Lots of spoilers enclosed. Caveat emptor.
My group just finished investigating the Sanctuary, and found the evidence that would lead them to Vorkstag and Grine’s Chymic Works. However, the group contains a paladin who refused to break into the factory on the grounds that there simply wasn’t enough compelling evidence to warrant an unlawful entry.
I don’t want to get involved in a discussion of the validity of the paladin’s choice. What’s done is done, and I believe the player chose the correct option for his character. Be that as it may, there is evidence inside the factory that will not be uncovered, and not introduced at trial. Without this evidence, the players do not have enough successful Diplomacy checks needed to win an innocent verdict. In short, the paladin’s choice to not enter V&G’s factory results in a guilty verdict, as written in the adventure.
I don’t really feel right penalizing the character for making proper in-character choices, but I also want to stay true to the weight of evidence presented at trial, and have a verdict rendered based on how much evidence the group presented at the trial.
I would go with the guilty verdict.
Uncovering V&G's involvement is really the thread that proves the Beast's innocence. Most of the rest of the exculpatory evidence is circumstantial. While I am very much in favor of rules of criminal procedure (such as probable cause for a warrant to enter a residence), sometimes those rules mean that the guilty escapes and, less frequently but in this case, the innocent gets convicted. It doesn't mess up the module if The Beast is convicted, and maybe it teaches the rest of your PCs not to let the Paladin dictate their actions. But I probably wouldn't ding them too much on XP.
Sorry that your party missed the factory. It was a ton of fun. One alternative would be to invent some extra evidence that falls in the party's lap and gives more justification for entering the factory. One way might be to have V&G come out of the factory and go after the PCs. It has been suggested before that it might not make sense for V&G to just hang out in their factory while the PCs go about acquitting The Beast.
If V&G come after the PCs, they might then lead the PCs back to the factory in a retreat, or the PCs might find enough evidence after defeating V&G to justify entering the factory at that point. Or maybe their engagement with V&G itself provides SOME evidence to add to The Beast's defense...
I was the paladin you speak of in the CC I play in.
I also didn't feel there was enough evidence to warrant breaking and entering. I did however know (though magic and skill checks) that the beast was innocent, and so decided that investigating V&G's was the just course of action, as it was our only lead. I was prepared to accept that if V&G were innocent that I would have to make amends, though after entering their guilt was obvious (of the current crime or some other crime). It did help that the other characters decided to enter anyway, so for me, going along to make sure they didn't ransack an innocent man's business sealed the deal.
Interesting, because by acting how the Paladin should be played, the paladin is letting a greater evil succeed, which I agree kind of feels sour. I know that it is "Ustalav and Gothic horror and Hard Choices" and all of that, yet, the cool thing about modules is that they are fluid and can change based on player actions and events. Vorstag and Grine's Chymick Works is a really awesome part of the module, and if you want an excuse to still have it occur (which I recommend not only for the sake of experience and treasure but also for horror factor) you can do the following.
1) What the fellow above doing the "Dance of Ruin" said. Have the mob event occur, but have V+G be in the mob, and even lead the PCs away from the event once its concluded back to V+G's.
2) Have them be attacked while at rest or in the streets before the night concludes. You could have Vorstag all magically juiced (Enlarged and such) and disguised as the Shambling Man to try to assasinate the PCs or have them send the Juju zombies or even Mongrelfolk after them.
3) Have Judge Daramid (if they're friendly to her) appear before the night's end and have her ask of their findings. If they talk of V+G, she can be the catalyst of reason to get them in investigate, even going so far as proccuring a warrant. Remind them that requisitioning guards is difficult due to the number guarding the beast and keeping the peace with the host of people in the city.
4) Have one of the Mongrelfolk escape and when he hears of the Beast being out on trial and tell the PCs (the investigators or at least would-be plantiffs of monstrous folk) that he/she always thought that the Beast lurked within the factory. They had even seen it a day ago, while the Beast was supposably in custody at the courthouse. This should clue the PCs into the presence of an imposter at V+G's, which should give the paladin enough cause to go in.
All good ideas Rakshaka, except I don't think #4 works as written.
The mongrelmen know that Vorkstag wears the skin of their slain leader, which helps keep them in line (presumably by the constant reminder of Vorkstag's power and freakiness). So the mongrelman would not mistake Vorkstag in Shambling Man disguise for The Beast. He could, however, say that he's seen Vorkstag heading out in a disguise that looks like the Beast.
My group solved this problem by sending the Paladin on a errant. Then they went in by themself. Said that I have 6 players....
I really hate to exclude a player from the game just because he made some perfectly valid character decisions. The player knew that there were some moral gray areas in the AP, and willingly chose to play a paladin, looking forward to these ethical quandaries. No, we will deal with the consequences of having the paladin as an active member of the group.
Agreed 100%. The player carefully reviewed his code of conduct, and determined that upholding the law was paramount. I guess he's LAWFUL good.
I still think there are plenty of good suggestions in this thread for getting the party to engage with V&G either inside or outside the factory, consistent with your party's Paladin's strict code of criminal procedure. I definitely wouldn't let the Beast be acquitted without some solid evidence of V&G's involvement.
Fubbles the Baby Cow wrote:
This is absolutely not the last time the paladin may have to sit out for a bit. Paladins are exceptionally good at combat in this AP, and I believe that was purposely balanced by making situations in which the party can't depend on the paladin to rolfsmite the fight. Look at the next few books, moral quandries abound:
Do you kill everyone who has willingly sent their daughter to be impregnated by an elder god and his servants?
Do you not break into the temple, even if that's your only lead to the horrible elder god cult?
Do you make nice with the werewolves or kill all on sight? They're not a bunch of pushovers.
Do you make nice with the vampires or kill all on sight? They're also pretty tough.
How do you deal with someone selling illegal drugs to said vampires? Are they now good guys because they're making (un)life hard for the vampires?
If I recall correctly, the player guide for the AP stated that paladin wouldn't be as obvious a choice as it would seem, calling out moral quandaries like these as common. If a player chose to play paladin anyway, they have chosen to accept everything that goes with that. That doesn't mean be a jerk to the other PCs however...
No one said being good was easy. Giving the player an easy way out cheapens the hard choice he had to make, thus lessening it.
It being a Paladin was easy, everyone would do it.
I'd absolutely love to see how the paladin does in these situations. It's a rare thing to see a paladin played well enough to handle things like this without going on a "but it was evil!" rampage, without being badgered by the GM into falling, or without having to sit out encounters because they might offend his delicate LG sensibilities (or whatever).
We had a VERY interesting time with the Paladin. He is played extremely well.
KEVIN STAY OUT ;)
- he felt in love with Kendra -> so Kendra will be kidnapped by AA later
- As he had moral issues with the breakin, the group went ahead and broke in without him, however they succeed in gaining some info form the Mongrel men and then could convince the Paladin that THIS is just. Also they send him to get a warrant form the Judge.
- In an episode between TotB and BM (XP up'ing) he went and slew a person he supected of doing wrong purly because he was radiating Evil. I need to make the point to the player that most ppl in Ustavla are some kind of Evil and had him read up on the definitions. Said that next time he wanted to smite...it didnt worked...until he prayed for forgiveness.
- We had some VERY fun time in Acscore lodge. What happened was that he is a quite innocent and naive. SO he didn't really understood what the Brothel was about. The Rouge pre-paid and let him wander in...he was VERY embarrassed/confused and left in a HURRY. I choose that night to have Kendra send him a message...Woman ALWAYS know
- He wasn't VERY impressed with the Werewolfes and it needed the group to make him go along.
- I'm replacing WotW with the Harrowing
Go with the guilty verdict. Then have the Beast break out and head toward his father.
He's a golem, nobody in town is powerful enough to stop the Beast from breaking out and running away, and by the time your party is alerted to the event he's already off into the forest and they have to catch up.
Then they can talk about Mr. Paladin and good vs. evil and all that.
If a paladin in my game killed someone soley because they pinged on dectect evil, that paladin would not have any paladin powers until they fully atoned for that murder. Detect evil shouldn't shouldn't replace a paladin's moral judgement.
JOHN DICKERSON wrote:
This is where that whole lawful part of LG comes in. Funny how often paladins ignore half of their alignment.
]Did the party miss Vorkstag's surgical tools back at the manticore's island?
Also, IIRC, if the party explored Sanctuary, they should have evidence that the doctor and Vorkstag were engaged in the illegal trade of cadavars. The main point of Sanctuary is to beat the party over the head with Vorkstag's involvement, if they hadn't investigated Vorkstag already.
The smart thing for the paladin to do would be seek Judge Daramid's counsel and ask for a warrant.
Also, yes, the group should get the guilty verdict if timidity blocks them from fully investigating arson, murder, and grave robbing.
I actually don't think the Sanctuary offered much good evidence.
The evidence most parties are likely to find is simply that Dr. Brada bought bleach from V&G, which doesn't prove much of anything -- lots of people buy their bleach. My PCs did not dig up the graves; the module as written doesn't give them much reason to. Even if they had, it wouldn't prove that V&G had anything to do with it. But my PCs did get a huge clue through a brilliant move of casting share memory (I think that's what it's called) on Karl -- the wizard saw what Karl saw, so when he saw the Shambling Man skin in Vorkstag's closet, he knew it was Vorkstag in disguise who burned down the Sanctuary.
Agreed, Voomer, I had to add a slightly scorched letter from Vorgstak to Dr. Brada containing a veiled threat not to sever their "business relationship." Despite this, there really isn't any evidence linking V&G to the Beast at all until one actually breaks in to V&G and finds the Shambling Man skin. The paladin was quite right in his assertion that there was no compelling evidence present to warrant a break-in.
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment on this thread. I've decided to let the guilty verdict be rendered.
1. The player in question chose to play a paladin with full knowledge that this was a difficult AP to play a paladin. He welcomed the RP opportunities this presented. I don't want to take away the experience of RPing the consequences of his decision from him.
I'll follow up and let you all know how it goes after we play next session.
Your right. However the person WAS also an evildoer and on the slaughter list. Thats why he got off lightly.
Fubbles the Baby Cow wrote:
Keep in mind that while they're not missing XP, the are missing loot. And be careful about the Paladin at the Schloss. You'll need to cook up a good reason for the Count to let the PCs take all of his valuable stuff. Otherwise it'll be a practically loot-free chapter.
I realized after reading the message boards that the paladin will have a problem with looting Schloss, especially if Alpon survives. To correct this, I plan on having Alpon revealed as the Beast's creator very quickly after the Beast is found guilty. The court will then hire the PC's to bring him in for a trial of his own, and will reward them a GP amount commensurate with the loot that is found in Schloss. Furthermore, if Alpon survives, he will offer to let the party keep what they found in Schloss if they let him go. So, the group still gets some form of loot no matter what direction they take.
Fubbles the Baby Cow wrote:
Good move! In my game, I had the count be a sympathetic figure filled with regret. He gave the PCs all of his valuable personal possessions because he no longer wanted to be burdened by them.
If you want to just replace the loot with an equal amount of GP, that should work (as long as you give the PCs time to spend it before they head off to Ascanor!) Those Goat figurines can sure come in handy when fighting the Promethean, though...
Playing a paladin in CC now (in book 6), I can tell you that the paladin with probably reduce the group's wealth by a significant amount. If this isn't a problem (we've been doing fine anyway), don't worry about it. If it is you might want to seed in a few extra ways to get loot apart from stealing it or taking it off of dead NPCs.
Your paladin has problems taking loot off dead NPCs? Who, for example?
Basically anyone that won't fight to the death, or with whom a fight can be avoided entirely. Paladin's don't (usually) kill everything and take their loot. Evil people who surrender aren't usually stripped naked before being taken to the authorities. That's just bad public relations. Not to say he wouldn't take it once they were dead, just that they don't tend to end up dead in the first place.
The rioters in book 2 all survived, as our diplomacy/cha heavy group talked it down very quickly. In book 3 our group never fought the lodge's owner, and everyone in the lodge survived for that matter. None of their loot was available to us. Schloss wasn't fully looted, as it was the house of someone we were invited to visit, and who turned out to be a pretty cool guy. We didn't kill a whole tribe of werewolves, nor did we wipe out the vampires. I'm sure they all had great loot on them. Many encounters were bypassed with diplomacy that would have awarded loot. We also skipped all of the random encounters at the beginning of book 6, but that was due to the paladin's cleric cohort casting wind walk and not the paladin himself per se. To be fair, our group seems to have the mentality of sticking to the "most right" way to beat an encounter, which is usually the one with the least fighting/death.
Thanks, that's helpful. The PCs in my campaign don't have as many qualms as your paladin (they would probably strip an NPC of valuables before turning him in), but they are also pretty diplomacy oriented, and I suspect they won't loot recklessly. For now it's ok because of some extra magic I threw in, but I'll have to keep it in mind.
I guess I've never really agreed with the DnD mentality that killing an evil creature is always a good action, no matter what.
Fubbles the Baby Cow wrote:
I also found very little evidence at the Sanctuary that warranted a break-in. However I also had a very diplomatic character. She ended up bargaining with the ghouls. I decided the ghouls had been around before the fire. In exchange for a dead guy they would tell the PCs what they saw the night the asylum burned down.
Height of irony when the PCs ended up raiding the Chymik Works even without the ghoul's statement and brought Grine's body to them as payment.
The courtroom was Not Impressed by the PCs entering a disposition taken from a pair of ghouls into evidence. Judge Daramid knew then she'd tapped the right PCs for the job.
My PCs didn't get sufficient evidence from Sanctuary to break in -- but they did get enough to justify the party's creepy corpse-obsessed witch taking a little look-see. She knocked on the front door, Grine told her to go away. But he was within charm person range, and one will save later he was giving her the guided tour, as the newest potential customer for their little "side business." He showed her everything but the pool full of corpses.
It was pretty awesome.
My apologies; my memory of the Sanctuary evidence appears to be completely off.
My party found the surgical tools at Morast and traced the tools all the way to the Chymic Works. At which point they decided they'd break in and pay restitution later if it turned out they'd been wrong to do so. So they had the Chymic Works evidence to present the very first day of trial. So it went pretty well for them.
Zhangar, I think as written the module doesn't contemplate that there would be enough time to track down the origin of the surgical tools before the first day of trial (it requires HOURS of wandering around town from shop to shop during normal business hours), but it sounds like you changed that bit or you gave them more time before the trial started...
My players split up during the trials. It sucked a bit for the Bard but that's what he gets for having the astronomical diplomacy score (it worked out well that the player missed one of the days, which covered two of the trials; so I just said his character was doing trial stuff and had him roll diplomacy for both days the next session).
This gave them time to research the tools and to check in on the Chymic Works. They asked around the area and learned that there weren't workers that came and went like normal places. This plus the reception given when they arrived (rudely told to go away), the flesh golem hound (my party's wizard will not accept the idea that flesh golems aren't a definite indication of evil; he still thinks The Beast's dad is complicit in the events of TotB), the tools, and the bleach (both put V&G circumstantially at two scenes) gave my players all the excuse they needed to break in and deal with things.
But then again, instead of an LG Paladin of Doing The Right Thing (tm), my party has a CG, LN (druid who cares only for the law of druid and nature), NG (the biased wizard), N, and NG (an inquistor of the goddess of fire and vengeance). So it wasn't really a problem for them. Now, the inquisitor did balk heavily at looting Caromarc's while they were traipsing through the castle, but that's different.
I had Caromarc's estate provide the players with 13000 gold as a reward for saving him. That is the value of the goods in the castle minus all magical items (goats, potions, wands, etc). My party was able to figure out the necessary secret doors and such, so they could have looted everything if they had the time/inclination.
It is a nice way to deal with the money issue.
What the fallout for the OP's campaign?
A guilty verdict was rendered. The Beast was scheduled to burn at dawn. The group knew a miscarriage of justice had occurred, but the paladin exhorted the rest of the group to abide by the ruling. Adivion attended the trial, and remarked to the group what a shame it was that the verdict was guilty.
I had to be prepared for the group to possibly break the Beast out of prision, but they chose not to. Instead, I had Adivion do it himself. Afterwards, I had Adivion begin to spread the rumor that Alpon Caromarc was the Beast's creator. My thinking was that Adivion hated Alpon when he was the count of Vieland, mostly because Alpon would use his position to use valuable time and resources from the University, where Adivion and Prof. Lorrimor used to work. Adivion had always hoped to get a measure of payback on the former count, and had always suspected that Alpon was the beast's creator.
In freeing the beast and starting the rumor of it's origin, Alpon hopes to discredit the former count entirely, and perhaps have him placed on trial himself.
The group, meanwhile, calls upon Judge Daramid for their payment. She informs them of the escape and rumor, and hires them to bring Alpon back to Lepidstadt for his own safety, before a mob can organize and storm the Schloss. This gets the group up to Schloss Caromarc without the Beast having to reveal its origin.
How the group deals with looting in the Schloss still remains to be seen.
Sounds like it played out well. One question I have is why Adivion would want to put suspicion on the Count, knowing that if people go to the Schloss they might find evidence of the WW's involvement?
I also had Adivion interact with the party in Lepidstadt, but he was trying to get the party to think a group worshiping the Outer Gods was behind the theft. When the party asked him about a rumor they heard that Caromac was an accomplished alchemist, Adivion said he hadn't heard anything along those lines. I may follow someone else's suggestion of planting a letter from Adivion to the Count in the Schloss, which might generate the first real suspicions about Adivion...
Prior to the start of the AP, Adivion sends Auren Vrood out to retrieve the various items needed for the Carrion Crown formula. He initially has a lot of faith in Auren, and assumes he will complete the missions without complications. Auren turns out to be not as thorough as Adivion believes. First, he kills Professor Lorrimor, not knowing that he was Adivion's long time companion and partner. Next, one of his team accidentally leaves a symbol of the Whispering Way in Schloss Caromarc.
Adivion knows nothing about the missing symbol, but is furious about Petros's murder. He still needs Auren to collect the remaining two items for the Carrion Crown potion, and he knows that Auren has a fairly good lead on the group, and should be able to acquire both items before the group catches him. Adivion decides to take his revenge for the professor's death by purposefully letting the group know that the Whispering Way is responsible for Petros' murder and the theft of the Seasage Effigy. Once the group catches up with Auren and the WW cultists, Adivion hopes that the group kills him (after, of course, all the CC components have already been sent on to Caliphas). Adivion assumes that the group will believe that they have caught the bad guy, dispatched him, and now can go home, while he proceeds to Gallowspire.
Does that sound plausible, or is it too convoluted?
I like it.
Fubbles the Baby Cow wrote:
That's pretty much exactly what I had Adivion do -- with the addition that in my game, Adivion is a triple agent, having infiltrated the WW for the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, whilst also secretly working with Kendra to construct the Carrion Crown for his own purposes.