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CoT Wrap up thoughts

Council of Thieves

I finished GMing CoT last night and here are some thoughts:

If I were to ever run this again I would move Infernal Syndrome to the end and revamp the storyline and power levels to match. Something along the lines of: You just killed Ecarrdian, a great explosion occurs nearby, pillars of fire rise up. It would require some rebuilding of the story but I think it would provide a more satisfying buildup.

The reasoning is that my group and I felt that 5 and 6 were a bit anticlimatic after facing (even reduced) a Pit Fiend.

It would require either placing a filler adventure in place of 4 (to get the appropriate levels for 5) or dropping the power levels of 5 and 6 a bit. It would also require ramping up the power levels of 4 considerably (something that would actually work out well I think).

Other thoughts: Probably a failing of mine but some sections of the campaign seem disconnected unless you find ways to drop hints to the players. The campaign gives a GM a lot of backstory without providing much in the way of a means to give it to the players. Again, this is probably a failing of mine as I am a tactical GM with less skill at RP than many other GMs.

With all that said the end was a satisfying finish.
Party Composition: Cleric (debuffer), Wizard (mix of battlefield control, buff, and damage), Paladin (greatsword), and Rogue (twf).

The group provided proof to Chammady that she was being set up and when they got to the statue she confronted and attacked Ecarrdian.
Melavengian the Barbed Devil kept the group very busy while Ecarrdian and Chammady fought it out. Chammady died in 5rounds just as the group beat Melavengian. After killing Chammady I felt a power boost for Ecarrdian was in order. I gave him +2AC, +2attack/damage, and Fast Healing 5.

The party Wizard kept most of the army at bay with Create Pit and Cloudkill spells.

Ecarrdian used the Rapier of Puncturing to give the Paladin -13con and then nearly killed her with feint attacks. In the end Ecarrdian was brought down by a combination of attacks from the Paladin, Rogue and Harm (Ecarrdian saved) from the Cleric.

It should be noted that a good reason the group did not die is that I use the Hero point system. It is usually the difference between them dying or not dying in my games and last night was no different. Not one single player had any hero points remaining when the battle was over and yet they still felt like they just barely survived. All in all, I think it ended well.

- Gauss

The Exchange


awesome to hear you finished an AP! since I'm running one now and Iv'e run several that died out midway through I know how much of an epic challange it is, and I can imagine the setisfaction of finishing is epic as well!

However what you say about this AP is much as I suspected - it's very problematic, the later half more so than the earlier one, and since there are so many other APs I'm just itching to play through this one is very low on my list.

If you have the time, I'll love to hear more about each individual adventure, with the special insight you have as someone who's been through the entire thing and can look at the big picture.

Well, I don't think there is an module or AP out there that can be run 'out of the box' without modifications. Different groups have different styles and power levels.

What I had to do with my group and this AP:
* I don't like 'pointless abilities' on NPCs any more than I do on PCs. I typically revamp NPCs although I do not go so far as to make them uber-killing machines. I match them to the Players/PCs I GM for. Note: I do not match them in such a way to negate PCs, I match them in approximate power levels. CR is a guideline not a hard rule.

Note: A number of NPCs use NPC levels. These NPCs may require significant rebuilding. Most NPC levels are less than worthless. They count as if they are real CR-2 but they are actually less valuable than a real class. Take for example an CR13 Human Aristocrat 7/Cleric7. That is basically a Cleric7 with extra hitpoints. It isnt worth it.

* Treasure: This AP can give out utterly insane amounts of treasure. One particular section gives out treasure that would equip a party 2 levels higher. Some of the presumptions that the authors make are fine for some groups but if your group is the 'leave no stone unturned' kind, make sure you tone it down appropriately.

Note: One of the ideas about this AP is that the PCs are overequipped to deal with higher than normal CR encounters. I have not found this to be true for my group but it may be true for yours. You have to moderate this based upon your group.

* Experience: The first module in this AP is a bit short on experience. Either throw in some extra encounters here or there to make up for it or just give them levels early. This is because the first module was written while Paizo was still trying to figure out what they wanted to do with exp.

* Storyline: The storyline is decent but there are a couple things about the storyline organization that I found out. First, read the entire AP. Not everyone does this (I didn't). Some storyline details are not really discussed until later. Many Modules/APs have problems with conveying the story to the players. I think the problem is that they leave it to the GM on how to do that.

The latter half is not really problematic per se. It just feels a bit disconnected. In 4 you beat a toned down Pit Fiend. After that going to find out information about the Council (Module 5) is anticlimatic. Module 6 the city descends into chaos. Both modules are very different styles from the first 4. The first 4 are 'go here and dungeon crawl' types where 5 and 6 are outdoors and city sandbox respectively.

In the end this is a worthwhile AP but could use some rebuilding. Read the entire thing, put 4 at the end of 6 (after Ecarrdian is defeated but before the fleet shows up, rebuild the NPCs and treasure, figure out the storyline and better ways to expose it.

- Gauss

My experiences were quite similar to yours, Gauss. I thought the modules ran pretty good from 1 to 4, but 5 and 6 felt kind of disconnected and anti-climatic, making me rewrite a lot of it. I did a review a while back when our group beat it (Review). Still, I thought that at the time, it was pretty fun to run, especially the Six-Fold Trial and the exploration of Delvehaven.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Our group did 1,2,3, then 5, and we're getting back to 4 in January, plus a number of side adventures.

BTW, Tower of the Last Baron drops in perfectly.

And I agree, I feel like after the giant conclusion of #4, the other books could be a bit of a let-down. We'll see what happens...

BTW, Tower of the Last Baron drops in perfectly.

I am curious what adjustments you made to the module to align it with the AP. I'd like to add it in at some point, possibly after Bastards of Erebus where there is a natural break or after What Lies in Dust. However, the motivations of the PCs appear to differ between the module and the AP as it is not the goal of the PCs in the AP to overthrow Chelish rule and order (granted, I concede that path is open to the PCs).

But if my group sticks with the general motivations of the AP, I don't think assisting Andoren in keeping claim on a border town would sit well with the people of Westcrown they are trying to inspire.


Awesome recap sir!
That said, just for curiosity what point build did you use for your PCs?

That's some great feedback, thanks for sharing!

I'm very interested in moving book 4 at the end of the campaign, but then the pit fiend doesn't really make sense as a villain for the whole campaign... So maybe rkaus2's suggestion makes more sense.

Lithrac, the Pit Fiend isnt a villain for the whole campaign if you move it to the end. The Villain for the whole campaign remains the same. The Pit Fiend would act as the 'bomb' at the end.

To phrase it another way: You beat the big bad evil guy, but he left behind a nuke that is about to go off. You have to find the nuke and diffuse it. Kind of the BBEG's last FU gesture.

It still requires rebuilding all of #4 to match the power levels of the PCs if it is stuck at the end of the AP.

- Gauss

Interesting thought, thanks Gauss. If done so, it could be interesting to rewrite book four as a race against time, since the PCs have to restore the peace before Vourne arrives. That way, you assume the PCs need to do the Nessian Spiral in one go, and thus don't need to change the adventure too much.

That being said, I'm growing fond of the idea to set book four between five and six. I makes sense: after retrieving the Morrowfall, the PCs move to destroy Ilnerik and close the Pathfinder society / shadow beasts chapter. Then Aberian's Folly blows up, setting in motion the final events of the AP.

Lithrac, right. A Race against time, with a big boom at the end. Revamp the power levels but not much else (by that time there will be a 4 or 5 level difference in power levels).

Putting book 4 between 5 and 6 could also work. But I would still see that as something of a letdown. *shrugs*

Perhaps in the middle of 6..between the 'small situations' and the final battle.

- Gauss

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

CoT is my favorite AP so far (we have played all or part of 8 of them). The thing that made it work for me is that our PCs were leaders of a minor noble house with political ambitions, so they were very involved and committed to Westcrown. (We tried that in CotCT too, but that AP leaves its city behind and never develops the city-based game.) With 6 modules in one place we really got to know Westcrown.

My advice:

Downplay the hints in #1 that this adventure is about opposing House Thrune. It isn't, and this is a potential derail.

Reverse modules 4 and 5--we did and it worked great.

Give the PCs a different motivation for the murder play than getting into the Folly. Figure out something the PCs need from Aberian and have the murder play be his asking price. I wish we had done this--with politically ambitious PCs it would have been easy. Getting into the Folly is a very weak motivator: the PCs can do it some other way quite easily.

Make the nightbeasts more of an ongoing problem, and allow some intermediate victories against them--we hit a nightbeast breeding facility and a dark-folk temple complex. This allows you to foreshadow Ilnerik and Eccardian more.

Add side material. We put in Savage Tide 1 and 2 intermixed with CoT 1 and 2 and that worked great. We also added a lot of side stuff like the nightbeast facility and a couple of Eccardian-motivated blowups at various Houses. Our Eccardian was portrayed as a master at finding the weak link in a House and inciting that person to destroy it--he did at least three on-stage, with the PCs only able to do damage control. This made him seem much more of a big deal. (He tried to recruit the PCs, too, and that was an interesting thread.)

Finally, this was player-driven and I don't know if the GM could make it happen otherwise, but our PCs got involved early in a plan to light parts of the Spera at night, and that was a constant source of plot ideas as well as a very satisfying accomplishment when it finally worked. We also had a PC voted onto the Council of Thieves itself, somewhere around 4-5, and that was very cool.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I think most APs are more fun for a custom-built themed party than for random adventurers (RotRL perhaps the least so).

Our custom party for CoT were members of a petty noble house fallen on hard times, but with ambition for economic and political improvement. We had the heir to the House (sorcerer), her two tiefling siblings (fighter and sorcerer), her nursemaid/bodyguard (rogue), and her pet scholar (cleric of the Mwangi deity that the Morrowfall is tied to--that was fun!)

This leads to a more political game, but if the GM is up for it I think it works great. I cherish the scene where the lead PC, newly a member of the Council of Thieves, confronted Vasindo Dravinge with the answer to the nightbeast riddle and received the reply, "Well done. You're reacting much more calmly than most people do when they find out."

With a setup like this, when a PC becomes Mayor of Westcrown there is a chance that s/he will actually have a plan for using that position, rather than it being a throw-away endgame reward as such things normally are. (One of the tiefling siblings became head of the Spera Dottari, too.)

Incidentally, if you have tieflings--and this campaign is very good for them--be sure to decide right away if tieflings are immune to Charm Person, Hold Person, etc. It will matter and the source material is contradictory. Our lead PC is a human-looking tiefling trying to pass as human, and it *really* mattered for us. (I don't know what Aberian will do if/when he ever realizes he is married to a tiefling. Should be exciting. She currently has the upper hand politically but he could make things sticky for her if he chose.)

Curiousity: what source material is contradictory on the Charm/Hold Person stuff? It is pretty clear as far as I am aware. Tieflings are Outsiders and that is a different type from Humanoids. Thus they are not subject to such spells. Note: I think they should be humanoids and native outsiders both but that is not currently the rules.

- Gauss

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber


My PC's are interested in opposing the current rulers of Westcrown, ending slavery, (especially halfling slavery), and helping the people of Westcrown.

We've added a few side adventures, includeing parts of Mad God's Key, a PFS adventure, parts of the old Adam's Wrath, and both of the Rat King adventures from Dungeon Crawl Classics, plus a conversion of A1, secrets of the slaver's stockade (and thanks for that).

We fit in Tower of the Last Baron after book three. We broke the PCs and the children of Westcrown into three groups, and send one to the Tower of the Last Baron. The PC paladin from Andoran elected to go, along with some of the children. They managed to overcome the difficulties of the adventure, but the last two fights were a huge challenge.

Given the mixed party, the the challenge level was just about right, and the paladin has a code that forces him after the most dangerous opposition, so it's easy to run fights that have one bad guy and several assistants on the opposite side.

The PCs have set up parts of Piren's Bluff as part of their underground railroad to Andoran, having previously worked out a route through the sewers and made friends with a noble in the countryside.

They just defeated the shadowbeasts and Ilnerik, and the railroad is about to start up in a big way. We resume on Monday.

Sounds epic. Thanks for sharing.


I'm currently running this right now and I've talked to my party about ending at 13th level and they all agree that they would like to play to a later level. I was think they could either follow character storylines or move on to removing House of Thrune from Cheliax.

Pixel325 wrote:
I'm currently running this right now and I've talked to my party about ending at 13th level and they all agree that they would like to play to a later level. I was think they could either follow character storylines or move on to removing House of Thrune from Cheliax.

Get the Tomb of the Iron Medusa PF module. It's for level 13 iirc, and fits perfectly. With a little foreshadowing it can be pretty epic. I'm hoping my PbP group goes this route if we complete CoT.

Sunderstone wrote:
Pixel325 wrote:
I'm currently running this right now and I've talked to my party about ending at 13th level and they all agree that they would like to play to a later level. I was think they could either follow character storylines or move on to removing House of Thrune from Cheliax.
Get the Tomb of the Iron Medusa PF module. It's for level 13 iirc, and fits perfectly. With a little foreshadowing it can be pretty epic. I'm hoping my PbP group goes this route if we complete CoT.

My friend has the PDF and it looks pretty awesome. Thanks.

Also, has anyone who has ran this, or played this, had a problem with the PCs wanting Arael to step down from the leadership of Children of Westcrown (My group renamed it Order of the Rising Sun. No hints as to what deity they follow there.) or even talk of killing him if he refuses? And if they should how much trouble will that cause down the line? I haven't read through the whole AP yet. I guess I need to though.

Arael is used as one method for disseminating information. You will need to find other ways to give them information if that occurs. It should not be a problem to do this.

One possible complaint about CoT is that in the first book the Children of Westcrown were made out to be a big deal. Frankly, unless the GM takes steps to do something different they almost drop off the radar after that. Occassional peices of information, a possible hostage situation or two, and an assault against the safehouse are all that they have to do with the adventure in subsequent books.

- Gauss

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nothing bad happens if Arael isn't in charge. My players, though, were more than happy to have him handle all of the day to day business.

If they want to be in charge, give them tasks like scheduling the next meeting, if you want to be mean.

Arael is still useful as a potion vendor, and spellcasters for hire, only the most arrogant pcs will do away with him entirely.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just wrapped. After finishing book 5, PC's went into book 4, after waiting a good while to investigate.


They managed to negotiate past the rings of defenses around the Spiral, and went down inside. As a 9th level party, the thieves weren't too much trouble.

I wanted to foreshadow the effectiveness (and remind the PCs of) the Drovenges, so I had the Drovenges make a run for Liebdage themselves. they were working on the doors when the PC's rushed in.

There was a very messy multi-sided fight, between the PC's, the librarian, and the Drovenges. The inevitable came in on the side of the PCs, and after one death and one petrification, the PCs drove them off.

And this felt reasonable, neither Drovenge is much good against a construct with DR 10/chaotic.

The PCs then moved inside, having shut down NONE of the cooling chambers. I had thought this would be a possibility, and had prepped a straight up stat block, with 6 negative levels but none of that staggered BS.

To my surprise, the PCs started out negotiating, but it eventually turned into a fight. Which they lost. When they were down to a cohort dog and the imp from book two; they decided to negotiate.

In exchange for the contract, an agreement to not destroy or rule over Westcrown, and a 100 year exile from the borders of Cheliax, Liebdaga left.

In exchange, the PCs got to live, and only had to be confined to the pentagram for 100 years.

When the PC's awaken, we are now off the CoT storyline, and headed into Slumbering Tsar. Won't they be surprised...

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

And if anyone's interested, you can see the player-side story here:


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