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General thought on this AP


Serpent's Skull

Taldor

Hi guys!

We are soon beginning the third book of this adventure, and quite frankly, I'm disapointed.

I decided to subscribe to APs because I wanted to run already made adventures, but the thing is with this AP, I feel it's incomplete. I feel I must "do" several parts, not just read it and make sure I'm ready.

AS an example, in the second book, thw whole traveling part was a complete nightmare. Why impose on the GM to roll countless RE rolls? Why not just say on day X this happens, on day y this happens ?

The only choice I had was to roll all of them while preparing the adventure (what a boring series of rolls!), or have my players roll Morning-Midday-Evening-Night RE rolls, and then again for the next day. We just couldn't wait to get there!

And lastly, (I admit I haven't read books 4-6 yet), do you really feel there's a race? I surely don't. This is one huge part of this adventure (I think), and I really wish it would have been more detailed. "While your group does this, opposing factions discover this,this and that. If your group decides to explore there instead, then opposing factions discover this and that."

Are all APs built that way? Cause sincerely, if it is, I'll just stop spending that money.

I'm sad to write this, cause we were (and still are) really excited about the ruleset used by PFRPG, but this adventure, for us (and me as the GM particularly) is a huge disapointment.

Fred

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

I'm sorry to hear you're not having a fun time with this AP. Unfortunately you picked one that has often been cited has having the most weaknesses.

For an AP that requires significantly less prep-time with a stronger story I recommend either Carrion Crown or Jade Regent. Alternatively the Rise of the Runelords Collected Edition is coming out this year and would also function as you hope it would.

That said, no published adventure is perfect for every group (for example I like opportunities for Random Encounters, and having space to prep my own material). There are about 9 APs out at the moment (12 if you count the old 3.5 dungeon ones), so I'm sure at least one of these will suit your GMing style.

It sounds like Sandboxes aren't your thing, Carrion Crown is a gothic horror railroad that might be easier to handle :)

In any case, good luck with your game.


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Concordia wrote:

...AS an example, in the second book, thw whole traveling part was a complete nightmare. Why impose on the GM to roll countless RE rolls? Why not just say on day X this happens, on day y this happens ?

The only choice I had was to roll all of them while preparing the adventure (what a boring series of rolls!), or have my players roll Morning-Midday-Evening-Night RE rolls, and then again for the next day. We just couldn't wait to get there!...

The only thing I have to add is about random encounters. If you don't want to roll them at the table try one of these:

Decide when they happen and even what the encounter will be. You're the DM, you can make the call.

Or roll them beforehand. I use the random number function in Excell or Google spreadsheet and print off a page or two of random percentiles for things like random encounters. Then if I have time I may even start a list of what the encounters will be using the pages from Excel.

Either of these should make the game flow a little smoother.

Taldor

@Big Bucket: I know all this. I just didn't want it. I wanted the adventure to be ready to run. I don't mind a few finishing touches, but that is way too much.

It's one thing to offer a few more options. It's a whole different thing to let the GM decide 50% of the adventure. For me, this is incomplete material.

@Dudemaster: Glad to hear it. I got both the CC and JR adventure path. Will see how it goes.

Fred

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

I think Dudemeister got a lot of the high points here.

SS *can* be good but -as you've pointed out- it requires a LOT of extra work. (I'm running it now and finding this out). I too spent hours rolling up random encounters and weather beforehand and preparing a long "Journey Spreadsheet"... and in the end just skipping passed big chunks of it because frankly it got boring. lol.

As for more "ready-to-run" adventures, I'd also recommend Curse of the Crimson Throne. It required little prep-work to run as is and was a lot of fun.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

First, to respond to Dudemeister: I don't know, the caravan (book 2) that he's talking about is a pretty solid rail-road. Book 3's the sandbox, but it's a pretty nasty one, all-told.

Concordia, have you read up on books 3-6, yet? 'Cause be prepared for sandbox-railroad-sandbox-railroad-sandbox-railroad whiplash (that's how the AP is structured). Also, don't feel compelled to complete number 3 before introducing number 4... at all. Number three could be almost entirely happening in the background, really, except for the "events". It wouldn't change the more fun parts of the game. I like to call number three "explorers without a cause". When introducing number four "early", however, recall that it's meant for higher-level folks, so you'll want to tread carefully, reduce the encounter power, or drop a few (temporary use) items that will help them survive it easier.

Number 5 while being a sort-of-sandbox (in that there's an entire map to explore), really has much more direction than 3 (in that there's a specific trail you're more or less following and there's NPCs who help you) and by the time number 6 rolls around, you'll have a very clear direction of what to do next. Just hang in there, and you'll need to do far less work (over-all) for 4-6 than you need for 2-3. I understand the frustration, though.

Anyway, APs that I've heard have been great:

* Rise of the Runelords
* Curse of the Crimson Throne
* Legacy of Fire [own it, looks excellent]
* Council of Thieves
* Kingmaker [played it myself, it's been a blast, though we're taking our sweet, sweet glorious time with it; it's a sandbox]
* Carrion Crown [own it, will GM soon]
* Jade Regent [will soon own it and play it]

APs that I've heard are not so great or require lots of work:

* Second Darkness
* Serpent's Skull [own it, I've never worked so hard on a campaign*]

Oddly, the two are actually related - canonically, the Serpent's Skull apparently happens after Second Darkness, and there are specific reasons for this (you'll read more about them as GM, and I don't want to drop spoilers). More oddly, the related nature of the two... doesn't really cause the problem, from what I can tell. It's just kind of random: the two that are linked by story happen to be the two least-popular APs out there. So, I wouldn't despair just yet.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

We had our last session just yesterday and while giving me a ride home one of my players told me that he really liked the campaign so far and is enjoying himself very much!
And we are already half-way through the third book beyond the point where most people started to get bored by this AP. I don't do much preparation work besides reading the modules and doing the usual ability check-ups. Maybe it's because it is the first AP for my players and they don't know what this line *could* deliver but we are certainly most satisfied with what Serpent's Skull has given us so far. We are having fun!


I would be careful with Jade Regeant too. Granted, I haven't read through it completely, but from the glances I've given it, looks like there are a lot of undefined areas durring the travel sections. You might have the same issues. Personally, I think you're overreacting and need to understand that a published adventure isn't going to give you every little single thing detailed and packaged...but as has been stated, some of the APs are more fill in the blank than others. From my understanding, Kingmaker, Serpent's Skull, and Jade Regeant are probably not going to be what you're looking for, and Second Darkness might cause problems too.

Taldor

Fraust wrote:
I would be careful with Jade Regeant too. Granted, I haven't read through it completely, but from the glances I've given it, looks like there are a lot of undefined areas durring the travel sections. You might have the same issues. Personally, I think you're overreacting and need to understand that a published adventure isn't going to give you every little single thing detailed and packaged...but as has been stated, some of the APs are more fill in the blank than others. From my understanding, Kingmaker, Serpent's Skull, and Jade Regeant are probably not going to be what you're looking for, and Second Darkness might cause problems too.

Well, I've run many adventures before, and never have I encountered one where I have that amount of work to do. Been DMing for roughly 20 years, bought many adventures during that time for 2nd Ed., 3rd Ed, 3.5 and even 4th Ed., this one is by far the least "complete".

So I don't know where you saw me overreact, but the way this feels for me, is that it maybe should have been a "campaign setting" instead of an adventure. Way too open to my taste.

@Tacticslion: the caravan is railroady, but you do have to roll for hundreds of RE or, otherwise, it becomes a useless series of "Four days later, you get to that point...". Anyway, it did become a boring series of rolls for us.

Thanks for the AP suggestions, I got Jade Reagent and Carrion Crown. Will look for Crimson Throne: many times I heard it was good.

Fred

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Actually Concordia, I don't think you're overreacting at all.
Can you run SS directly "as written"? Certainly, but part 2 becomes a bit bland and STILL requires all the random encounter rolls.

Want to play up the race aspect? Faction strife? Positions of other scouts and expeditions (even just relative position to the PCs)? What the other scouts are doing?
All of that you'll need to do on your own. Now I'll say I did it and it made part 2 a BLAST, but I'm not gonna lie and say it wasn't quite a bit of extra work.

Same goes for part 3. You'll need to roll encounters for -not just the PCs- but for the PCs camp and all the other camps each day. Again, I did this all out in advance which made it MUCH easier, but it's extra work.
You can still run part 3 directly as written (still with all the extra rolls) but it becomes quite a static grind.

And the same goes here for fleshing out this adventure. You'll need to decide which areas the other factions are exploring. Also if/when the other factions move camps to expedite their exploration. You'll need to decide if/when the city's inhabitants decide to react to the incursion.

Now don't get me wrong! I'm loving running this AP. But it's been a labor of love to make it a truly dynamic adventure.

Oh and Nullpunkt, glad to hear your players are loving your adventure! I've really enjoyed reading your account thread, but I've noticed that even you have made a number of adjustments. You might not do it as prep work and do it instead on the fly, which is great! I'm just not as good at doing it on the fly and need it more spelled out for me beforehand for my own organization. :)


as jenner said serpent's skull is much better if you go for broke. personally i like book 3 for that reason, i can change or tweak whatever i want and not worry bout it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think Carrion Crown would be a much better choice for you to be honest. Serpents Skull seems right up my ally, but I could see it being a lot more extra work then the other APs I have read. Carrion Crown for the most part however is very liner. There are a few moments where you will need to do some extra prep work, but nothing like Serpents Skull.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Basically, for Serpent's Skull, making all the "random" rolls in advance was an amazing game-saver. Then I just reference my day/encounter chart and can drop nifty things together. Like (I've used this example before) the encounter between the lions and the hyenas. I rolled up two different encounters, and thought "hey, it might be neat for the group to come across the two battling each other" presuming they'd pass on by. NOPE! They saw the hyena pack, decided the lion was suffering an injustice, and totally obliterated the hyenas (and saving the lion's life and later gaining a pet for all their efforts). Ridiculously memorable event (with lasting repercussions) from rolling the random encounters in advance. Do that with most of the books, and you're fairly golden. It does require work making a chart, though. And I love Jenner's suggestion for rolling it for all the rivals, too. That's great. I wish I'd done that myself!


I think this AP is awesome, but it does some what depend on what you and your group are looking for. Serpent's Skull is not your typical high adventure fantasy campaign.

My current group will finish the 2nd book next session.

Smuggler's Shiv is one of the best single packaged adventures I've ever come across. 2 Groups I have ran it for enjoyed it very much.

Racing to Ruin has got some great encounters which is the strength of the module. I skipped all random encounters as their importance seemed marginalized and boorish with the 2 month travel time. Group is still very close to where they should be XP wise.

Taldor

Thank you all for your comments.

Again, I'm not saying it's not a good adventure path. I'm saying there's way too much work to do to make it enjoyable FOR ME.

I don't know how much time you got to prepare for running your adventures and I really wish I had as much as you do. But this is exactly why I went the "published" adventure road: I didn't have time to write my own like I used to do.

So that's all I'm saying: for someone who wants a "plug-and-play" adventure, this is surely not the one to buy.

Call it bad luck that I started my subscription with this one. I'll run Carrion Crown if I can, but for what I was looking for, this is a total failure. I want to know what the other factions are achieving, not play it!

Same things with the camps. This is a waste of time for me. They need supplies, they go buy some. They don't get there to see it's been run down by random encounters. No time for that.

Fred

Taldor

As a side note: is there a way to get notification when your posts are being replied to? Can't find it (hence, answering back 12 days later...).

Fred


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Concordia wrote:

As a side note: is there a way to get notification when your posts are being replied to? Can't find it (hence, answering back 12 days later...).

Fred

I know the sort of "notify me of replies" email option you're talking about but these boards don't have any such functionality. You've basically got 2 options up in the upper-right corner of the page just above the Search box:

Recent Posts: This is the RSS feed for the thread. It basically sends updates any updates to your RSS Reader. This allows you to either read replies in an external program (like Google Reader or the one built into FireFox), or get a notification so you know to check the forum.

List This Thread: This adds the thread to one of your Lists so that you can keep track of posts of interest in one place. Whenever there are new replies, you'll see it noted in parenthesis just like if you were scrolling thru the main index.

Mind you, this will require you to get in the habit of maintaining and then checking that list regularly.

Hope this helps.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not directly that I'm aware of, you'll just have to keep an eye on the forums (and check to see if the thread has been updated).

EDIT: Ooooooooor, Laithoron could ninja me by, like, two seconds (and/or forty-seven minutes, depending on who you believe) with a better answer!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

TL: Haha, yes me and my stealth-elf powers. ;)

Also, I was just reminded of a 3rd feature that is useful for this:

Focus/Defocus: Just to the left of the Search box is a link entitled "Focus". When you click this, it will show you any threads you've looked at or replied to that contain new posts since the last time you checked them. :)

FWIW, I personally use the RSS feed only to keep track of my PbP. For everything else, I use either Lists of Focus.


I have to say City of Seven Spears has been one of the least complete and most annoying modules to DM of my 25+ year DMing career.

There are almost no useable encounter maps and the few that they include are for the least important, lamest encounters in the whole module.

The plot line barely exists and the mechanic they invented to replace actually adventuring to complete the module is poorly defined and I am spending more time trying to define this module in order to not kill off a campaign that my players are enjoying than I usually take to create a module from scratch.

The first two modules were considerably better, but the City of Seven Spears is simply not up to par. To be honest, if it wasn't for the time investment in my player's characters I'd shut the campaign down.


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My group has really enjoyed it so far, but we're only up to book 2 (right at the end). Book 1 needed some miner tweaks and probably underplayed the shipwreck crawl/survivor element, but thats fine. It was a good bit of room for GM creativity.

I've enjoyed GMing book 2, but I must admit that I've needed the forums to help me out. There are some pretty big gaps that needed to be fleshed out more. The negotiations is underdone with information on the factions and the trailblazing role isn't fully explained. Groups naturally want to shoot off like a sprinter, but can't/shouldn't as they'd be breaking away from the expedition too much and thus defeat the point of being trailblazers which is to clear the path.

I also think book 2 really missed an opportunity to add some "talky" challenges. As it currently is you don't really need the guide at all and I think having some diplomatic challenges would have improved book 2. Random merchants, native tribes, colonial explorers, etc. can have been encounters and would have the whole "we need to get the guide" relevant.

Must admit that I wonder if book 2 should be about the group researching in Eledar with book 3 being setting out for the expedition. Theres a big write up on Eledar and you barely use it as the group is out getting the guide and then off on the race. In saying all this though, my group is having fun and so am I - its just taken a bit of GM work to make it work for us (which is pretty normal).

Patrick, my group is about to wrap up book 2, and I'm looking at book 3 and thinking what I can do to "jazz it up". What changes would you make if you had the time?

I'm thinking of making it a contested ground and treating it as having capture points that the PCs need to win, control and hold. I'm thinking of having the expedition camps eventually move into the city by forming alliances with the groups controlling the spears. Based on your experience would this work?

After having a read I think book 3 is really just a level boost to get the PCs ready for book 4. So I'm also looking at dropping in The Harrowing by Crystal Frasier, which seems an easy drop in.

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

BQ, totally agree that RtR missed out on some good diplomatic encounters. Especially since you're moving right along the border of the Mzali to the south. There's one little run in with them and that's it. The mod desperately needed some more native encounters (which I added myself, but would have been nice to be provided).

And the guide? Yeah... I have a six man table so knew they wouldn't need Nkechi as a guide (combat turns take long enough as is). I changed that up. What happened was the native porters' spiritual leader was killed in the warehouse fire. The faction leader said they wouldn't be able to set out because the natives thought their expedition was cursed. So the PCs needed to have Nkechi come along to serve as a spiritual leader for all the porters. Worked much better, kept him in the background once the race began (he traveled with the main caravan) and he wasn't slowing down my already large table.

Also made Nkechi kind of the spokesman for the native manual laborers working for the faction expedition. Gave the PCs a "go to" man if they needed some manpower help with something (repairing a bridge to the central island, clearing an area to move the camp, etc)

Same with Athyra once she joined. She gave the PCs some pointers on what was ahead in the M'Neri plains then she and Jagi dropped back to guide the main expedition.


BQ,

As far as jazzing it up, I think you have to decide between just re-writing the module with pulling some of the Monsters/NPC's in and really playing up the inter-faction strife by enhancing the Discovery Point system.

If you take the second option, I think you really need to set up a large table of what the PC's discover when and apply things such as Knowledge skills and others so that those skills come into play, as they well should. Also put together concrete information to go with certain amounts of discovery points so it feels like they are actually learning something.

Finally, you're going to need A LOT of maps. I can't believe how little maps are given for what should have been a very, very cartography rich module. I bought the map-pack hoping that it would help and was sorely disappointed. That is the first product I bought from Paizo that I genuinely wanted my money back.

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Patrick, the mod certainly needs to be better defined. Not sure if it helps, but here's how I'm doing it (currently about 2/3 through CoSS).

1) Encounter maps: the lack thereof has been the bane of my existance with this mod. My suggestion is grab the Jungle and Ruins Map Packs and the D&D Essentials Wilderness tiles. For an encounter, grab a few, toss 'em down and just roll with it. The Jungle pack even comes with a nice zigurat for the Spear fights (though it's much too small. You'll have to explain it's only the upper tier of the structure)

2) Plot: there's been a couple threads about the plot and the real need to have Yarzoth survive SfSS to draw the PCs into Saventh-Yhi (and into Ilmurea below). I think Tacticslion did a GREAT write up about this but essentially, have the PCs encounter some of the degenerate serpentfolk from the Government district soon after arriving (a patrol maybe). Have them ranting about the return of the "chosen one" who will bring about the "Golden Age of the Serpent". If the PCs inquire further (prisoner maybe?) the degenerates can tell of Yarzoth's arrival, how she turned them against their false god (the rakshasa) back to the true path of the Father of Serpents. Then she headed towards the south end of the valley (the Vault with the portal to Ilmurea). Have them describe her distinctive scale pattern so the PCs can recognize her as Ieana/Yarzoth from the Shiv.

NOTE: if Yarzoth is already dead, have the PCs find a location where she was attacked and a few pages were torn from her journal (already established that she keeps meticulous notes from her time on Smuggler's Shiv). There they can find that she was Raised by members of something called The Coil (agents sent by Ilmurea so she can assist in the ritual).

This simple fact of including a hunt for her really helps motivate the PCs further into the city (if they're not strong with any Faction motivations. My own PCs are really gunning for glory for their factions anyway.)

3) Exploration: I made a few changes (based on other excellant comments from the boards here) but mostly just wrote down a simpler "flowchart" that I could follow:

- Each District has 15 Discovery Points that can be found. This largely represents surveying and mapping out the lost city of Saventh-Yhi.

- As the PCs are moving through the district "securing it" (eg. taking out the strong points under "victory conditions") the rest of the faction researchers are mapping out the edges of the district. This is the daily Exploration roll. (It's been my experience this usually takes them up to 8 to 10 Discovery points until a district is secure)

- Once area secure, xp awarded to PCs, camp gets its +1 to each stat bonus.

- Once secure, it's now safe enough for the researchers to move in and (instead of a discovery roll) get to automatically get a mystery for the day. Each mystery is also worth 1 Discovery point (and xp!) so this should be the goal of the party as well (unless they want to try for the roll and the chance of getting multiple Discovery points instead of mysteries. But that's their choice).

- Once the researchers move in, the party can spend the day assisting them (making the knowledge roll for an additional mystery). OR the party can move on to securing the next district (start hitting the next set of strong points).

- Depending how you're handling mysteries, consider setting a max of 8 to 10 in a district. I have them on slips of paper and hand them out and think I had about 40 (combined some and added some more foreshadowing for books 4-6)

- Allying with a district: if the PCs move in and ally with a district, it's now secure. Woot! Camp bonuses and xp awarded! Can immediately start searching for mysteries (since again, each mystery is worth a discovery point as well). Allying with a district is the fastest way to explore it since you are assured of one a day (as a mystery) from the researchers and (if you have a knowledge guy in the group) a second mystery from the PCs efforts.

I hope that was some help Patrick. Yeah it's an extra subsystem, but hopefully if you can explain what's actually happening behind the numbers, your PCs will get into it more (Mine have anyway). Shrug.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Patrick McDade wrote:
If you take the second option, I think you really need to set up a large table of what the PC's discover when and apply things such as Knowledge skills and others so that those skills come into play, as they well should. Also put together concrete information to go with certain amounts of discovery points so it feels like they are actually learning something.

Have you been using the Mystery table? These are almost exactly what you're describing: specific pieces of information that can be found.

Bad side: you really have to type them out before hand (to read or as handouts) otherwise you have to hunt through the mod to find them when you need them.

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

My opinion on "jazzing" it up BQ, is just think about what the NPCs in the city would do and what the other faction leaders would do.

Don't let the PCs exist in a vaccuum.
Have an idea of where the other factions are going to move to and what they're going to do. From there, you should be able to "play off" what the adventure provides.

For instance, here's a rundown on what's happened in my playing through of CoSS. You'll notice I haven't really "added" much, just played off how the Faction leaders and NPCs would react to particular encounters (even if some of them were random encounters that I rolled out before hand)

spoiler for length:

- Group arrives guiding the Government faction. Have become more and more dissatisfied with the racism of General Havelar (they all play native Mwangi).
- During the night, a patrol of Sargavan soldiers is killed by the charou-ki in the nearby Military district. General Havelar vows revenge and launches a genocidal campaign to wipe them out!
- Last straw for the PCs. They leave to join another faction. My pirate PC and Pathfinder PC argue over which faction to join. With several good diplomacy rolls and great role playing, they get Kassata and Amivour to join forces forming a joint Pirate/Pathfinder camp.
- PCs set out to secure the Merchant district. Have several run-ins with Ishirou who is also exploring the district for the Consortium. Hostilities avoided… for now.
- The Government starts waging war against the charou-ki slowly forcing their way into the Military district
- Red Mantis remains unseen (they’re quietly scouting out the Artisan and Farming districts to the south)
- PCs finish securing and exploring the Merchant district and decide to set their porters to repairing the bridges to the central islands (Government district)
- One PC (secretly working for the Consortium) tells the Aspis that the Merchant district is secure. The Consortium moves camp into the secured ruins and begin exploring quickly trying to catch up to the PCs
- PCs reach the central island and run afoul of the rakshasa (from previous post: he’s sulking because Yarzoth turns all of his followers against him). PCs get curb stomped and run away, vowing to take care of him later.
- Consortium finishes Merchant district and moves around to the south. Run into the boggards and arrange an alliance with them. Consortium moves camp into Farming district
-PCs continue securing Government district inflicting horrendous losses on the serpentfolk. Finally district secure (with almost half of the snake-men dead)
-Government forces occupy Military district pushing charou-ki back to their two strong points (Spear plaza and plateau fortress). They finish off their discovery points here.
-PCs finish exploring Government district. Rakshasa makes several appearances at PCs camp attempting to charm members of their party and faction but is driven off each time (good saves and good preparations by my PCs). Remaining serpentfolk hide in several outlying buildings and flee in fear from the PCs having been thoroughly beaten down.
-PCs hear about Yarzoth from serpentfolk survivors and set out around to the south side for this “human land” the serpentfolk hated. Met the Tribe of the Sacred Serpent and allied with them (securing the Artisan district and moving their base camp down there)
-Red Mantis moves camp further south and runs afoul of the aboleth. Several assassins dominated as the aboleth tries to figure out what to do about these newcomers.
- Now that the PCs have left, rakshasa sees an opening. Regains the trust of the serpentfolk (“See? Your serpent god is weak! He did nothing to protect you from the humans!”)
-Government slowly starts exploring the Residential district, keeping an eye on the charou-ki to their rear.
- PC Aspis agent tells the Consortium that the central islands are secure. Aspis camp starts making rafts on the shore of the Farming district to explore the central islands. Much hilarity ensues as the PCs repeated sabotage them (including “kiting” the mokele-mbembe and sending it rampaging through the Aspis camp)
-PCs finally discover the Mantis camp. Chivane assures them she’s just looking for the temple. They share information (but secretly hope to find it first to use as leverage against the Mantis and to free Sasha who’s essentially being held as a hostage)
-Aboleth sees an opening and sends his dominated Mantis assassins against the PCs camp trying to break up this new semi-alliance.
-On the far side of the lake, the rakshasa kills General Havelar and impersonates him. Moves the Government camp onto the central island in a “surprise” alliance with the serpentfolk. Jask and Nkechi (who were left behind to keep an eye on things at the Government camp) are captured for causing “trouble” and disappear to become play things back in the rakshasa’s den (and to hopefully be rescued by the PCs later)
-PCs set out into the Temple district to look for the Mantis God temple as their camp races to finish up discovery points in the Artisan district
-Aspis camp reaches the Government district and arranges for a no-hostility agreement with the rakshasa.
-The rakshasa eyes the PCs camp among the Tribe of the Sacred Serpent and plots to send a serpentfolk and Government force to wipe out their camp.


Cheers mate. I'll be using some of that.

My group has a coalition expedition (Sagarvan Govt and Pathfinder Society). I'm thinking that given the Red Mantis primary interest is the temple that they can be a potential ally with some diplomatic effort.

What I'm thinking of doing is using the big map from the Map Folio and putting it out in the open for my PCs to plan which areas they want to target. I'm thinking that given the Sagarvan Gov have a military leader, the Colonel will mark out areas (which will freakishly match up to the districts). He believes that for the expedition to claim the city it will need to control these areas. I'll then leave it up to my PCs to decide where they want to target, but the Colonel will say he thinks a better defensible position would be somewhere in the city to get the PCs to focus on one area.

For the other factions I figure the Mantis would focus on the Temple District. I'll set a time that the PCs will have before the Mantis control the temple and then another set time for when the Mantis have expanded their control out to the entire district. This will push out the current occupants who will spill into other areas.

The Aspis could go anywhere, but I think they would focus on the Mercantile and Government districts. I'll set a time that the PCs have before they form an agreement/pact with the group controlling Merchant District and another time for them to push into the Government district which will force the current occupiers into other areas. I'm thinking of having the Aspis supplying the side they've got a pact with or having the forces of that side with Aspis spellcasters and archers.

The Pirates could go anywhere too, but I think their greed would pull them to the mercantile district. They may also be interested in the Military district looking for powerful magic weapons. They'll push into one and diplomatic their way into another. Timelines for this too. I'm tempted to have the Pirates creating a bit of chaos by setting things on fire, explodings things and so on.

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
BQ wrote:
Cheers mate. I'll be using some of that.

Cool! Glad it was some help. Was trying to point out how so many of the fun and interesting events happening in the city are just a logical decision on what the NPCs would do based on their personalities. CoSS really gives you a chance to just run with the various faction leaders and tribe leaders in a way that you think is fun.

BQ wrote:
What I'm thinking of doing is using the big map from the Map Folio and putting it out in the open for my PCs to plan which areas they want to target. I'm thinking that given the Sagarvan Gov have a military leader, the Colonel will mark out areas (which will freakishly match up to the districts). He believes that for the expedition to claim the city it will need to control these areas. I'll then leave it up to my PCs to decide where they want to target, but the Colonel will say he thinks a better defensible position would be somewhere in the city to get the PCs to focus on one area.

The large city map is awesome to use for large scale planning. I've been using that as well. Another thing to consider is that I think JJ mentioned somewhere that he envisioned a deep jungle exploration camp of 80-100 people being about 1x1 inch on that large map. That just happens to be the same size as the small sticky tabs you can buy to mark pages. So I drop those on the map to mark where the faction base camps are. If one of the camps move, I just pull it off and tell the PCs that they don't see the usual campfires from where the faction camp was. That's their tip that another faction is on the move (and they can track them down if they want).

And good thinking coming right out and dividing up the districts for the PCs. You might also have the Colonel point out the seven tall spires that the districts seem to be arrayed around (the Spears are described as being visible along the skyline from almost anywhere in the city... until the afternoon mist sets in of course). Even if they're not sure WHAT the spires are, judging by their position of prominence control of the areas around them will be key.

BQ wrote:
For the other factions I figure the Mantis would focus on the Temple District. I'll set a time that the PCs will have before the Mantis control the temple and then another set time for when the Mantis have expanded their control out to the entire district. This will push out the current occupants who will spill into other areas.

Excellant option on just giving them a timeline. Hadn't thought of that. Saves you from making the exploration rolls for them and definitely cuts down on some of the book keeping!

BQ wrote:
The Aspis could go anywhere, but I think they would focus on the Mercantile and Government districts. I'll set a time that the PCs have before they form an agreement/pact with the group controlling Merchant District and another time for them to push into the Government district which will force the current occupiers into other areas. I'm thinking of having the Aspis supplying the side they've got a pact with or having the forces of that side with Aspis spellcasters and archers.

Nice! I did similar by having the Aspis Consortium supplying their boggard allies with weapons. Once the PCs ran into a boggard patrol sporting nice masterwork metal weapons, they knew something was up! Actual caster and archer support would do the same thing for you. Maybe using them as military "advisors" to the tribes. :) Very cool.

BQ wrote:
The Pirates could go anywhere too, but I think their greed would pull them to the mercantile district.

Heh. Yeah especially if any of their scouts spot the sunken bank. :) I see you having several new pirate shadows to add when the PCs get to the bank. lol.

BQ wrote:
They may also be interested in the Military district looking for powerful magic weapons. They'll push into one and diplomatic their way into another. Timelines for this too. I'm tempted to have the Pirates creating a bit of chaos by setting things on fire,...

LOL. That's awesome! The pirates burning stuff behind them after they've looted it is great. Really gives a sense of pressure to the PCs to get to an area before the Pirates do.

I used the Government as my "sledgehammer" force. They'd brought several seige engineers with them who directed the building of a battery of catapults. They shelled the heck out of the charou-ki in the Military district to pacify them. Drove my scholar PC crazy as I was describing the catapult stones blowing chunks of thousand year old buildings into the air and knocking them down. You could play off the chaotic pirates as very similar, destroying anything that they don't immediately think is valuable.

Great ideas, BQ. Sounds like you're really starting to flesh out CoSS and should be a blast for your players!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just wanted to bop in and say that this thread, amongst others, has been incredibly helpful for campaign planning. I knew going in that the Path would need a lot more GM legwork than I did for Legacy of Fire, but I've ended up putting more work into it than my homebrew campaigns. Which just feels odd, but hopefully has a big payoff.

Just finished Racing to Ruin, which in hindsight I should have put a lot more work into than I did, as I've been prepping for City of Seven Spears and Vaults of Madness since day one. After actually reading CoSS all the way through, I think it has a ton of potential, and have high hopes for it. At first I thought it would be a banal grind in vegepygmy genocide, but with the faction strife, the discoveries, conquering the districts, serpentfolk skulduggery (I took Yarzoth as the recurring villain), the big ruined city sandbox, there's a lot to work with.

Jenner2057 wrote:
- Depending how you're handling mysteries, consider setting a max of 8 to 10 in a district. I have them on slips of paper and hand them out and think I had about 40 (combined some and added some more foreshadowing for books 4-6)

Could you by any chance post these discovery handouts or give some examples? I love the idea, and started coming up with my own, but am kind of curious what you did with them.

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Sure. I'll Spoiler them for lengths. I added in the stuff about Savith's final fight with Ydersius as a foreshadow of book 6 to the Mystery table in CoSS. The others are snippets taken from the adventure.

Played it very fast and loose with which mystery I handed out. Sometimes I'd have the PCs roll and just move down to the next one they hadn't found (so there were no repeat mysteries) and then marking it off (thus the lines on the chart so I could X them as they're found). Or if they had metioned they were looking for specific information ("Who is that strange woman in the magical statue in the Artisan district? We're trying to find information on her.") I'd allow them a History roll to see if they could find the specific mystery. Anyway:

Chart:

Mysteries

__ 1. story of founding of Saventh Yhi
__ 2. about the spears
__ 3. spears can be activated
__ 4. decline of Saventh Yhi
5. legend of seventh defeating Ydersius
__ A
__ B
__ C
__ D
__ 6. existence of an underworld below the city
7. background of one area
__ D. military
__ E. merchant
__ F. government
__ G. residential
__ J. artesian
__ K. farming
__ L. temple
8. a spear’s active/passive effects
__ D. military
__ E. merchant
__ F. government
__ G. residential
__ J. artesian
__ K. farming
__ L. temple
9. How to activate a spear
__ D. military
__ E. merchant
__ F. government
__ G. residential
__ J. artesian
__ K. farming
__ L. temple
__ 10. The existence of the Radiant Muse
11. Azlanti gods
__ A.
__ B.
__ C.

Mysteries to discover:

1
The city of Saventh-Yhi was built nearly 11,000 years ago, during the twilight years of the golden age of Azlant before Earthfall and the onset of the Age of Darkness. Constructed as a tribute to the Azlanti heroine Savith above the site where she defeated the snake god Ydersius, the city was constructed to honor her sacrifice.
In each of Saventh-Yhi’s seven districts, a stone ziggurat symbolizing one of the honest virtues of Azlanti rule was erected, and atop each of these sites the ancients placed a spire-like monument. These seven obelisks came to symbolize the city’s skyline, and even before the doom that was to come, they gave the city its enduring nickname—the City of Seven Spears.

2
The seven spears of Saventh-Yhi are more than mere landmarks. They posses powerful magic of their own—it is within these seven monoliths that the anti-entropic magic that protects the city is housed, as well as the nondetection and mirage arcana defenses. Further, each of these spears is infused with still-potent magic from the city’s creation, magic intended to aid and encourage each
district to function efficiently in its assigned specialty. These seven magical themes, linked to the seven virtues of rule (which, in ancient Thassilon far to the north, were corrupted into seven deadly sins claimed by that realm’s ruthless Runelords), continue to shape and mold the districts today.

3
The seven spears of Saventh-Yhi infuse each district with minor but unusual magical effects at all times. Furthermore, the spears can be “activated” if the one can decipher the means and conduct the appropriate ritual. Each spear is associated with a different ritual and once activated will produce a more pronounced effect over its district. Only one spear can be activated at any one time unless all spears are activated in the appropriate order. Then the might of the spears can be unleashed.

4
Yet as the Age of Darkness grew near, not all of the citizens of Saventh-Yhi remained blissfully unaware that their days were numbered. Some among the city began to receive visions and read dire omens. One priest in particular became convinced that Saventh-Yhi was nearing a great doom. As the pall of fear expanded, the leaders of Saventh-Yhi built underground vaults into which they began securing their most prized belongings. Even had Earthfall not finished the job this growing paranoia had begun, Saventh-Yhi was hurtling toward an end. Yet Earthfall did come, and it hastened that end. The impacts of countless falling stars upon Golarion caused panic in the great city, and it did not take long at all for Saventh-Yhi to die.

5A
Savith knew that it would take the combined might of all the neighboring lands to defeat the rising danger deep within Ilmurea. She gathered a multiracial coalition of ancient tribes for her army to battle the serpentfolk. From these tribes and from amongst her own people, she chose but a handful of the greatest and most trusted companions to accompany her on the mission to slay Ydersius himself. To accompany her was a mighty wizard of Azlant, an Azlanti true follower of Desna, a general from the nearby Cyclops kingdom, a lizardfolk chieftain from their Nation and the king of an ancient tribe of human jungle warriors.

5B
While the warriors of Azlant and their allies battled the serpent people in the darkness of Ilmurea, Savith, arrayed in armor of shining gold, went forth with her allies to face the snake-god Ydersius himself in his innermost sanctum. One by one, her companions fell or were lost amongst the pitched fighting through the twists and turns of the sanctum until only Savith herself arrived to face the god alone. After an epic struggle, Savith beheaded the Father of Serpents, casting his mindless body into the depths of the earth and hurling his still-living head into a lake of fire. But even in defeat, Ydersius had his revenge, for his virulent poisons ravaged Savith’s body. The serpentfolk empire was broken forever, but at a terrible cost, for Savith, the greatest of us all, was dead.

5C
Though she protected herself with magic from the poisons, there was no stopping the virulent venom of the Serpent Father. Savith’s life was claimed by the god’s threefold venom – his noxious breath, venomous fangs, and even the toxic blood spilled from his wounds. Even the legendary intelligent sword she wielded to pierce the snake-god’s armored scales and overcome his unstoppable regenerative powers was consumed by the unearthly acidic venom, but not before stealing the snake-god’s head.

5D
So it was that Savith beheaded the serpent god Ydersius. His head plummeted deep into the underworld lost forever. But the body refused to die. The body stumbles through the underworld, doomed to wreck havoc as the Headless Lord that the serpentfolk still revere. Some adherents to his faith search after his ashen, broken skull, seeking to reunite it with the flailing, still-spurting titan-form of his body, wandering mindlessly somewhere in the lowest reaches of the Darklands.

6
Finally, the spears of Saventh-Yhi hold one additional secret—the actual purpose for which the ancients originally built them. Each spear stands poised above a key location in the ruined city of Ilmurea, deep in the Darklands below. The architects of Saventh-Yhi knew that at some point in the future the serpentfolk could well gain the upper hand in the region once again, and thus they built Saventh-Yhi’s seven spears as a weapon—with the proper rituals and magical triggers, these seven spears can strike seven key sites in the city below

7D
The military district was the district of righteous anger. Here, the central spear influenced those within the district to be more intimidating, warlike, and aggressive, to aid not only in the training of new soldiers but to encourage the right temperament for warlords and commanders.

7E
The mercantile district was devoted to the virtue of wealth—not only to the process of making money, but the process of spreading riches to others. The city treasury was located here, along with numerous guild headquarters and an expansive marketplace along the lakeshore. Yet the preservative magic of this region has been failing more quickly than that of neighboring districts, and a significant portion of the area has subsided back into the lake, including most of the old lakeshore markets. Looters emptied the treasuries in the city’s final days so long ago.

7F
The central island region was chosen to house the city’s central government, and built a spear infused with the virtue of honest pride to watch over the region and to keep its inhabitants honest and dedicated to the city’s health. Unfortunately, even these lengths failed to save Saventh-Yhi from the panic that gripped it as its days grew short.

7G
The residential district once stood as the housing area for all of Saventh-Yhi, dedicated to the virtue of rest. In a decision that caused some scandal at the time, this district did not receive the full range of preservation magic treatment, under the theory that the majority of the buildings being relatively small meant that it would be easier to simply make repairs manually when needed. As a result, while the district’s buildings themselves might mostly remain, they’ve been all but overgrown by the encroaching jungle.

7J
Inspired by the Spear of Eager Striving, Azlanti craftsmen worked in the artesian district to craft the finest examples of their trade—statuary, art, jewelry, literature, music, and dance. Many came to the artisan district in search of a muse—and in some cases, finding that muse was much more literal. During Saventh-Yhi’s height, the patron deity of this district was none other than Shelyn, goddess of art and beauty, and her interests in seeing the city’s culture and art flourish were guided and represented by several powerful lillends, who each symbolized a different form of art.

7K
The southern half of the city’s farming district originally consisted of numerous fields tended by a small number of farmers who lived in the buildings to the north (or on the rim overlooking the lands to the far south). Over time, the farmlands, which were not shielded under the city’s preservative magics, subsided and turned into swampland and a large lake.

7L
Once the first district that visitors to Saventh-Yhi beheld, the temple district was also where the majority of the city’s temples were located. Not every deity in the large pantheon worshiped by the ancient Azlanti had a temple here, but many did.

8D
The military district watches over the northeast corner of the city and is guarded by the Spear of Righteous Anger. Even when the spear is passive, all creatures in this district gain a renewed strength of cause (+2 bonus on Intimidate checks.)
Once the Spear of Righteous Anger is activated, all creatures in the district gain a renewed vigor to strike their enemies (+2 bonus on all melee attack rolls)

8E
To the northwest is the merchant’s district and the Spear of Wealth. The spear allows creatures in this district gain a smoothness of tongue (+2 bonus on Diplomacy checks)
Once the Spear of Wealth is activated, all creatures in this district gain a sharp eye for determining the worth of items (+6 bonus on Appraise checks and on Spellcraft checks made to identify magic items)

8F
The government district is situated on an island in the center of the lake where the Spear of Honest Pride resides. All creatures in this district gain an insight into the character of others (+2 bonus on Sense Motive checks)
Once the Spear of Honest Pride is activated, all creatures in this district gain a surge in willpower (+2 bonus on Will saves)

8G
On the east side of the lake is the residential district. The Spear of Rest gives all creatures in this district a keen eye for detail (+2 bonus on Perception checks.)
Once the Spear of Rest is activated, all creatures in this district gain the benefits of a full night of rest after sleeping for only 2 hours, and during this period of rest, they heal damage as if they had undergone complete bed rest for an entire day and night (recovering twice their character level in hit points.)

8J
To the southwest is the artesian district. It is guided by the Spear of Eager Striving. The spear gives all creatures in this district an increased eye for fine arts (+2 bonus on Craft and Perform checks)
Once the Spear of Eager Striving is activated, the time required to craft magic items is reduced by 20%, to a minimum of 1 day (round fractional days down).

8K
To the south is the farming district. All creatures in this district gain a connection to the land (+2 bonus on Survival checks), blessed be the Spear of Abundance.
Once the Spear of Abundance is activated, all creatures in the district are sustained with nourishment (as if wearing a ring of sustenance), and receive a blessing of health (+4 bonus on all saving throws against disease, insanity, or poison)

8L
To the southeast is the temple district watched by the Spear of Fertility. All creatures in this district gain an insight into the hearts of others while in this district (+2 bonus on Sense Motive checks)
Once the Spear of Fertility is activated, all spellcasting creatures in this district can cast spells (whether arcane or divine) with increased potency (spell effects manifest at +1 caster level)

9D
To activate the Spear of Righteous Anger, anoint the stones of the ziggurat with the lifeblood of a powerful creature (slay a creature of CR 10 or higher), channel energy into the spear (requires one use of channel energy from a cleric who worships a deity associated with combat or wrath), or perform a 1-hour ritual of mock combat before the spear (requires a DC 25 Intimidate check).

9E
To activate the Spear of Wealth, sprinkle the stones of the ziggurat with at least 50 gp worth of powdered gemstones, channel energy into the spear (requires one use of channel energy from a cleric who worships a deity associated with trade or wealth), or perform a 1-hour ritual involving counting money and polishing jewelry (requires a DC 25 Appraise check).

9F
To activate the Spear of Honest Pride, gather at least 50 allies atop the ziggurat to pledge their loyalty to one creature who is currently touching the spear, channel energy into the spear (requires one use of channel energy from a cleric who worships a deity associated with government or nobility), or perform a 1-hour recitation of ancient Azlanti laws (requires a DC 25 Perform [oratory] check)

9G
To activate the Spear of Rest, magically heal a total of at least 100 points of damage to a number of creatures within a single minute while standing atop the ziggurat, channel energy into the spear (requires one use of channel energy from a cleric who worships a deity associated with community or dreams), or perform a 1-hour meditation ritual during which you remain absolutely still and silent (requires a DC 25 Stealth check)

9J
To activate the Spear of Eager Striving, use bardic performance (any effect) for 10 rounds in a single day while standing atop the ziggurat (these rounds need not be consecutive), channel energy into the spear (requires one use of channel energy from a cleric who worships a deity associated with art or crafting), or perform a 1-hour ritual of creating a work of art atop the ziggurat (requires a DC 25 Craft or Perform check).

9K
To activate the Spear of Abundance, host a grand feast upon the ziggurat in which no fewer than 50 people are fed well, channel energy into the spear (requires one use of channel energy from a cleric who worships a deity associated with farming or hunting), or perform a 1-hour ritual of planting seeds in the soil-filled grooves of the ziggurat (requires a DC 25 Profession [farmer] or Survival check).

9L
To activate the Spear of Fertility, lead a mass prayer service in honor one of the gods of Saventh-Yhi for at least 50 people (these people need not be worshipers of the deity, but must remain quiet and attentive for the duration of the service), channel energy into the spear (requires one use of channel energy from a cleric who worships one of the deities of Saventh-Yhi), or perform a 1-hour ritual of prayer and contemplation to any deity (requires a DC 25 Knowledge [religion] check).

10
Yet when the citizens of Saventh-Yhi began to go mad, a doom punctuated by Earthfall, the luxury of having time for art vanished from not just this city but the whole world.
Shelyn’s faith—and that of many other gods—suffered greatly during this time, and many of her followers went mad, including the lillend muses of Saventh-Yhi. Today, only one of these ancient lillends survives a creature known as theRadiant Muse.

11A
Varied were the Gods worshipped in ancient Saventh-Yhi. Among their number were counted:

Abadar: Abadar’s incarnation in Azlant focused more on his role as a god of cities and wealth than as a god of law.

Groetus: Imagery of Groetus seems almost as if it was added as a late addition in most places it appears—he was not worshiped in Saventh-Yhi until the end drew near.

Pharasma: Pharasma was primarily seen as the patron of prophecies—many of her images in Saventh-Yhi appear to have been defaced long ago.

Achaekek: In Azlant’s time, the Mantis God was worshiped more as a god of monsters and natural disasters than as a god of assassinations.

11B
Varied were the Gods worshipped in ancient Saventh-Yhi. Among their number were counted:

Nurgal: A demon lord associated with warfare and the sun, Nurgal’s worship dropped dramatically during the Age of Darkness.

Amaznen: Amaznen was the primary god of magic in Azlant, a deity whose name and worship were strictly forbidden in ancient Thassilon and who died during Earthfall.

Shelyn: Shelyn was seen as a muse to the Azlanti; most of her temples are found in the artisan district rather than in the temple district.

Curchanus: A now dead deity of travel, beasts, and endurance, slain at some point after Earthfall by Lamashtu.

11C
Varied were the Gods worshipped in ancient Saventh-Yhi. Among their number were counted:

Acavna: A goddess of battle and the moon who vanished not long before Earthfall.

Desna: Desna was worshiped primarily as a goddess of the stars in ancient Azlant.

Zura: The demon lord of blood and cannibalism was not openly worshiped in Saventh-Yhi, but hidden shrines to her still exist in remote ruins


Awesome mate. I'll be using it. thanks for putting it up.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

You're very welcome!

One thing I would have done different is to have the PCs "roll" and automatically give them the Radiant Muse mystery (number 10 on my list) as their first mystery.

When they finally ran into her, they hadn't discovered that mystery yet and it was kind of a "Huh? What's a lillend doing here?" moment. If there had been a bit of foreshadowing for her I think it would have been better.

Live and learn. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks, those are awesome. I'll be cribbing those and adding in a few of my own, to foreshadow some group-specific stuff.

Jenner2057 wrote:
One thing I would have done different is to have the PCs "roll" and automatically give them the Radiant Muse mystery (number 10 on my list) as their first mystery.

Good idea; I was planning on giving the party that one early on, before they get to her district, to try and indicate that not everything in the city is out to eat them.

Taldor

Patrick McDade wrote:

BQ,

Finally, you're going to need A LOT of maps. I can't believe how little maps are given for what should have been a very, very cartography rich module. I bought the map-pack hoping that it would help and was sorely disappointed. That is the first product I bought from Paizo that I genuinely wanted my money back.

Definitely agree with this point. The mappack was a real flop for me. This is not what I thought I was buying and will thus no longer buy the map packs for the APs.

Fred

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
admiral.ironbombs wrote:
Thanks, those are awesome. I'll be cribbing those and adding in a few of my own, to foreshadow some group-specific stuff.

Hey thanks! And when I'd first sat down with this AP, I had considered adding group specific stuff to the mysteries too, just to help motivate the PCs to go to the city. Like:

1) an ancient curse one of the PCs family members was suffering from that the Azlanti knew how to cure (cure revealed in a mystery). Or:
2) a family relic of Azlanti origin with a hidden secret (secret ability and activation method revealed in a mystery).

Something like that. But none of my PCs backgrounds really ended up supporting those ideas. Plus my PCs were just fine with the motivation of glory and wealth for finding the city (largely driven by my scholar/Pathfinder character leading the group. That helped)

But glad your group has some group-specific stuff to add! That's awesome!

admiral.ironbombs wrote:
Good idea; I was planning on giving the party that one early on, before they get to her district, to try and indicate that not everything in the city is out to eat them.

This was a struggle I had early on as well. The idea that some of the tribes CAN be talked with wasn't immediately evident. It didn't help that my PCs went from the Merchant district (with no dominant tribe) to the Government district (with the serpentfolk that have a zealous hatred of humans) and saw the Government faction waging war against the charou-ki. This gave them a slanted view of the valley that everything here would have to be fought.

An effort to overcome that was part of what motivated me to have the Consortium ally with the boggards and Mantis ally with the troglodytes. To show them that genocide against the non-humans wouldn't be required.

And, though it's not so evident now, the PCs may very well WANT these tribes around in book 6 to form an army. Slaughtering them all now could make book 6 much more difficult. Shrug. Wanted to at least give them the option.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Concordia/Patrick, I feel bad that you guys felt gypped on the map folio. Given the sandbox nature of half the modules, those poster maps are a godsend for tracking where the PCs are heading; I've got the Saventh-Yhi one in a cheapo frame and I can't wait to flop down that sucker next week and tell the players "Alright, here you are, now what are you doing."

Though I know what you mean about lack of encounter maps; I'm getting tired of cranking out 3-5 encounter locales off the top of my head and scrawling them on my friend's MegaMat every week. I really need to invest in some gaming paper and map ahead of time, or break down and buy some relevant GameMastery packs.

Lack of maps is a huge weakness of this Path and part of the reason it's so GM intensive. I love maps, and the Serpent Skull modules are so mapless that they feel empty a lot of the time.

Jenner2057 wrote:
Something like that. But none of my PCs backgrounds really ended up supporting those ideas. Plus my PCs were just fine with the motivation of glory and wealth for finding the city (largely driven by my scholar/Pathfinder character leading the group. That helped)

That's a shame, really. I have a Shoanti druid who headed to the Mwangi following a totem-vision. So I started feeding him more visions of shadows and serpents to foreshadow/flesh out the background.

Also had a Shoanti oracle heading to Sargava with a Gorumskagat to spread the faith, but the player dropped (work-related), which was a real shame... I had planned a lot around his character for Eleder, but he dropped before they got off the Shiv.

(Not sure why, but the Shoanti were the ones with detailed character backgrounds and who roleplayed the most. The rest are all gold and glory adventurers, which didn't give much to work with.)

Jenner2057 wrote:

This was a struggle I had early on as well. The idea that some of the tribes CAN be talked with wasn't immediately evident. It didn't help that my PCs went from the Merchant district (with no dominant tribe) to the Government district (with the serpentfolk that have a zealous hatred of humans) and saw the Government faction waging war against the charou-ki. This gave them a slanted view of the valley that everything here would have to be fought.

An effort to overcome that was part of what motivated me to have the Consortium ally with the boggards and Mantis ally with the troglodytes. To show them that genocide against the non-humans wouldn't be required.

And, though it's not so evident now, the PCs may very well WANT these tribes around in book 6 to form an army. Slaughtering them all now could make book 6 much more difficult. Shrug. Wanted to at least give them the option.

Since I know my players read the forums...:

I made a few hints that the natives (and possibly other factions) could be "coerced or intimidated to serve the PCs," but since the party lacks a real diplomacy character, I'm kind of curious to what they'll do. Push comes to shove, I'll go to town tweaking; I'm not real interested in the grind of "Slay 769 one-hit-die vegepygmies to claim district x." Plus district genocide would push the native groups to get help from, say, a rival faction who'd just love to explore without worrying about native attacks.

Having the other factions ally with the natives is a fantastic idea, but I did't want to start demarcating what districts are working with the party's nemeses (e.g., are prema-hostile) ahead of time, so whichever groups of natives the players start pounding on will find welcome allies in the Red Mantis and Aspis Consortium. Possibly also the Pathfinders given the PCs' relationship with them so far.

I've been planning to amp up the faction strife and intrigue, between the natives, players, and other factions, so multiple districts will eventually run red. Red Mantis hit squads, serpentfolk skulduggery directed by Yarzoth, groups discovering and activating their spears, maybe a trog rebellion. Lot of ideas, playing it by year.

Also hoping (knock on wood) to expand the campaign out to level 20 using the "continuing the campaign" material in Sanctum/Serpent God, and when the enemy armies rear their heads, the players could sure use a lot of bipedal humanoid thugs to make armies out of. My guess is most of the exploration factions will be obliterated by that point, or will have merged/been captured. And if the group beats down the boggards and troglodytes they'll be in a real tight spot when the serpentfolk or Gorilla King starts marching in.

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