemstones on them from previous encounters, and the crysmals would attack. Alas, I will practice what I preach, and control myself to not change anything in that way. I will change the murals to be a story line that started with the Blood Ram tribe members trying to find their Huscarl King. Their story will be incorporated into that of the Snowmask Clan, laying the foundation for the village that is discovered after the next encounter. The key point of information that can be gleaned from this is the fact that the Huscarl King proudly wears his Ulfen Guard badge, and the Snowmask Clan came to recognize that sigil as their own.

Encounters D and E:
The ambush in the canyon will again start out with harrying bands of Snowmasks driving the Pathfinders in the "correct" direction. As my players will be a bit more aware of ambush, this time, I am expecting them to be very leery of the canyon and try to find a way around. I am planning the fact that the herd of mammoths that are moving in and around the canyon will actually be presented as suitable "cover" for them to use to sneak through the canyon to the other side. I will once again give them a series of perception and stealth checks that will lead them to believe they are throwing off their pursuers, only to end up in the middle of a very dangerous situation when they are halfway through the canyon.

They will, of course, escape up the canyon walls, likely ending up split by varying distances. As they gain the top of the cliffs, Snowmask Clansmen will surround them, some stepping forward and holding the Pathfinders by their coat fronts and unbalancing them on the edge of the cliff as the stampede proceeds below. At this point, surrounded by a superior force, and with the threat of being dropped to their deaths, they will be given a choice: disarm and come quietly to explain their presence in the tundra to the chieftain or be dropped to their deaths. Moreover, their cooperation in giving information on the "she-devil who kills by driving the freezing cold into the very bones of her enemies" will be necessary to ensure their survival. The only thing that has saved them to this point is the fact that they show the "sign of the Huscarl."

As the parley in the village plays out, information that Melkorka has made it to the Keep will be given to them. To this point, she has successfully driven off all attempts at keeping her from her goal, and now the Snowmasks watch the keep, waiting for her to come out. They have had the occasional skirmish with the guards she left behind, but the gatehouse towers are well defended. Plans have been made to rebury the keep, but it is known that they will not have enough time to set the avalanches properly before Melkorka emerges.

The Finale:
Assuming the players successfully sway the Snowmasks to their side, it will be decided during a war council that providing the Pathfinders a way to reach the gatehouse is what the Snowmasks can enable. The Snowmask war bands will draw Melkorka’s guards away from their positions and up the flanks of the canyon by staging a few hit and run raids. The Pathfinders can gain the gatehouse, and hold it against the group that went into the keep beneath the glacier, turning the Shadow Lodge’s defenses back on them.

The attack will begin as planned, but the Snowmask clansmen will not need to fake a retreat as they find more than they bargained for when Melkorka makes her reappearance. Several Snowmask clansmen will die fiery deaths as the axe she wields seems to be thrown an impossible distance to strike them, and then return back to her with a flick of her wrist. As the initial wave goes into full retreat, Melkorka sends her minions after them, giving the Pathfinders an opening to make their way to the gatehouse. Melkorka, of course, sees them coming, and the final fight is on.

When the Pathfinders make their way back into Irrisen after returning the axe to its resting place and burying the keep anew in the avalanches, the one-armed bartender will be waiting for them, ready to guide them through hostile territory and back to Trollheim. Next up, ship passage to Magnimar, where the Throaty Mermaid awaits.

The B-Team, by the way, has had a new scenario added to their list. Within a few months, I am sure I'll have to run them again, and The Frostfur Captives will need an escort out of Irrisen. I truly look forward to this.

Hope you enjoyed this (huge) update. Thank you for reading. (-:

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

So many updates to do from the last post...

I find myself coming back to this whenever I'm stuck. I read it a little bit, and I get "un-stuck." This time, though, I noticed that I had diverged quite a bit from my initial path (even from my last line about the A-Team). I took them a completely different direction. Why? Because of two things, actually.

For one, while prepping Murder on the Throaty Mermaid, I realized it had some themes that I was going to need to address and potentially change. I have a player who is extremely sensitive about the role of females in fantasy, and having an NPC in the scenario who could not be called anything other than the ship's whore was not going to go over well. As I didn't have a lot of time to be able to rewrite her role in a way that player would be more comfortable with, I decided to change course.

For the scenarios following Shades of Ice I decided to have the group escape the north via Ustalav, and subsequently make their way through the River Kingdoms and Lake Encarthan, then out to Absalom. So, The Darkest Vengeance and The Midnight Mauler were the follow up to the northern adventures, and from there the group made it back to Absalom.

An aside:
The Darkest Vengeance is extremely deadly to a group of 3rd level characters who decide to play up to sub-tier 4-5. I give my players the choice, as I do with every PFS game where the APL lands in the middle, and they decided to take the challenge. It very nearly cost them a TPK. If they hadn't gotten the machine turned on it would have ended very poorly.

My second direction shift came with the return to Absalom. I planned on running The Many Fortunes of Grandmaster Torch as their first scenario after returning home, thus putting Torch back to the forefront of their thoughts. But the scenario is terrible. I just couldn't get over my dislike of it, no matter how many times I tried, and ended up switching to Black Waters at the last minute. That went much better.

I tried to go back to Fortunes again for the next game, but just could not come up with a way to make the scenario enjoyable. I finally trashed it from my list and went with #3-18, The God's Market Gamble. A few character shifts and adjustments of emphasis, and I had an awesome replacement. I was a little sad about running a second "chase" scenario so soon after Midnight Mauler, but I figured the payoff would be worth it. And it was. The group really struggled with going to Torch for help (except the Shadow Lodge member, who had to really work on presenting that as a good alternative without blowing her cover). They finally did, and his story is really enhanced now, as I was hoping would happen with Fortunes.

Some plot spoilers:
Also, we had our first death. The cleric lost his life after making a bad tactical choice and getting peppered by the divine-hating sniper. The group was actually very close to getting TPK'd again, but pulled it out with a couple sound choices in the end. They pooled their money to raise said cleric, and will be proceeding on from here with a bit more experience and caution, I think.

The best part of this scenario was having a character from our old home game of Rise of the Runelords be the wannabe godling who was wandering around the God's Market throughout the scenario. At the end, the last thing the players saw was him running down the Godsway and launching himself over the abyss toward the Starstone Citadel.

Now is where I am stuck. I now have to figure out how to work the Shadow's Last Stand series into the plot, along with Delirium's Tangle, and only have four spots to pull this off. I'm trying to come up with a way to introduce the nemesis in SLS a bit more thoroughly, so that series can turn into a hunt for a rogue agent instead of what it is as written: one of the penultimate pieces of the Year of the Shadow Lodge story line.

A season 4 option:
I'm tempted to swap in Severing Ties and do a little rework on her placement in that story to jump start what I want to accomplish. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I like this idea. Plus, the scenario is fun to play, already. Perhaps rewriting the role of the Aspis Consortium to be a Shadow Lodge cell would work, as well. Hmm.

As usual, coming here helped my thought progression. Thanks for the read, if indeed you read through it. I'll be back soon, I'm sure.

Shadow Lodge ***

Ah, silent tide & Torch. Played it after the character had already done First Steps. Led to great conversation when we met him.
Me: Tell me he has clothes on this time.
GM: Yes.
My character: Ah, hello again Venture Captain ...
GM: I was wrong about the clothes. *Describes Torch.
character: Gah!
and on to discusion with him as a VC and the senario not really supporting it.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

thistledown wrote:

Ah, silent tide & Torch. Played it after the character had already done First Steps. Led to great conversation when we met him.

Me: Tell me he has clothes on this time.
GM: Yes.
My character: Ah, hello again Venture Captain ...
GM: I was wrong about the clothes. *Describes Torch.
character: Gah!
and on to discusion with him as a VC and the senario not really supporting it.

It's even worse if you subsequently play Many Fortunes of Grandmaster Torch. I had all kinds of problems with that one...

* Venture-Lieutenant, Virginia—Richmond aka Mystically Inclined

A dark, cavernous room is slowly revealed as a series of candles are lit in the mystically appropriate order. A low, harsh voice fills the air with discordant chanting as the growing light slowly illuminates the unsettling form of a long dead thread. A final handful of incense is tossed into a black flame, and the hoary old thing once again begins to move.

"By the Lords of Darkness I CALL UPON YOU TO RISE!"

2 1/2 years later, and 6 levels into my own redition of this campaign, I discover that there truly is nothing new under the sun.

My group just completed the Heresy of Man series and I was doing a search to see where Amenopheus's storyline was concluded, which is how I found this thread. I wish I'd found it much earlier. Drogon made some storyline changes that I wish I'd thought of, though later I'll post about my own unique twists that I've used to spice things up.

I'm hoping that by reviving this thread, we can all find out about how Drogon's campaign went. I also wanted to keep this more current for other GMs who were looking to try something like this. I'd intended to create a new thread asking some of the questions that have been answered here but due to odd filtering software I cannot create new posts at work.

So immediate question first... are there any scenarios pertaining to Amenopheus that I should run after Heresy of Man but before Shadow's Last Stand?

Also Drogon- how'd this campaign work out for you? :D

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Sadly, it petered out due to divorce. Two of my players were a couple who had been together for 15 years (not married, but still together all that time). Standard story, I think: the kind of couple that others pointed at during parties and said, "Why can't we treat each other like that, honey?" Then one day they weren't a couple (no marriage issues meant it was significantly easier for them to simply part ways all of a sudden).

Needless to say they didn't really want to continue playing together, either. Due to the OrgPlay requirements there was no way to bring in a replacement player for one of them and just continue, as anyone who had a PC in the correct level range (they had just hit 6th) was going to have been a part of PFS as a whole, and will have played various pieces of the campaign already. I floated the idea of bringing in another "newbie" and using the B-team to get that newbie up to the right level but the players weren't overly interested in that route (and I would have been severely challenged to find that many scenarios that would fit the overall story arc without breaking OrgPlay rules).

Worst ending to a campaign, ever.

We eventually added a new member to the group (one of my PFS players) and started up Wrath of the Righteous, which is going well.

I still think about breaking this out and running it for a new group. I have even refined many of the above ideas, albeit in my head. And there are several newer scenarios that fit in very nicely. But finding a group that fits the mold is tricky for me. Finding time to run a third campaign (I also run Kingmaker for another group) is even trickier.

But if anyone comes along with questions or comments I would be happy to discuss. This campaign will stand as one of my favorite pieces of writing in quite some time.

PS - The Severing Ties angle worked very nicely. The introduction of the baddie from Shadow's Last Stand worked like a charm. Just wish I'd been able to get to the payoff.

Edit: I'll poke around and see what I can remember about Amenopheus to see what you might want to run. Look for a comment next week (I'm buried in Magicland right now with a new set release this weekend, so don't have too much time to do fun things like this until after the weekend).

* Venture-Lieutenant, Virginia—Richmond aka Mystically Inclined

Yeah, the biggest problem I've come to realize is that if you're doing this for credit- like I'm doing for my group- you MUST have a reliable group. Folks leaving the group are incredibly hard to replace, and folks missing lots of sessions are difficult to deal with. I started with a group of 6, so I'm still chugging along with my group of 4 (and the 5th attending as he can). The scenario scheduling is much more difficult when everyone isn't on the same level, but I've countered that by having semi-regular sessions of Thornkeep. The players who need it have a chance to catch up, while my most reliable players (who also happen to play PFS regularly) switch to their other characters.

I kind of like Drogon's B-Team solution (especially since there are some scenarios that I couldn't fit in the storyline for various reasons) but I've been having trouble keeping the 1 session per week schedule that I'd planned.

Honestly, this sort of campaign would be MUCH easier for two GM's who collaberated on the storyline. If one GM had to bow out, the other could step in to maintain the schedule. Sadly, the player who was the best fit for that was the first to drop from the group (real life conflicts). I'll have to see if I can get someone else interested and bring them in.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

I actually used a "guest GM" a couple times for the B-team. That worked nicely, and even allowed me to play scenarios I had personally missed out on. Plus, I was able to sit down and play with my players, which they really liked. Seeing me on their side was a new experience for them. I think I may have actually shocked them a tad bit (I'm a pretty gregarious role player in the right situation, which I don't think they expected from a non-GM position at the table).

Anyhoo, I recommend looking for things you can play alongside your group and just recruiting in an outside GM from the local PFS players. It's a pretty cool solution.

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