|W E Ray|
S P O I L E R S !
I ran a PC through Carrion Crown about a year ago and really enjoyed it -- enough that for nostalgia, I recently browsed over the volumes again and got a bit of a hankerin' to run it.
So I figured I'd ask for advice on how to better connect the individual, nearly stand-alone adventures that make up the CCAP into a Campaign.
From Harrowstone the PCs (at least my group, in our style of gaming) race to Lepistad to follow the Whispering Way cultists only to arrive and are expected to do a volume-long side-trek Trial of the Beast (AKA: The Pathfinder version of Pett's "Styes").
This one seems to be the biggest of the continuity holes in the AP. If I could somehow shoehorn a way to fit The Whispering Way and the exhoneration of The Beast into the same event-based adventure -- maybe having the PCs know The Whispering Way set up the Beast and stole the Seasage Effigy, getting clues to what the Cultists are up to and where they're going by finding evidence about The Beast -- I dunno, something that makes the PCs' search for evidence on The Beast the same as clues for the Cult.
And obviously, whatever that is can be the lead into Broken Moon. I know I want Estovian's vacation lodge to not be a vacation lodge for rich people in the middle of the scariest forest in the scariest place in Golarion (that's just dumb) -- but I can fix that easily enough. I just need a few suggestions of how to make the adventure more obviously a part of the campaign.
For Wake of the Watcher I think I'm okay -- I'll just make it obvious that the Whispering Way Rider was abducted by The Neighbors and the PCs have to deal with the Skum somehow and get the Whispering Way stuff under the water from them.
But I have a real problem with Ashes at Dawn -- well, at the beginning. As PCs we were by now use to the routine of finishing one volume and moving to the next knowing that the adventure would have absolutely nothing to do with The Whispering Way -- we hated it. And we wondered whether Wes did any work at all in connecting the adventures into an actual campaign -- but we accepted it as a design flaw, got over it and enjoyed the asdventures, trusting that at the end of the random, not-Whispering-Way-Campaign adventure, we'd get a haphazardly found clue that would point us back to the Campaign.
Ashes at Dawn was the worst. We awake in Caliphas to news that more murders have occured, look at a crime scene that shows the victims are vampires and a cop who believes vampires don't exist in Ravenloft, er, Ustalov. Then we meet a Dhampir who says he'll get the vampires to tell us about The Whispering Way if we solve who's killing the vampires. That's where the adventure finally made sense.
But I'm at a loss on how to start the adventure.
And obviously Gallowspire is fine as is (and easily the best high-level AP volume Paizo's done yet -- KUDOS to Brandon Hodge for a spectacular adventure!).
Anyway, any advice or suggestions are appreciated.
My party is almost done with Harrowstone, so I'm looking at the first transition in the near future.
My players know that the Whispering Way was somehow involved and did in Professor Lorrimor. But they'll be going to Lepistadt because they agreed to deliver his books there. So far as they know, there's no WW presence to be chased. Thus the trial is not a distraction.
From Trial of the Beast to Broken Moon, I'm probably going to toss in a few Whispering Way cultists at Schloss Caromarc that spent some time griping about being left behind in the Count's hearing. When they weren't torturing him.
I might skip that and go with the foreshadowing and set-up I've already done, though. I had Adivion arrive a few days after the funeral to personally deliver his condolences to Kendra. The Professor was an old friend of his and all. So he wants to do right by Kendra by taking her away from Ravengro to Caliphas, by way of Lepistadt and the Ascanor Lodge, where she'll want for nothing and maybe opt to marry him but in any event be set for life.
The party does not know that Kendra is also a remote descendant of the Whispering Tyrant. Adivion wanted to use Professor Lorrimor for his endgame, but Vrood didn't know and blew that. So now his options are Kendra and Count Whatshisname. The latter is handy for if Kendra catches a fireball or something. Adivion might even take both just to be extra-sure. More Whispering Tyrant juice can only be better, right?
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Book 2 is a quick "cash for work" job. The bit about the effigy is a retrospective "ooooohhh so they were here" bit that is supposed to be ignored at the start. Then when you finish, you realize that the whole Beast trial was a distraction.
This board has quite a few posts asking for help with book 2 and connecting it to the story (including a thread I made). It is a bit rough, but doable.
You can either downplay direct connections between WW and what happened at Harrowstone. You could move the professor's "It was the WW!!!" book from his chest to the keeping of Judge Daramid. Then she only gives it over after the players report what happened with Caromarc. Kind of a "oh, hmm, that's rather interesting... fits in with this journal that the Professor sent me right before he died".
Or you can handle the information as book 1 does and make the trial a required gate for story progression. Daramid promises information if you help her prevent the Beast's death. Smarten up the Beast and have him strike a deal with the players in which he will tell them information/take them to his father who knows things if they help find him innocent.
Or go even further and implicate Vorkstag and Grines from day one but put pressure on the party that they can't walk into Lepidstadt and attack the chymic works (official supplier for the university) without evidence of wrong-doing, so they have to help prove the Beast is just a patsy so they can be given permission by the state to raid V&G's. Ensure Daramid gets in a conversation of how bad it would be to try this too soon and how the mayor (whose deputy is actually the skin stealing Vorkstag) likes them and would send the town militia to deal with any crazy murderous hobos, er, player parties that do things without evidence.
In V&Gs, they find that Grines was a WW member (perhaps already known, or suspected, by Daramid) and that Vrood was by and some architectural plans of Caromarc with notes indicating methods of clandestine entrance and information about guards and patrols.
Actually, I kind of wish I ran it like that, heh. Hard part is getting players to not attack V&Gs too early. It isn't a horrible thing to see the trial skipped, just a loss of so much xp (and role playing opportunity). Daramid can reveal her position in the Palantine Eye and indicate the players need to go by the book or risk arrest and banishment and the escape of the Professor's killer.
In my game, the players are all one big happy mercenary company. So Judge Daramid just gave the party 10k to go investigate why the Beast still hasn't sent word back as to what happened to his father.
Can't help with the other adventures though; only just finishing up book 2 now.
|W E Ray|
One of the things I'm pretty sure I'll do is put Adivion Adrissant in the opening adventure in Harrowstone -- just as a random NPC that the PCs meet like the other NPCs in town. This way they'll know him, have met with and talked to him. Then I'll find a place in "Broken Moon" or somewhere where the PCs find some evidence that that guy they met in Harrowstone is the leader of the Whispering Way cult. That'll create some nice continuity.
Another one of the things I'm gonna do is provide more info on the history of the Whispering Way in Lepistadt and Caliphas, specifically, some of the top henchmen -- the Grey Friar, Morrowgarth the Dracolich, that Nightwing General, that really cool Alchemist Lich and the awesome Lich-Wolf. Plus some info on Renchurch and Gollowspire. I think if the PCs can continue to gather info on the who's who and where's what of The Whispering Way, it will go a long way to connecting the various adventures.
I think I've solved the "Trial of the Beast" problem by having Judge Daramid believe the Whispering Way set up The Beast and stole the Seasage Effigy. It means that she'll know what the Effigy is more than the prof at the University but that's okay -- it was kinda lame that (I felt) that no one knew anything about the item that was stolen.
But I'm still struggling with the beginning of "Ashes at Dawn."