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RPG Superstar 2015

Rise of the Runelords VS Curse of the Crimson Throne (YAWAP)


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion


This is Yet Another Which AP thread. I've read most the other threads and from them I've narrowed my choices to RotRL and CotCT. I like a mix of action settings: urban, wilderness and dungeon. I like that CotCT is an urban adventure involving intrigue and RotRL seems to have a lot of positive reviews.

Having read the start of CotCT I get why everyone likes it so much. In particular I liked...

Spoiler for Curse of the Crimson Throne Chapter 1: Edge of Anarchy:
... the Shingle's Chase especially the incorporation of skills in the pseudo-combat encounter. Are there similar cool bits in Runelords?
... the introduction of a number of NPCs who seem like they will play larger roles later in the story.
... the level of details given to the NPCs, even minor ones.

Since I haven't read Runelords, I don't have as much of a sense as to why it is so popular. I'd love to hear more about why you liked the AP so much. Spoilers welcome as I always end up GMing in my groups.

If you've played both could you contrast them for me?

Thanks!

PS Please don't suggest a different AP...it's taken me too long to narrow it done this far!! My brain might pop.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter 2013

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

Runelords is popular for two reasons.

1 - It was the first (fourth really, but first out from under WotC)

2 - Good individual adventures. The volumes by themselves are great, they just have little to nothing to do with each other.

If you want a stron plot through fifteen levels that the PCs will really engage with, go with Crimson Throne.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Runelords is considered to be classic AP material:

Spoiler:
there are lots of goblins, giants, dragons and the plot involves defeating an evil wizard. Its also features some darker themes (serial killers, inbred hillbilly ogres) and some over-the-top, gratuitous violence which may or may not suit your gaming tastes.

My group is now into book 5 and overall it has been a very good AP. Not a great one, but we've had lots of fun with it so far. I have just recently read through CotCT and I'm really anxious to play this one. IMO, it is better than Runelords but I say that without actually having played it. Like you, I really enjoy the political intrigue and urban elements involved in it. Needless to say this is next on my campaign list.

Either AP is a sure thing, but if you can only choose one then go with Crimson Throne.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Both APs are great, but Curse of the Crimson Throne pulls ahead IMHO. It's more coherent, has more memorable NPCs and has the best dungeon crawl EVAH (Skeletons of Scarwall).


I think folks hit the nail on the head. RotR is very varied, which as a GM, I love. However, if your players arent paying attention, or actively trying to investigate, a lot of the overarching plot is lost on them until around book 3 or 4. I've run RotR up to Skinsaw Murders (and a short lived romp through Burnt Offerings here on the boards which I totally dropped the ball on... sorry to my players! :P) and played through a good deal of Edge of Anarchy in a similarly short-lived PbP. It's been some time since I've read the paths, but I've spent a lot of time lurking the Runelords forms, and I consider myself one of its many fanboys. Given that I haven't read CotCT myself I can't really advise you on GMing that. However, I can give you my experiences with the AP and some of my favourite encounters in the first few books.

Play both, if you get the chance! Otherwise? Whatever one you think you, as the GM, can do the most justice to. If you love playing crazy goblins, hillbilly ogres, small-town gossips, haunted houses, thoroughly fleshed out villains and the ocassional centuries old living relic, Runelords is for you. If you work best with a tighter plot, fleshed out ALLIES as well as villains and a fantastic urban setting (seriously, Korvosa is great) you'll do CotCT justice for sure. Others more familiar with the path would be more qualified trying to sell it, though. I've managed to keep spoiler free!

First off... if you like the Shingles encounter, stick it into Runelords! The Magnimar sections of Skinsaw Murders need some SERIOUS fleshing out, imo (and they'll likely be getting some in the new hardcover and magnimar book :D) and if you can't run both campaigns, why not milk both books for the best of both worlds?

My experience with Runelords had a lot of great, cinematic encounters, combat or otherwise. It's up to the GM though to bring them from the page from the table, and it's quite easy to see one or two of them fall flat without some prep work and some thought about the pacing.

Spoiler:
For instance, the glassworks in Burnt Offerings #1 is, on paper, a pseudo-dungeon. It has a good 20 empty rooms and two combat encounters and a very bloody fate for a minor NPC. I made the mistake of treating this, Thistletop, and the Foxglove Manor of book 2 as room-by-room affairs, having never run a dungeon before in my life. If I'd made them more organic, with monsters reacting to the PCs movements, not trying to force my PCs into each and every room to fight easily mopped up encounters, I think they would've been a lot more cinematic.

In the glassworks, forinstance. I made the mistake of not making perception checks for the boss (Tsuto) downstairs and turning a really chaotic and exciting environment (goblins throwing glass, trying to shove the PCs into glassburning furnaces and a skylight to crash down to) into one of many goblin mop-ups. My PCs offed them in two rounds, tops, and the encounter was very forgettable. In retrospect I should have doubled their numbers or brought Tsuto upstairs to join the fray.

However, it's a great AP for cool encounters. The storming of an island-fortress in book 1, a flight through a cornfield against undead scarecrows in book 2(my players advised me to not, ever, refer to the monsters as "the ghoul". They told me to preserve the mystery to up the creepy factor. My players know a lot more about GMing than I did at the time.) Book 2 also introduced the haunt mechanics, which made for a really creepy atmosphere for Foxglove Manor (but it really relies on the GM to make the most out of it). They might be old news now with the GM guide and Carrion Crown been and gone, but they're some of my favourite non-combat encounters in the books. They work much like traps, only they're purely supernatural and did a great job of playing with my PCs minds.

On a different note, some of the early encounters of Book 1 are among the funniest (and darkest) things I've seen at my table. Give "Rats in the Basement" and "The Monster in the Closet" a read.

Later on, your PCs will protect their beloved town from the first adventure against giants, wizards and a bloody great red dragon in a long, multiround battle. It's a hell of a lot of work, but if you pull it off your PCs should remember these encounters for years to come.

Whew. I hope this helps a fellow GM out. I might be able to dig out some of my notes for the early combats that might help you run them smoother. They aren't much, but every little bit helps.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter 2013

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

CotCT has a lot of great memorable npcs the players can befriend. Sabine, Kressida, Vencarlo, Trinia, Neolandus, spiky elf girl, Thousand Bones...

Runelords has...Shalelu and Ameiko


Coridan wrote:
Runelords has...Shalelu and Ameiko

Aldern, Belor Hemlock, Orik Vancaskerkin, Shayliss Vinder and Jakardos would all like a word.

Loved Kressidia and Vencarlo though. Thousand Bones always looked awesome, too. I don't expect I'll ever get a chance to play the Shoanti bits.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

And CoCT has some great villains,

Spoiler:
The Queen of course, Plague Doctors, Rolth turned into a great recurring villain in my campaign, the Arkonas, the Red Mantis, Cinderlander, distrustful Shoanti, oh and Kazavaon (sort of).


Thanks to everyone for the input!!!

I decided to go with Curse of the Crimson Throne in the end. Hopefully one day I'll also get a chance to play or gm Runelords.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Orion, some advice for running CotCT:

Foreshadow
Give one quick read to the whole thing. The stories are very related and there are some great opportunities for foreshadowing.

Spoiler:

- Rolth: have wanted posters or rumours for a crazy necromancer or some corpse stealer
- Abadar Priest: Make the priest of Abadar befriend the party on the 1st adventure.
- Grau Soldado: Also
- Rumors and news of tension with the Shoan-ti
- Glorio Arkona: My players bumped into him on the market
- Raktvana Dagger: Make it seem magicaly but misterious. The player that finds it keeps finding it out amongst his gear, even if thrown away. Spooked the party
- Pilts Swatsel: He tried to hire one of the PCs to perform some VERY deviant and kinky acts on stage for his theater.
- Salvatore Scream: Mention him amongst the nobles as an extraordinary new artist.

and any other you can think about...

Read up on the city

Spoiler:

You'll spend more than half of the AP on this city, it's also very well done with lot's of interesting places and people. Give your players the run of it, sandbox style. Specially between missions on the first adventure.

They should get to know the Shingles, how dangerous old korvosa is, some of the nobles (the one that gets their house turned into a zombie masque ball on the second adv.). The acadamae and some of their students. The Sable company, the Palace... etc.

You have great material and space between missions/adventures to make it a MEMORABLE city.

The Queen

Spoiler:

Try to REALLY sell the Queen as a victim, and make the heores try to help her and become her saviours. She can easily fool the party with magic and skill (dont' let a bad die roll give her up, just change the result). Having the party get attached to the beautiful charismatic Queen, and then start doubting her intentions and finally realizing she IS the Big Bad and they are on her sh*t list was one of the high points of the first 2 Adv for me

BlackJack

Spoiler:

The Blackjack subplot is GREAT. If you have any swashbuckler characters you should try to get Vencarlo close to them, maybe offer fencing lessons (they have a temporary +1 to attack on the week they take lessons, or they gain a feat with limited uses per day or any other custom, not very unbalanced perk)

The party should hear rumors about Blackjack.

Vencarlo is too obvious candidate for Blackjack, but there is something you can do for this:

Description: Describe Blackjack as tall and long of limbs, and Vencarlo as shorter and more powerfully built, or vice-versa. In my game, part of the Blackjack gear is an enchanted cowl that works as a hat of disguise giving the owner the physical appeareance and voice of "Blackjack"

The arm: In my game, vencarlo is missing half of one of his arms from wounds of his duel with Grau. He hasn't cured it yet, but he has a magic prosthesis that he uses as Blackjack. This really threw my party of his lead.

Sighting: Have teh players see "a misterious dark figure jumping from roof to roof" while on the presence of Vencarlo (who smiles cryptically) or immediately after/before seeing him.

You don't have to say it's Blackjack, as its not (its just a common thief escaping with loot), but it will lead the party to believe they saw the misterious Hero.

This way I managed to keep them guessing about Blackjacks identity until they found the uniform at Vencarlo's on book 3. They were sure that he was one of Vencarlo's students, so flesh them up a little if they reach the academy

Ah, also when at the floating casino, the players got offered to play a gambling card game, where they have to add 21, called "Batman", that cracked everyone up.

The Harrow Deck
Truly a great prop, specially on the first adventures. Buy one deck and learn how to use it.

Spoiler:

You can do amazing feats with a preared reading and a little legerdemains, just pre-stack the cards and "shuffle" them in a way that some of the cards you want are sure to come up. Then give a spookily accurate reading of the players past and present and future.
(practice some card tricks)

HQ
Headcuarters. The butchery is a great place for the PCs to set up a base of operations in the city.

The NPCs
Lot's of opportunity for social and romantic involvement with the PCs, that really ties them to the city.

That's it for now. Let me know if it's useful for you, and any questions about how my CotCT went are welcome.


Can't agree with P0L more!

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

When I ran CotCT, they took over the boardwalk. I nabbed the rules from
Second Darkness and modded them a bit so they could build it up.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

CotCT does have a horrible section...Shoanti-pointless-railroad-journey which my players and I thought was just rubbish compared with the rest, which was pretty cool.

RotRL is huge in all sorts of ways.

If you have the time to put in the extra effort for your players I would say CotCT is your best option, but if you want an easier ride as the DM then RotRL is the better option.


I can get that it's a bit railorady, but my players played it for laughs. And all the quests and trials were interesting. Also between them there was some great interaction with the various barbarian tribes.

- The rivalry and respect with Krojun and his party
- Helping the moon maidens and partying with them after cleaning the temple, only to learn that one was niece to the truthsayer and having to marry one of them later.
- Getting the Mark of Desna (a colorful butterfly tatoo that appeared on the lower back of the ranger, he was pissed, everyone laughed at it)
- Dune-like taming of the Worm, with great cinematic action (the plan was to have it eat a globe-of-invulnerabilitied wizard gnome, who would dimension door out of it, but the idiot ranger shot it for a hundred hp and ended up getting swallowed. So the wizard made the worm swallow him, found the ranger, and dimension doored both of them out)
- Grueling test of resistance, holding the sun-totems (thanks to careful use of belts of strength, and switching damaged totems, everyone passed it BUT the barbarian, who rolled consecutive 1's)
- Epic final battle with gargolyes and red-mantises and cinderlander

I agree it's the weakest link so far on this AP, but I think we made it work.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We just didn't like the structure.

To get X you need to see Y, Y will ask for Z and Z will want some cake, the cake is in the belly of a big gribbly and the big gribbly can only be found if you make scones for the war-chief...

man, talk about RAILROAD! lol.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter 2013

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

We enjoyed history of ashes far more than scarwall. Ashes had some awesome rp moments whereas scarwall was just a frustrating slog. We were very happy to get back to the city afterwards.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Coridan wrote:
We enjoyed history of ashes far more than scarwall. Ashes had some awesome rp moments whereas scarwall was just a frustrating slog. We were very happy to get back to the city afterwards.

I think it was the blatent railroadyness that we disliked. I agree that it did have some good rp moments though.

Scarwall, as you say, was a bit of a slog to be honest.

Hmm, I think I'm going to vote for Runelords!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Maps Subscriber

I have only played through Burnt Offerings and the Skin Saw Murders, in Rise of the Rune Lords.

Also I have only played through Edge of Anarchy and Seven Days to the Grave.

I enjoyed both adventure paths, they were with different GMs and a different group of players.

I think the posters up thread have done a good job contrasting the two adventure paths. I guess the two questions i would ask is a) what do I like, and b) what do my players like.

I think you will enjoy both of them,
Elyas


a bit of creativity, how about a bit of rope and 2 daggers... and a thumper with some alchemy and someone skilled in animal handling. Then RIDE the worm into the camp!

You can call me Muaddib :p

...then some explosive to blow up the city wall, and lead the freme.. err.. shoanti to rule Korvosa.


ikki3520 wrote:

a bit of creativity, how about a bit of rope and 2 daggers... and a thumper with some alchemy and someone skilled in animal handling. Then RIDE the worm into the camp!

You can call me Muaddib :p

...then some explosive to blow up the city wall, and lead the freme.. err.. shoanti to rule Korvosa.

Luckily, none of my players read Dune...


stuart haffenden wrote:

We just didn't like the structure.

To get X you need to see Y, Y will ask for Z and Z will want some cake, the cake is in the belly of a big gribbly and the big gribbly can only be found if you make scones for the war-chief...

man, talk about RAILROAD! lol.

There is a great word for this in game design: a "foozle".

That is all.

Dark Archive

Coridan wrote:

Runelords is popular for two reasons.

1 - It was the first (fourth really, but first out from under WotC)

2 - Good individual adventures. The volumes by themselves are great, they just have little to nothing to do with each other.

If you want a strong plot through fifteen levels that the PCs will really engage with, go with Crimson Throne.

I have been running ROTR for 2 years now and have read through both the original version and the Anniversary edition of all the adventures several times. I would agree with the above poster that ROTR adventures are pretty solid on their own, but they do have some issues when it comes to story continuity across all 6 parts. Many of the adventures suffer from the same problem; upon completion of the module it isn't always exactly clear where to go next or there is not a strong logical tie-in to the next module in the series. When they made certain changes in the Anniversary edition of ROTR, it was clear they were trying to address this flaw.

That being said, ROTR is very rich in its detail and in its backstory. If you want to run it right, then you are going to need to do alot of research on the backstory and the region to make sure you tell the story in a way that makes sense.

All in all , ROTR is a good Adventure Path, but I don't recommend it for 1st time DM's due to the amount of out-of-game research that is required to really run it right. The lack of story links between adventures will also require that you as DM come up with creative story links of your own, which is perfectly OK if you have the time. But if you dont have time, I recommend a more straight forward adventure path like COTC.


One really cool thing I added to my CotCT campaign was drawing up character sheets for Cressida, Grau, Vencarlo and Ishani.

spoiler:
I also wrote up a couple of "mini-adventures" staring them as the Korvosa resistance forming up to book-end the 4th and 5th adventures so the PC's still have a sense of what's going on in the city even though they're spending a lot of time not in it, and giving them an extra sense of connection to those 4 important NPC's


Hi everyone,

I am kicking around running either Curse of the Crimson Throne or Skull and Shackles. I tend to prefer GMing material with memorable NPCs and layered plotlines. I've played through Crimson Throne up to Scarwall, where half our group moved out of state.

So, a couple of questions:

Crimson Throne vs. Skull and Shackles? Which one offers more freedom for the players to set their own agenda and blaze their own trail? I really want to hand my players the reins knowing that the material will back me up.

How difficult is it to strip out the standard-issue dungeon-crawling of the two Paths? In Crimson Throne specifically, how much of the campaign is lost if I really strip down books 4 and 5?

Thanks,
-Matt


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The first 3 books of CotCT are the best that Paizo has released in my opinion.
Not too fond of 4&5, but the sixth book is really good aswell.

RotRL is classic fantasy, save a small town, find out something big (and bad) is afoot and defeat it.

Both are good, but I prefer CotCT for the urban stuff in 1-3&6.

@Mattastrophic
I was kicking around the idea of shortening pt 4 of CotCT and removing pt 5 completely, and replacing it with resistance stuff in Korvosa instead.

Sadly I never got the chance since we took an extended break when starting pt 4 and never got around to continuing it.


Gorbacz wrote:
Both APs are great, but Curse of the Crimson Throne pulls ahead IMHO. It's more coherent, has more memorable NPCs and has the best dungeon crawl EVAH (Skeletons of Scarwall).

running the AP now and I can't wait for part 5. Atm, they're finishing off Part 3.


Mattastrophic wrote:

Hi everyone,

I am kicking around running either Curse of the Crimson Throne or Skull and Shackles. I tend to prefer GMing material with memorable NPCs and layered plotlines. I've played through Crimson Throne up to Scarwall, where half our group moved out of state.

So, a couple of questions:

Crimson Throne vs. Skull and Shackles? Which one offers more freedom for the players to set their own agenda and blaze their own trail? I really want to hand my players the reins knowing that the material will back me up.

How difficult is it to strip out the standard-issue dungeon-crawling of the two Paths? In Crimson Throne specifically, how much of the campaign is lost if I really strip down books 4 and 5?

Thanks,
-Matt

Not familiar with Skull but CoCT can accomodate some trail blazing. Like any campaign respond to what the players are interested in and build it up as a significant part of the adventures (if it isn't already). If you have the Guide to Korvosa that gives you plenty of ammunition to go off the rails a bit. That said it is a linear AP and there are signs saying adventure this way.

Book 4 can be stripped down quite easily (just shorten the chain of quests). This adventure gets a lot of flak but when I ran it I played it pretty close to as it was written and my group had a lot of fun (especially with the worm!).

Book 5 like any dungeon crawl just take out the cannon fodder encounters or reduce them. I will say Scarwall if presented right (i.e. find a way to give the players the backstory and info re spirit anchors) is actually one of the most engaging dungeon adventures I've ran. The real danger of dying in the castle makes things very suspenseful for even high level characters. Also Laori and Sial keep things very interesting.

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