I'm giving this one a whirl next month. I'm wondering what previous GMs have done (if anything) to introduce this adventure as a PFS mission?
I am leaning toward having the PCs sent to Blackcove after three different golden objets d'art of Azlanti origin have surfaced in Magnimar and are traced back to the adventure location. The PCs are sent to tactfully discover the source of the materials, and reminded that honey catches more flies than vinegar. What have you done in the past?
I've done this only once so far, but I sent them in to find the first guy they meet (dont have mod in front of me right now and the name escapes me). I introduced him as a sometime Pathfinder informant who had not reported in a year or so. They were to determine his fate and get any additional info that they could on possible Azlanti artifacts or sites in the area.
He was then able to set the hook pretty easily and get them on the right course. Ymmv.
Thanks Kristie! This is what I worked up tonight:
Prior to beginning the adventure, ask each player to be prepared to not only introduce their character, but describe what their character would be doing in Magnimar while not currently on an assignment. Details like where their character would be eating, sleeping, training, worshiping, practicing their day jobs, etc.
The most lawful/respectable/high charisma PC is invited to breakfast with Venture Captain Sheila Heidmarch. Over a meal of poached quail eggs, roasted sunflower hearts and mixed berries in hardened maple sap the Venture Captain outlines the mission.
“A few years ago a remnant of ancient Azlant surfaced in Magnimar. The precious metals it was made from weren’t nearly as valuable as the history behind it. Obviously the Society was interested in purchasing, or at least cataloging it, and discovering whence it came from. We were aware of most collections around the Inner Sea, but this item was heretofor unknown. Our efforts were fruitless but the matter only became more intriguing when several more never-before-seen ornaments from the same Age were found circulating around the city. We conjectured that there must have been a new find unearthed recently. After more resources were dedicated to the case we were able to suss out the mystery. Far to the south, tucked away in the Hellmouth Gulf in Cheliax is a freckle of a fishing village called Blackcove. Practically nothing is known about it since no one ever has had a reason to visit before. The trail of ornaments appears to end there.
The Society is relatively certain—in as much that we’re sending a team of Pathfinders to a literal backwater—that this place is the source. The inhabitants have probably uncovered a trove of Azlanti treasure and are wise enough to keep it to themselves, selling the pieces far from their local markets. Certainly if Queen Abrogail’s tax collectors knew of this discovery they’d pick that village cleaner than a cat carcass in Underbridge. As you heard, the village is within the borders of Cheliax and the Society has no legal right to search it. We don’t need to make enemies, we have enough for the time being. However, we do want to find the source of these artifacts and catalogue them thoroughly at a minimum.
I have chosen you to lead the team. Here is a list of agents currently available in Magnimar. [Heidmarch hands over a list with the rest of the PC’s names on it] Collect whomever you have need of, book passage to Cheliax, compile a list of equipment you require and report back to me before leaving. I’ll advance what you need for the mission, and we can deal with anything above that after your successful return.
Although I trust you to use a creative approach, I strongly suggest keeping your mission a secret when you reach the village. Make up some story to avert suspicion. Find some excuse to linger. The villagers are likely insular people equipped with a natural distrust of anyone not related by blood. Win them over. Have your team use their talents to ingratiate the villagers to you. Drive off some local pests, mend some fishing nets, lance some boils… once you have their trust see what you can find out. There’s always one or two that can’t keep their mouths shut when they get in their cups. Just don’t do anything that will cause a flap with the Chelish authorities.
I think one month should suffice. You should be able to flag a passing coaster and make your way back to Magnimar in time. If you find what I am hoping those villagers are sitting on, bring back as much as you can and catalog whatever you can’t. And please be discreet as possible. My husband and I will not soon forget your efforts should they be successful. We have a lot invested in researching this matter. If you hope to have a lodge of your own someday, the Heidmarchs can make or break a Pathfinder’s career. Am I clear?”
Dismissed, the PC must now locate the rest of the members of the party in Magnimar. The “team leader” player should interact with the others and relate the mission orders. The GM should facilitate and encourage the party to “Explore, Report, Cooperate”. Once the players are done arranging passage, shopping and discussing their plans, the team leader can return to Sheila Heidmarch and she’ll advance them 300 gp to cover the bare essentials (travel and food). If the PC attempts to negotiate with her, she will add 200gp plus 100 gp per point above a DC 20 Diplomacy check. At the end of the adventure the cap gold will not be altered by any degree of success. It just means the party will spend less out-of-pocket gold in the beginning. If the negotiator fails to hit a DC 15 the Venture Captain’s composure changes ever-so-slightly and she wonders aloud if she misjudged the PC when she chose him/her to lead the expedition. Further attempts are met with a cool stare.
Travel by ship takes around ten days. On Day Nine the ship is battered by a storm and crippled, unable to continue until several days of repairs are completed. The captain is very apologetic and suggests that Blackcove is less that a day’s travel down the coast if they don’t want to wait. The PCs will be rowed ashore and can travel overland toward the fishing village, leading into the first encounter in the adventure.
Hopefully this intro doesn't prolong the module too much. I won't be sure if it's too distracting until I run it next month.
Well I did a rather simple introduction and it went something like this:
You don't know wich venture captain you must have annoyed to earn this particular punishment duty but you've been banished to the westeren reaches of Cheliax with measuring sticks, lodestones and other assorted devices. orders from above are that the maps of the western Chelish coast and countryside are horribly out of date and the Pathfinder Society wants them updated......
Essentialy the pc's were doign an ordnance survey and updating maps of the area, an arduous & tedious task wich would take them at least two months. After about six weeks they were utterly sick of it and happened to be strolling down by the rocky pebble beach one misty morning when suddenly.........
Yep. Easy way to insert them into the location without needing much reason or meaning. Maybe I was lazy but it certainly felt more natural than having some important npc tell them to go to an obscure location without reason because if the npc heard reports of what was going on and sent them then they'd be arriving far too late.
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I ran this scenario this past weekend. It was a lot of fun and I was mostly worried about doing it justice. My PFS intro worked well, but also ate up a lot of time. I did not schedule enough time to complete the adventure and ended up going two hours over. The scenario has a lot of role-play and investigation elements that set it apart from the other modules I have run. In the future I think I will avoid trying to run this one in a single day. It deserves to be savored.