My FLGS owner asked me if there are any APs I thought could be run in a single, 24-hour iron-gamer session. I’m not an AP expert, I have only played halfway through Kingmaker, book 1 of Carrion Crown, and am still in book 1 of Skull & Shackles. But I am really excited about the idea of completing a whole AP in one shot. Here are some of the qualities I believe any AP I ran under these circumstances would need:
Straight Forward: Minimal mini-games or new mechanics for me and the players to learn.
RP light: I rank the best things about RPGs in that order: roleplaying first, playing game second. However, RP scenes can be pretty indulgent, last variable amounts of time, and splinter the attention.
Linear: I am on a deadline and trying to balance the plot of six modules at once; going off the rails is not an option. If each module in the AP goes from Point A to point B, that keeps us on track.
Simple books 5&6: By the 15 hour mark, I see us running out of brain power. The high level stuff needs to be as easy or easier to run than the low level stuff.
Early buy-in: I would probably be running this for virtual strangers. The earlier the adventure hits the ground and gets them engaged, the better.
Fully published and well played: The more resources I can use to facilitate learning and running this AP, the better.
Preferably Pathfinder: The owner didn’t explicitly state this, but I see this as a promotional event. He would profit more off of an AP that uses the current best selling RPG on the market, not the system from which that game spawned.
I am looking for suggestions for APs that fit my criteria, and advice on any criteria I may be overlooking.
I'm afraid I haven't run or played any of the APs, but I just thought I'd say this sounds like a fun time. Or would if I were a younger man, and lived wherever you're running it. Heck, I'd probably give it a try anyway.
Ulgulanoth makes a good point about the time it takes to level up characters, but I imagine it would be hard to do it in advance, especially if you don't know who's going to show up 'til the game starts.
Have fun, and good luck!
Rise of the Runelords is what I would suggest, especially now with the single tome compilation.
I doubt it could be done without rewriting or skipping big parts, considering a single big fight scene can sometimes take an hour or more.
At the very least, I'd suggest having the PCs "pre-leveled", i.e. have character sheets prepared for all of the PCs from level 1 to level 16 in advance, with some backups in case of permanent PC death. Leveling up is a big time-waster, too!
EDIT: ulgulanoth made exactly the same point, of course.
My group tends to burn through APs faster than most but unless you do a ton of chopping a 24 hour AP is not possible. High end combat is a long slog no matter what and boss fights can take hours.
Council of Thieves is the shortest path we've run (it ended when we were level 12) and your best best if you want to run an entire AP. Just drop all of the random encounters and combine some of the minor ones and you could probably pull it off. Just hope that your players will allow them selves to be lead by the nose.
If you don't mind chopping the AP off early there are a couple that lend themselves to ending early.
I'm with Rambler. I don't think I could run a single book of an AP in a marathon 24-hour session, much less a whole AP!
I've been running Rise of the Runelords for a year and a half, and we only just finished Book 3: Hook Mountain Massacre-- the half-way point. I'm expecting it will take my group three years to complete, start-to-finish.
I have run two entire AP's; am currently running two others; and have played in one.
I think Runelords was the quickest of the ones I have run and it took 30 hours of game play to get through each of the first three books. So, that is 90 hours right there. I think the second three took a bit longer.
We play once a month (as a rule) for a long Saturday and it took us a year a half to play Runelords and it was the quickest one we have played.
We are almost two years into Serpent Skull and just starting the 4th chapter.
We are a bit ahead of that in Carrion Crown and in that one we have played at least a year and nine months.
I do not think it can be done.
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Unless you hack giant swathes out of an AP, both in terms of combats and RP, there's no possible way you could get through an entire AP in 24 hours. An AP is six books, that means you have a mere 4 hours per book. That's in no way feasible.
Your best bet is to run a cut-down version of an AP like Vaellen suggested. Considering that combat gets slower at higher levels, truncating an AP will greatly increase the amount you'll be able to get through.
How straight forward is Jade Regent I think I recall seeing it had solid but not overbearing rails on it.
The thing about JR is that it is role-play focused. Well more so than the other APs.
But yeah i'd go with one of the 64 page adventures OR there are some modules that link together to form a mini AP as it were. For instance the Price of Immortality trilogy. Starts at level one with Crypt of the Everflame and takes you somewhere between 7th and 9th level. Also, its in pathfinder not 3.5.
I don't see it as impossible. I ran Legacy of Fire quite quick. Books 1, 2, 4, and 6 took normal time, but we did 3 and 5 in about 5 hours each. Granted, they didn't hit everything, but they didn't miss anything super-important.
I would have the players at a slightly higher level, maybe one higher than the AP would normally be recommended for, or use high point buy. Also, in addition to pre-levelling, use one of the many Magic-Item-Variants that don't rely on finding said item first. That way, the players can go ahead and work in even magic item statistics.
Does anyone think that Legacy of Fire might qualify (aside from being 3.5 instead of PF)? I haven't read it through yet - it's still sitting on my shelf, looking pretty :) - but it seems straight-forward, and might lend itself to some chopping/hand-waving.
Or yes, this is much better said - Legacy of Fire is incredibly straight forward. Book 4 is the only book where you don't have very clear and defined goals and steps to meet them, right out of the gate.
I did once a marathon session of 10 hours for my RotRL AP campaign and the group managed to slough through most - but not all - of Thistletop, including one level up.
Can't figure out how to fit a single volume of any AP into a 24 hours session, let alone a whole AP of six issues.
Maybe if you just read them aloud and answer questions along the way.
You could conceivably do an "abridged" version. Say: take the 6 PFS compatible sections of Rise of the Runelords and run pregens through them narrating between sections.
It's a bit of a disservice to the AP in my opinion, but it's the most practical solution.
Ryan: thinking about it a bit more and treating it more seriously, by your criteria I would focus on Vaellen's suggestions (if you're discounting modules). Tho my suggestions on how to proceed would be slightly different.
Council of Thieves is the shortest, and I have been running it for a while now. But it may be possible to do a Reader's Digest version. Especially if you handwave the various point tracking mechanics. In general, I'd give characters at even levels and add 2 at the start of each book.
I only have played the beginning of Serpent's Skull, but you may be able to make a good super-session of it by concentrating on Books 1, 5, & 6.
And what I know of Carrion Crown suggests it may actually give the best Pathfinder experience of all of them if you can condense each Book into a 3.5 hour session.
What about a speed run? As in make it a goal to see how far you can get in 24 hours. Could even become a yearly event where people try to break the record.
Or, you could even start the PCs at level 12 (if you're running Council of Thieves, say) -- then you wouldn't have to worry about leveling up and you might be able to breeze through the first few modules very, very quickly!
I think tackling one book of one AP is the only really reasonable way to go. And if you really want to ironman it, one book a day for six consecutive days. Ultimately, what eats all your time up in a given gaming session is a combination of time spent really properly roleplaying, which is largely independent of the actual written contents of a module, and easy enough to skip if you're really just in a speed-run frame of mind, and combat, which is largely avoidable, but what dictates the level curve, but doesn't eat up too much of a given book's page count. Really, what eats the bulk of the page count is descriptive text and elaborate explanations of NPC motivations/area histories/complex set-piece mechanics.
So, if the GM had the entire AP committed to memory beforehand, you refused to ever stop and smell the roses, and decided not to bother slowly revealing maps piece by piece, and the party had all read the AP and knew all the tricks to skip past certain fights and just get directly to their objectives as quickly as possible, you could fly right by like 90% of the content from a given book...
... and end up with a TPK or the party getting completely stuck on the other 10%.
Book 2 of Legacy of Fire for instance can be plowed through, if the PCs are extremely lucky, in something like half an hour. Take a backdoor into the dungeon, sneak past everything inside except for two fairly wimpy fights you can't really avoid, get a McGuffin, leave the way you came. Congratulations... but having skipped past basically everything, all you have to show for it in terms of reward is maybe 3000 XP each, and, well actually there's enough equipment to deck out a single character fairly well. Still, this is a portion of the AP which is supposed to carry everyone from level 5 to level 7. Book 3 you can pretty much skip entirely. For that matter, your ultimate goal for book 1 is pretty much just to take down a particular NPC sitting in a building that's just kinda sitting right there next to where it starts off.
At a certain point though, say, the end of book 4, there's going to be a combat situation you're forced into, and if you sped through the first few books, you'd have the PCs facing off against CR11 opponents with CR7 mooks while they're still level 4. Only way around that is if you're just constantly leveling the party up by fiat and making up for all the loot they're missing, but at that point you're not really running the AP, just a highlight reel.
Of course, Legacy of Fire is a terrible example to use here, since..
I suppose THAT you could do in 24 hours, but it's such a cheat.
I vote that you should just try and run one book from an AP. I'd go with Carrion Crown, Book 1: "The Haunting of Harrowstone." It's definitely doable to run the whole book in 24 hours, and you could easily tweak the story just slightly to make it a one-off adventure.
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As a GM, looking at my particular playstyle and my most common group of players, i would say it cant be done, it's impossible. . . for me.
But if you've tried similar things before than I wish you luck. I also really want to how this works. The concept of "Ironman" AP challenges becoming a type of playstyle over time if this succeeds would be interesting development to follow long-term.
Now to my more immediate suggestions: If you can hold off on this for another month. The last volume of Shattered Star will be released. It meets a lot of your criteria. All the roleplay-heavy stuff is pretty much entirely optional (most of it is covered in side-bars even). So it's just going from point A to point b to point c. With each of the points being a dungeon. That's the premise of the AP - old-school dungeon crawl. So that could be doable.
If you can't wait for Shattered Star then I second (or third) the recommendation to try Council of Thieves.
If you are just leveling people when needed and not actually giving out XP Skull and Shackles might be alright. You would have to shorten some things, and you could cut it off at the end of Book 3 and sort of Add some stuff at the very end to make it work, but I think it could be done. A third of Book 1 is interacting with the crew so that can be sort of sped up. Took my group like 15 hours to do, but you could probably do it in less time if you were just plowing along. Half of Book 2 is random encounters that you could grab a handful of. Even if you were doing it normally you can sort of do as little or as much as you want. The big finish could happen in Book 3 with the race and then if you win you become true free captains, sort of end it there.
I dont think a complete AP can be done on 24 hours, but the 3 firsts books of Carrion Crown can be easely made on a complete history and are fairly lineal. To acomplish that, the DM will have to do a huge work preparing all; be really familiar with the adventure, preparing PCs and leveling...
Personally, I will never be part of that game. I end really tired after 5-6 hours of play, really can't do 24. But seems interesting to people who can do it.
Yeah, looking at the math, I just don't think this is feasable. It is still an interesting thought experiment, though. hogarth, I think your suggestion of starting the characters at level 12 is really intriguing. They will blow through the early encounters quickly but still get the whole story, and learn their abilities as the story progresses. It eliminates any need to level, saving huge amounts of time. I still don't think it could be done, but I really would like to see for myself.
If I modify this to just be a single module of an AP, I think Rise of the Runelords is the best bet. Players get the introduction to the perenial AP and can buy their own coppy and run it themselves with the first part of the adventure modelled for them. There is also the best support material for it.
I GM a group that meets to play Rise of the Runelords so the following is some fuzzy math based on our experience.
We starting playing early Feb 2012. It's now mid Dec 2012. That's 9.5 months of playing (about 41 weeks).
We meet to play every other week (so about 20 sessions since we've started).
We've missed a few sessions (call it 2).
We play for an average of 6 hours a session.
We just finished Hook Mountain Massacre.
So we've played 18 sessions at 6 hours a session = 108 hours to finish 3 modules.
Assuming we INCREASE our speed of progress as we continue (because higher level combats take longer than lower level ones) we would finish Runelords in just about 116 hours.
While a 24-hour iron session sounds awesome. I don't think an AP could be finished in it, not if it's run as written.
Perhaps something less ambitious? Each module of an AP in 24 hours? My group finished Burnt Offerings in 18 hours (3 sessions). Skinsaw Murders took 42 hours (7 sessions) and Hook Mountain Massacre took 48 hours (8 sessions) respectively. I think that could be done.
Yeah. My suggestion would be to, instead, take a three-module series and try to do that within your 24 hours. You might be able to finish a single volume, but not six.
That said, you might be able to condense an AP down to the bare essentials and get through that. You'd definitely want to have pregens for all of the levels - you could use the ones from the back of the older APs (though these jump levels instead of rising through each level) or maybe use them from the NPC book.
Since it's at your FLGS I'm assuming you'd be running this for people with whom you don't regularly play? Things will go more slowly with new people than with your regular group, I'd imagine. You'll have to take that into account as well.
Since it's at your FLGS I'm assuming you'd be running this for people with whom you don't regularly play? Things will go more slowly with new people than with your regular group, I'd imagine. You'll have to take that into account as well.M
This is true.
We've also been running PFS at the shop, but interest has waned because many players are complining we are languishing in the lower tiers. 24 hours of PFS would amount to quite a few levels, with natural breaks to switch groups and have supper.