Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Starfinder


Pathfinder Society


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Raynulf's Council of Thieves Thesis (Spoilers)


Council of Thieves


33 people marked this as a favorite.

SPOILER WARNING: There are spoilers. Lots of them.

Foreword: This is not a blow-by-blow account of our run-through of the adventure path, and instead a combination of review, experiences in play and from that recommendations for others (and myself, if I run it again, which I may well do).

I should also go on to say that, although I may at times be a bit critical of some of the content of the published modules, this isn't intended as a mud-slinging exercise - on the whole I love the Pathfinder Adventure Paths and recognize that in the real world of professional publishing there are such things as time, budget and page limits, which all serve as constraints, especially for ambitious projects. Indeed, the fact that the Council of Thieves inspired me to write over 200 pages of campaign notes, and this very (very) extensive dissertation speaks more of how much I loved the thing than the fact that I may pick fault from time to time.

For the sake of legibility, I'll be making heavy use of both formatting tools and spoiler tags to try and make this a little more manageable, as it is freaking huge....

But, without further ado, let's go on to the Council of Thieves.

IN SUMMARY: So is it any good?
In short: Yes. Very. But some assembly is required.

A slightly longer (and hopefully useful) explanation is that your mileage may vary with the Council of Thieves, as the adventure path hangs its hat on the PCs being heroic. If you have heroic PCs, this adventure path is excellent. If your PCs are particularly craven or mercenary... honestly you might want to consider running something else.

1) CRITICISMS
The Council of Thieves is an extremely ambitious project, but also one that has been created under duress - office relocations, release of Pathfinder as a system and so on - and the result I consider both daringly brilliant... and rather flawed. Running the campaign as-published can work, depending on your group, but to really bring this adventure home requires a fair amount of work on the part of the GM, though I personally feel this AP is worth it.

Narrative Pacing and Sequence:

The intent of the adventure path is to have two antagonists, with Sivanshin's shadow curse being a primary motivator for the PCs to take action and the first target, while the second and initially unknown antagonist, Eccardian, works behind the scenes to perpetrate an even greater evil the heroes must face. Staged antagonists are fairly classic, and as such the intent is understandable, however the adventure path also tries to have the party fight them in parallel, weaving back and forth between the two opposed groups and facing the antagonists at the end of books 5 and 6, respectively. This is actually much harder to pull off than the more traditional sequential method, and requires a much tighter control of plot hooks and reveals than the Council of Thieves manages, unfortunately.

In essence, the adventure path feels like the books are "out of sequence", which is a common comment from GMs and players, (though I would strongly dispute the common suggestion that Book 4 "The Infernal Syndrome", is actually best served being played last, as while it is dramatic, narratively Liebdaga is not that important). The crux of the issue is that Book 3 "What Lies in Dust" is entirely focused on leading the heroes toward Sivanshin and ending the shadow curse (Plot A), but the Adventure Path doesn't do so until Book 5 "Mother of Flies", whereas Book 4 "The Infernal Syndrome" is not only lodged in-between, but is entirely focused on the mayhem being caused by the Drovenges (Plot B), which narratively leads to the culmination of their scheme in Book 6 "Twice-Damned Prince".

In essence, Books 4 and 5 are narratively in the "wrong order", and force players to be "jump tracks" back and forth between plotlines and villains, rather than letting them follow a train of investigation through to its natural conclusion before continuing on to the second.

Narrative Inconsistency:

Trying to maintain narrative consistency throughout six books, with each written by a separate author is difficult to pull off, and unfortunately, the Council of Thieves struggles somewhat in this regard. There are actually quite a number of shifts in narrative, backstory (retcons) or simple inconsistencies in style and tone throughout the books, but I'll try and give the primary ones.

Adventure Background: The adventure summary is detailed in Book 1 [3 pages] detailing the events instigating the adventure path as a whole. Books 3 through 6 then spend a page each on what is essentially a recap of the adventure background in Book 1, except where it contradicts the original, changing the sequence of events, whether Eccardian's mother was killed by Vassindio (Books 1 & 6) or died in childbirth (Book 5), and why, and so on. On the most basic level, I personally found having almost a page dedicated to re-iterating the same background information to be a questionable use of page count - I still had Book 1 after all - but the fact that each retelling contradicts the previous, without any obvious narrative purpose to the retcons, made the Adventure Summary do more harm than good.

The Children of Westcrown: The premise set up in Book 1 is that the PCs join the Children of Westcrown, and the book goes on to have a segment where the PCs get to both name the organization and choose a uniform by which to conceal their individual identity and yet be recognizable as members of the team. In essence, the PCs are The Avengers, Arael is Nick Fury, Janiven is Maria Hill (or Black Widow) and the other NPC members of the group are the Agents of Shield - the PCs are the costumed superheroes with a support team, and because they have secret identities, all fame and recognition go to the team, not the individuals. This is a clever design choice as it allows the players to maintain their accumulated Fame Points even in the event of a TPK and new PC party.

This premise is then largely forgotten in subsequent books, with PC's recognized on-sight, or going to the Children of Westcrown in later books to meet a brand new character as "a tried and true member of the organization". Ultimately, you and your players need to decide whether your PCs have secret identities, and either work that into the subsequent books, or adjust the premise from the onset.

Council of Thieves: Unfortunately, the Adventure Path is not only a bit inconsistent with exactly who the heroes of the story are, but they're very inconsistent with who the villains are. In Book 1 there is not only an extensive write-up of who the Council of Thieves are, but an excellent article on Westcrown in the back, which details them even further: They started as a collective of criminal gangs, but (centuries ago) backed out of violent and petty crime and focused on smuggling, loan sharking etc and faded from the public eye and into legend. Blatant crimes exist, but they're conducted through puppet gangs outside of the city, while the Council themselves are now long-established among the nobility of the city.

In essence, they're similar to Keyser Soze from The Usual Suspects: Most consider them little more than a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night, "Rat on your dad, and the Council of Thieves will get you", while in reality they're behind many of the crimes that go on in the city, it's just that the crooks low enough on the totem pole to get busted from time to time don't know they work for the Council of Thieves. This is a premise I and my players bought into, because it's excellent.

And yet, as the adventure path progresses into it's second half, you face veritable armies of Council cutpurses and thieves, and eventually enter a Council Guildhouse... which is a stock fantasy "Thieves' Guild", complete with deathtrap gauntlets for culling homeless initiates seeking to join and become thieves, impractical entrances, bizarre passwords/codes, and of course, a great treasury of stolen valuables. It's "classic", but it's also not remotely in keeping with the premise for what the Council of Thieves is, as set forward in Bastards of Erebus.

Quantum Indeterminate Villainy:

There are two parts to this, which essentially pose the following questions:

  • Who are Eccardian Drovenge and Ilnerik Sivanshin?
  • Where are Eccardian and Chammady?

Regarding the first; There are pages of adventure background which detail and characterize Sidonai Drovenge (not part of the AP) and his father Vassindio (only present as a corpse in book 5), but despite often describing what the antagonists have achieved, nowhere does Eccardian actually get a write-up explaining who he is, and for that matter, neither does Ilnerik Sivanshin in his current, vampiric, form. They are both blank-slate characters who make no virtually appearance within the adventure path until the very encounter in which you fight them, which, while it keeps them alive until their final fight, it makes it reduces both the drama and player satisfaction involved. The Carrion Crown AP had this same issue (albeit even more so), which was actually acknowledged in Book 6 as being a regrettable design choice. However, you as the GM can fix this.

Regarding the second: For most of the adventure path the location of it's primary antagonists is left unknown, even when the PCs are told their names early in Infernal Syndrome and their role in many events - the GM is simply not given any information of where they are nor who they work with. For Eccardian this is fair as he's taken precautions against divinations, but Chammady hasn't (according to Twice-Damned Prince. Indeed, they have virtually no named accomplices, instead the AP favours using armies of nameless and faceless (and yet numbering among the highest level NPCs in the city) minions to complete incredible feats in the entirely in the background, and without giving the GM any material as to how.

The vagueness and lack of detail of the antagonists, their forces and their actions make it a lot harder to sell the PCs on the villains than it should be, and it is the villains that make or break a story.

Sidonai - Genius or Madman?:

A question that is raised quite frequently is: "Why did Sidonai try to father a tiefling?"

The core of this question comes from the fact that, in Cheliax, tieflings are extremely prejudiced against, and the very appendix story written along with the adventure paths actually serves to emphasize how unlikely Sidonai's tactic is to succeed. Narratively having Eccardian suffer persecution his whole life due to his heritage to drive him to be the villain he is makes sense, but the conceit that Sidonai would actually attempt the bargain runs counter to common sense for a Chelaxian citizen.

The argument could be that a son of an archdevil would be powerful enough for Thrune to fear, but the half-fiends of the appendix-story weren't saved by their prowess, they were damned by it, suggesting a mammon-spawned child politically handicapped, rather than empowered.

Book 6 elaborates on Mammon's motivations, but Sidonai's remain strange, and requiring a fair degree of suspension of disbelief to "just go with it", when they are eventually revealed to the PCs.


Westcrown - City of Ambiguity:

Westcrown is a metropolis of some 114,000 souls, with large portions of the city mostly or partly abandoned (especially in Parego Dospera), indicating a lower-than normal population density, and around 5-6 square miles of city, and ten to twenty thousand buildings.

Not that the map will tell you this, because it is largely abstracted, lacking a scale of any kind (possibly its greatest sin) and for the most part doesn't even demark where the Rego (AKA district) boundaries are. Instead it largely serves as a rough 'guide' to the layout of the city, with locations created on the fly within each module... which works after a fashion, but given the entire adventure path is set within the walls, it makes it hard to sell to PCs as a home if there's so little detail (e.g. only two named taverns). I had hoped that subsequent books in the AP would add to the initial gazetteer published in book 1, but sadly, they do not, and bringing the city to life is entirely the purview of the GM.

NOTE: There are reasons why the map looks the way it does, and they are actually fairly good reasons (budget is a thing in professional publication). But the point is not why the map is rather abstract and vague, but the fact that it is. Drawing your own map is an option... but it's a ton of work. Trust me.

The second part to this is how the city gets used; For example, Rego Cader is great, bringing to mind visions of Escape from New York and similar prison-city concepts. In Book 1 it is highlighted that crossing the wall into the anarchistic ruins is a big deal - but subsequent books get somewhat casual with placing things in there, such as the Devildrome (awesome devil-summoning gladiatorial arena) which has nobles and similar moneyed audiences wandering in to Rego Cader to gamble on matches (whereas it really should have been in Crua), and little by little the original vibe of the district is lost. Other bits of strangeness include; relocating Walcourt from Rego Crua to Parego Regicona (book 1 vs. 5); the fact that the Mhartis and Ciucci estates are next to Aberian's Folly, despite the fact that Aberian's Folly cannot be the ancestral Arvanxi estate as it was formerly (20 years ago) the home of the previous Mayor; and the fact that nowhere in the modules does it ever raise the question of any difficulty getting to and from the (walled and gated) island... there are others, but I'll stop there.

In summary, Westcrown has a fantastic vibe, but suffers from an intense lack of information.

Fame and Consequence:

The concept of the PCs earning Fame points over the course of the adventure path, and having them as a currency to achieve great feats in Book 6 and in the end determine the fate of Westcrown... is awesome almost beyond words. It is also exceptionally hard to implement, and unfortunately I have a few criticisms about how it is done, but I'll focus on just the main two for now:

First off: Only the highest reward feels like victory. Hitting 89 or less sees the city go under martial law and its spirit crushed out of it, and hitting 110 or less has the PCs seen as being basically nobodies who happened to be involved but not considered instrumental to anything, and the city goes back to "The Way It Was". Only by hitting 111 are the PCs acknowledged as being heroes and does Westcrown actually get any better. That's harsh. Damn harsh. I know if I went through the 1-2 years it typically takes to play through and wound up with a 110-or-under result, it would be a be a very bitter tasting victory indeed.

Secondly: The method of scoring for the fate of Westcrown is really wonky, and while hitting the best result is certainly possible, it demands something very specific:

  • The PCs have at least one high charisma character (e.g. Sorcerer)
  • The PCs earn every fame point available in Books 1-5 (32)
  • The PCs spend no fame points in Book 6
  • The PCs do all content in Book 6 for maximum Popularity gain (without spending Fame).
  • Either: There are a lot of PCs for more assists; The PC making the check have the Leadership feat; The PC making the check have a Circlet of Persuasion.

To put things in perspective, the best result is to enter with 32 Fame (+32), to spend none and thus have 32 unspent Fame at the end (+32), earn the entire 23 Popularity available (+23), for a total of +85, requiring a further +15 to come from assists (+2 per PC), Charisma, Leadership and/or Circlet of Persuasion to have a mere 50% chance of getting the best result at the end. If you're playing the pregens with their gear and feats - it's not happening. If you spend Fame to consolidate your alliance with the nobles or hellknights you're almost guaranteed to miss out on the best ending, despite this being completely counterintuitive.

In terms of "Maximum Achievable Result", noting this basically involves knowing the system and designing specifically for the result: Human Sorcerer with starting Charisma 18 + 2 racial + 2 from levels + 6 from headband and +2 from tomes for a total of Cha 30 (+10), then add Leadership (+4), Circlet of Persuasion (+3), 5 other PCs assisting (+10), 32 Fame (+32), 0 Fame Spent (+32), All objectives hit for 23 Popularity (+23) = +114.

Coupled with the rather harsh outcome from the lower results, the scoring methodology misses the mark by a significant margin, in my opinion. I wound up creating an alternate system that worked well in my game, and have listed it in the "Heroism, Fame and Consequence" section, in case it's of use to anyone else.

2) COMPLIMENTS
Despite the above criticisms, this adventure path has a lot going for it, and is, in my opinion, worth the extra effort needed to really bring the city and it's plight to life - so much so I've pencilled in running it again with a different group when I get the chance. The campaign has it's highlights, but the concept of gathering Fame (AKA Influence) through your deeds over the course of the campaign until you can finally use that currency to shape the fate of Westcrown? Epic.

If I'm brief in this section, it's mainly because this post is already somewhat epic, and I've tried to cover the highlights in the individual book sections later.

My hat comes off to the Paizo team for this one.

Westcrown - A Dying Home:

Westcrown is a gorgeous setting; urban decay, lost glory, dead gods, failed prophecy and mysterious curses. More than that, it is the home for both the PCs are the entire adventure path, allowing a degree of investment that many adventure paths discourage as the PCs are fighting for their homes, families and future.

It feels like the unholy combination of Florence, Gotham and Escape from New York, and is a giant canvas upon which for the PCs to paint their heroic deeds.

I love the damn(ed) place, and hopefully by the end of the adventure path, you will too.

Get Your Avengers On:

Masked vigilantes with secret identities, a hidden lair and a potion/gadget man gearing them up for missions?

Oh hell yes.

More seriously, my earlier analogue to the Avengers is an apt one - Bastards of Erebus leans heavily towards the comic book superhero genre in feel, and it is something that works beautifully within the adventure path as a whole. If you can sell your players on this, it is absolutely worth it.

More Than Heroes, More Than an Adventure:

Council of Thieves isn't about just the PCs, nor just defeating some Big Bad. It's about the future of the city, it's about PCs who give a damn about their homes and it's about making a stand in Westcrown's darkest chapter and forging a better world.

If you have players who long for this kind of heroic tale, then the Council of Thieves' can deliver, and do so in spades.

If you have players who really, really want to be murderhobos... then there are more suitable APs out there.

3) LESSONS LEARNED & RECOMMENDATIONS
Having GM'd the Council of Thieves, I learned a lot about it's strengths & weaknesses, as well as those of my own fumbling attempts to add and amend content as we went. Rather than give a blow-by-blow accounting, I figured I'd try to distill it into something more usable... And yes, there is a certain irony in using "distill" given the size of this beast.

I'll cover module-specific recommendations within the individual sections, however there are some more general or "foundation work" things that I'd strongly suggest a prospective GM tackle before attempting to start the AP.

Suggestions About PCs:

Charisma matters.

While your PCs need to be able to fight, they also need to be able to inspire others and be the shining champions of the city (and at one point, actors). This is generally easier all around if most of them didn't dump their Cha as low as possible.

In order to be fairly even-handed with the PCs and avoid favouring Cha-based spellcasters, I'd recommend the following:

  • Minimum Charisma 10 for any PC
  • No ability score above 18 at character creation (including racial adjustments)
  • 20 point buy (or 25 if you're game, just not 15 point buy as it penalizes most martial classes too much to add the min Cha requirement)

To McGuffin or Not to McGuffin:

One of the premises with this adventure path is the somewhat nebulous abilities and properties of the Aohl artefact and its two component halves, the Totemrix and Morrowfall. The former is keyed to a dead demon lord of shadow (Hint: Nocticula ate him) which turned Sivanshin into a vampire, and the latter to a dead or forgotten sun god which drove Bisby insane.

The published effects of these two artefacts don't actually line up with their narrative ability - prior to picking it up, Morrowfall radiates light that weakens vampires and fires beams of sunlight at will that destroy or injure them... but once collected turns into a six-pack of a Spell-in-a-Can item, with a few castings per day of some spells and constant daylight (which doesn't bother vampires at all). Totemrix only functions as a McGuffin to allow Sivanshin to create the shadow curse.

Even with the oddity aside, I found the use of the artefacts, as well as the recovery of the Morrowfall as the climax of What Lies in Dust to be a rather cumbersome and ultimately not overly satisfying, and thus scrapped them both. But that's me personally. I'd suggest one of the following two approaches;

OPTION 1: REDESIGN:Revise the function of the two artefacts to make their abilities slightly more in light with what they're intended to do, as well as make Sivanshin a tad more interesting.

Totemrix [Neck slot]: The bearer of this artefact is permanently clad in shadows, drawn from the plane of shadow itself, and as such is immune to all light based effects (including the effect of sunlight on vampires), and capable of casting darkness at-will, and step between shadows as if with dimension door as a move action, 5 times per day. The artefact is, however, cursed, once donned, the amulet cannot be removed except with remove curse and a caster level check against DC30, and each day at dusk will cause 1d4 points of Constitution drain (Fort DC25 negates) which cannot be regained while the artefact is worn, until the target is slain, immediately after which they rise as a vampire (mastermind), their alignment changing to Evil, though they retain all class levels and abilities. A vampire wearing this artefact can use their Children of the Night ability to summon horrific creatures from the shadow plane, which remain until dismissed or killed - creatures so summoned are typically native to the shadow plane, or have the Shadow Creature or Nightmare Creature templates, and the vampire can summon a number of hit dice of such creatures equal to half their own HD per use of Children of the Night. Finally, any vampires or vampire spawn they create, they can both see through their eyes (as the Mastermind ability), and briefly possess their minions bodies to speak through them, though they cannot employ their own spells or abilities through their minions, merely communicate.

Morrowfall [Neck Slot]: The wearer of this amulet is bathed in radiant light - as long as the amulet is exposed (i.e. not hidden under clothes) it radiates constant daylight as per the spell, however this light is particularly potent and deals 2d6 light damage per round to all undead, as well as affecting them as if with consecrate. Additionally, they are immune to negative energy effects, as if under death ward. Three times per day, the bearer can focus the power of Morrowfall to produce one of two effects: They can fire a beam of energy, as if casting a maximized searing light at CL20th; or they can cause the Morrowfall to radiate 60ft radius of sunlight (bright illumination for another 60ft, dim for 60ft beyond) for a duration of Concentration, up to a maximum of 10 rounds. Despite the incredible benefits of Morrowfall it is still a cursed artefact and cannot be willingly removed without a remove curse and DC30 caster level check, and each day at dawn it attempts to impart a mania (DC20 Will save negates) to find the Totemrix and complete the Aohl, and if the wearer already has the mania, it inflicts 1 point of Wisdom drain on a failed Will save, which cannot be regained while the artefact is worn.

OPTION 2 - REMOVE & REPLACE: As an alternative to redesigning the artefacts to be more... well... interesting, the option I personally chose was simply to remove them altogether. I instead had Sivanshin and Bisby recover more than just one artefact, but dozens of rubbings of ancient murals and texts, artefacts and ancient silver-foil scrolls from the empire of Shadows that once ruled within Mwangi - vampiric priest-kings of Vyriavaxus whose power and civilization collapsed with the death of their patron at Nocticula's hands. Bisby wanted to publicize the findings immediately in order to impress locals and Lodge alike - enough to compensate for the tragic loss of the vast majority of the expedition - whereas the more cautious Sivanshin wanted time to study their findings before going public, despite the risk of the Amber Privateers being shut down.

While Bisby politicked and stalled in an ever more desperate fashion, Sivanshin studied dark and forbidden lore, tension between them quickly rose, until it came to blows in the depths of Delvehaven as Bisby murdered Sivanshin with the very artefacts he was studying, dumped Sivanshin's body into the sewers, and stole an armful of the remaining artefacts and papers to put on display. Unwittingly, Bisby had completed the ritual Sivanshin had dared not complete - the transformation into a shadow-blessed Vampire; capable of manifesting in physical form even in direct sunlight or running water while his soul remained trapped within the phylactery-blade that lay in the Amber Arca. Weeks later, Sivanshin awoke in the depths of the harbour, and after swimming to the surface found the city engulfed in civil war, and the sun burning harshly (but not lethally) on his skin. Climbing aboard a fleeing ship, he escaped the city to Nidal, where he gained his strength and came to grips with his new nature.

Mechanically:

  • Sivanshin lacks any of the normal weaknesses of vampires, though his spawn do not.
  • Sivanshin and vampires he creates are capable of summoning and controlling shadow beasts, as per Totemrix
  • Sivanshin is capable of casting shadow walk as a spell-like ability (CL20) three times per day.
  • If his phylactery is ever destroyed, he and his spawn lose the above benefits, except that he still controls any shadow beasts summoned, but cannot summon any more.

Bisby did not escape consequences of his deeds either. Although his displays and findings won him back the fame and adulation he craved, his conscience gnawed at him - he stood alone in the limelight, while his old friends and comrades lay dead in the Mwangi jungle, or rotting in the sewers by his own hand. Tormented by guilt and grief, and unwilling to face the return of the God of Man with so much blood on his hands, he locked himself in the Amber Arca and hung himself on the even of Aroden's prophesised return.

Narrative Re-Sequencing:

Run Mother of Flies before Infernal Syndrome.

The above takes a little work, but less than you would expect, all things considered. I covered most of the reasoning why in the Criticisms section, but to summarize again: Books 1-3 are entirely about gearing up to solve and end the shadow curse and so lead naturally towards Mother of Flies, which is (mostly) about ending the shadow curse. Infernal Syndrome is a complete change in gears that throws the PCs against the Council of Thieves directly, and given the anarchy caused within the book actually plays beautifully as a lead in to book 6.

Trust me: It'll fix a lot of problems in the later in the AP.

Known Your Villains:

The published adventure path will not tell you who Eccardian or Sivanshin are, gives only a brief view at Chammady (combined, they have less detail than Cinnabar, a one-time enemy from History of Ashes), and no detail at all on exactly how their organization looks.

Drawing another comparison to Curse of the Crimson Throne, one of the things that made Ileosa such an effective villain was the fact that she wasn't alone - she had allies and a support network around her that gave her authority and menace a substance and her deeds a plausibility that forced players to take her and her power base seriously. The antagonists of the Council of Thieves, however, have vaguely defined power bases throughout the adventure path, and even when numbers are hinted at, they're a bit lacking - Westcrown is a big place.

So it's up to you, the GM, to decide who Eccardian, Chammady and Sivanshin are, and give them distinct personalities you can bring to the table. A greater challenge is trying to find ways for these personalities to come across at the table throughout the adventure path without letting the PCs throw themselves at them, swords in hand, or feeling stonewalled (always a challenge and depends mostly on your group). Personally... I failed to do that with Sivanshin - I used him as written, and he came out as a rather humdrum adversary. Chammady I managed to use more extensively and give some life to, and the blank-slate that is Eccardian I wound up making little more than a meat-body for Mammon's will who constantly charmed his 'sister' to keep her loyal.

The second part is trying to actually give these villains a power base: Who are their lieutenants and operatives? Where do they lair? What are their interests? How do they get around (particularly important for Sivanshin)? Some check-lists for you to consider:

Ilnerik Sivanshin:

  • Is he cold and calculating? Broody? Does he mourn his undead state? What's his attitude towards life and the living? Does he consider vampirism a blessing or a curse?
  • What does he think of Eccardian and Chammady? Is he loyal? Is he willing to betray their secrets? Why? Has Eccardian offered his sister to the vampire as his deathly bride should their scheme succeed? What's the relationship between these villains, and how can it play out at the table?
  • Is Silana his only concubine, or does he have a Dracula-esque tendency to collect more?
  • By default, he's a Mastermind vampire who can have up to 52 thrall vampires and spawn, but only a handful are in the published module. Does he have vampiric lieutenants who serve him? Can some of these vampires be leading his shadow army elsewhere in the city, for the PCs to encounter earlier in the AP?
  • Can he use his Mastermind ability to speak through his minions as well, letting the heroes 'meet' him without fighting him directly?
  • Does the effect of the Totemrix pass on to his vampiric thralls while he possesses it? Can they be used to bolster his shadow army above the paltry 52 he is normally limited to?
  • What other shadow beasts can he summon, other than Shadowgarms (CR2, 2d6 at a time), Shadows (CR3, 1d4+1 at a time), Shadow Rat Swarms (CR4, 1d4 at a time) and Shadow Mastiffs (CR5, 1d3 at a time)? The Shadow Creature template is a fun one to play with here, as it lets you find a theme you like and template it to suit.
  • Where does his army go during the day? Is Walcourt the only lair, or does he have many lairs around the city? Given that he needs to lurk both on the island and the mainland, how does he handle the lack of bridges?

Chammady Drovenge:

  • Chammady is described (not in these words, admittedly) as being the velvet glove to Eccardian's iron fist; what is her role in their partnership? Does she work as the 'face' of the new Council, or does she work from the shadows? Are the council turncoats loyal to her, or to Eccardian?
  • Her description casts her as beautiful, dangerous, proud, intelligent and enjoying playing mind games. Is this the description you want to want to run with? Why is does she have that attitude? Is she really best suited as Ranger 10 / Assassin 4 with Int 10 (for a Death Attack DC13 even including her Assassin's Dagger, which is less than her assassin minions -_-) and no ranks in Sense Motive.... or do you want to adjust her build somewhat?
  • Why is she doing what she's doing? How does she feel about the misogyny rife within her family and the nobility at large (as described in Bastards of Erebus)? How does she feel about the prejudice against tieflings in Cheliax? Why does she feel that way?
  • Does she value Pride or Victory? If the former, is she actually going to be sleeping with a social-pariah patriarch of a rapidly declining minor house just to use his basement? Noting she and Eccardian are heirs to the most powerful of Westcrown's great houses.
  • Does she have any schemes or hobbies on the side? Does she have any allies or associates that are specifically hers? Are the PCs likely to run into her from time to time, outside of the Cornucopia and Devildrome?
  • Where does she live? Where is she generally to be found through books 1 through 5?
  • Does she meet the people the siblings 'deal with' in person? What is her role in events such as the assassinations in Books 4-5?
  • Given the events of Book 6 (read ahead), do you want her to be redeemable? If so, consider her above attitudes and motivations, and consider adjusting to suit. If not, consider how to handle the final encounter to enact the "Evil turns on itself" theme.
  • Is Chammady romanceable? If so, what sort of person interests her? Is such a thing a path to redemption, a path to corruption (for the PC as she usurps her brother and the two rule Westcrown together) or doomed to a tragic end?
  • Note on Stats: If you intend the PCs to fight Chammady, you need to pay attention to your party make-up as she is very biased towards fighting humans; between favoured enemy and bane she's adding +8 to attack and 2d6+8 damage per dagger attack vs. humans, making her quite deadly against them, and decidedly not against other races.

Eccardian Drovenge:

  • Who is Eccardian Drovenge? Is he volatile and filled with rage? Is sullen and broody? Does he hide behind a sense of humour? Does he like to snark?
  • How does he feel about his sister? Is he devoted? Is he possessive? Does he consider her a peer, a protector or an underling?
  • Is he in a relationship? Has he ever been in one? Is he insecure and inexperienced? Is he confident? Suave? Flat out asexual? Is he romanceable? If for some reason you go this route, consider both his tastes and how it would impact the story (it's probably doomed, but hey... that is also fun).
  • How does he feel about humanity? How does he feel about other tieflings? Does he consider humans to be lesser beings? Does he consider tieflings to be his peers, or misbegotten scum from inferior devils? Is he interested in overturning the prejudice against tieflings, or does he not care?
  • What is Eccardian's role in their partnership? Does he lurk exclusively in the shadows, or does he socialize or have a network of his own? Does he have loyal lieutenants or agents who enact his will?
  • Why doesn't Eccardian have a Hat of Disguise or Greater Hat of Disguise?
  • How does Eccardian complement his sister? Is he intended to be socially adept? Is he stealthy and agile, or brutally powerful? Does his published build of Rogue 10 / Duellist 4 suit the style statement you want him to have? Consider changing it if need be. In fact, consider changing it anyway.

Drovenge Family Drama:

At the core of the events of the Council of Thieves adventure path is the drama of the dysfunctional Drovenge family, however, despite the importance to the narrative it gets virtually no actual 'camera time', which lessons the impact of Eccardian and Chammady significantly. I can say whole-heartedly that it is worth getting the players a seat in the stage of this horrible drama as it plays out.

So how does one give the players a look-in to the drama that is at the heart of the entire adventure path? Well, here are a few ideas:

  • Star-Power: With the PCs rise to stardom in the Sixfold Trial there is potential to make the theatre an ongoing part of the campaign, and either Chammady, Eccardian or Vassindio Drovenge may harbour a secret passion for the dark plays of the Chelaxian stage, and as long as the PC(s) keep their heroic identities separate from their stage personas, they could find a patron among the Drovenge family.
  • Devildrome Champions: Chammady has a weakness for the spectacle that is the Devildrome and it's devil-summoning gladiatorial matches - and after the PC(s) take the Hellcaller Cup in What Lies in Dust, they may well need to return to defend their title. Chammady, meanwhile, may well end up as something of a fan or even sponsor - the venue giving the PCs a chance to see who she is and possibly gain some insight into the family drama.
  • No Mister Rebel, I expect you to die: Vassindio Drovenge is one of the leaders of the old Council of Thieves and something of a tyrant - when the Children of Westcrown start making waves in his city, they may well come into conflict with the loyalist Council of Thieves long before the Drovenge siblings usurp leadership of the organization. This introduces Vassindio as a "gentleman villain" working to foil their efforts. This works best in books 2-3, and allows a chance to introduce the old man and primary instigator of the whole plot.
  • I Need An Outsider: Conversely, Vassindio may well decide that the efforts to uncover the source of unrest within his organization are being thwarted by the questionable loyalty of his minions, and that it is time to bring in an outsider to help find the truth of the matter. This would allow the introduction of Vassindio as a character, insight into the strife within the organization and potentially see a (probably short-lived) working relationship between the old guard (they're not going to TELL people they're the Council of Thieves) and the Children of Westcrown.
  • Plots and Betrayal: If Eccardian and Chammady's relationship is not unbreakable and founded on complete trust, they may well be plotting against one another, and potent up-and-coming street heroes could be a useful ally or puppet.
  • Love Across the Battlefield: If you get the opportunity to introduce Chammady or Eccardian (likely using a Hat of Disguise), one of the PCs may well attempt to court the character, especially if they're presented as being potent, important or otherwise interesting characters. As neither the PCs nor villains should know that they are destined to be opposed to one another in later books (Assuming the PCs go with the secret-identity theme from Bastards of Erebus), a romance could very well start off which entangles a PC in the personal lives of the Drovenges, and makes things very entertaining later.

The Council of Thieves:

Among some of my criticisms of the adventure path was the treatment of the Council of Thieves as an organization - notably, that it's very nature appeared to change over the course of the Adventure Path from a hybrid of Mafia and Iluminati to a more 'stock' fantasy thieves' guild.

Now, tastes may vary and some may well prefer the idea of an organization with hidden ninja training facilities and stockpiles of stolen artworks... but I prefer the original vision of the Council; A secret cartel of the rich and powerful controlling the city and trade (legal and otherwise) within it. (To my mind stockpiles of stolen artworks are unlikely, given the richest people in the city are the Council members.)

If that appeals to you too, then I would suggest the following:

THE COUNCIL: The adventure path never actually states who the Council were, though it did drop a few names - notably all noble patriarchs. Going with a Council of Thirteen for the fun of it, I'd suggest the following;

  • Vassindio Drovenge (LE male human aristocrat 14): Patriarch of the most influential noble house in Westcrown, Drovenge, and Chairman of the Council.
  • Eirtein Oberigo (LE male human rogue 6): Patriarch of House Oberigo (2nd in influence to Drovenge) and Head of Discipline for the Council, managing enforcement and maintaining discipline and order within the organization and it's puppet gangs.
  • Rosano Salisfer (LE male human warpriest of Asmodeus 7): Patriarch of House Salisfer and Head of Eliminations, managing assassinations and abductions, as required.
  • Herana Julistarc (NE female human aristocrat 4 / rogue 4): Wife of Julistarc's patriarch, Ocatav, and only female member of the Council. She fulfils the role of Head of Relations, and manages the task of disguising Council activities and brokering alliances.
  • Teranal Dioso (NE male human aristocrat 8): Patriarch of House Dioso and Head of Information, managing the Council's spy network and informants.
  • Archpriest Despada (LE male human aristocrat 4 / cleric of Asmodeus 9): Local leader of the church of Asmodeus and Head of Faith for the Council, managing the organizations interactions with the Asmodean church and others.
  • Sandano Vitaron (LE male human aristocrat 10): Patriarch of House Vitaron and representative of House Mezinas to the Council, and serves as Head of Repayments, managing the Council's extortion and loan sharking.
  • Molovarn (LE male human rogue 11): Molovarn is "New money", having made his fortunes as a cut-throat slave trader and entrepreneur, he was quickly assimilated into the Council, where his fortunes have only grown since. He serves as Head of Servants and manages the Council's slave trade.
  • Durotas Scasi Bolvona (NE male human sorcerer 5): Durotas of the condottari, he serves to ensure that the canal wardens do not interfere with Council plans, and serves as Head of Shipping, managing the shipping and port access for the Council.
  • Velushi Rosala (LE male human aristocrat 8): Younger brother to the Rosala patriarch, he serves as Head of Armaments, and manages the lucrative weapons smuggling operations of the Council.
  • Lantanio (LE male human cleric of Abadar 5): While a minor priest within the church of Abadar, he provides the Council with discrete banking services and serves as Head of Accounts.
  • Neradal Khollarix (NE male human aristocrat 5): Eldest son of Khollarix patriarch, Stengarin, Neradal not only represents their interests within the Council, but serves as Head of Associates, managing the acquisition and direction of puppet gangs and similar organizations.
  • Iradanial (LE male human expert 6): While not nobility, Iradanial has a small merchant empire (no small thanks to the Council), and serves the Council as Head of Substances, managing the Council's narcotics trade.

The "roles" are mostly there to give some flavour to the individual Council members, as well as provide a potential hook for using them in your game (feel free to adjust as need be).

MEMBERSHIP: The big question of "So which noble families ARE allied with the Council?" is one that is never truly answered. In my version, the Council Membership looks like this (excluded noble families both great and small are not associated with the Council):

  • Drovenge (Imvius, Xerysis)
  • Oberigo (Aulamaxa, Ghival)
  • Salisfer (Chillarth)
  • Julistarc (Seidraith)
  • Dioso (Ucarlaar, Bolvona - elevated to minor nobility)
  • Khollarix (Rufano)
  • Rosala (Ulvauno)
  • Mezinas (Vitaron)

PERSONNEL: Rather than having armies of thieves and cutpurses (they don't "do" petty crime), the Council of Thieves instead uses mercenaries or noble's men-at-arms for most common enforcement activities, or trained agents usually drawn from the noble families of the membership.

When a Council assassin comes for you, they're well spoken, well dressed, well educated, thorough, utterly loyal to the Council and virtually impossible to get information out of short of mind-affecting magic. Agents of the Council who know they're agents of the Council have class. It makes them a better villain.

A lesser form of agent I dub a "Cleaner" is an individual who knows they work for the Council, but serves in a lesser role of supporting the Council assassins, or guarding premises.

FACILITIES: Rather than having secret hideaways with deadly death-traps, convoluted entrances and strange passwords... most of the time the Council meet in secret chambers within the Viras and Vaneos of those who sit on the Council. They don't contain stockpiles of 'stolen valuables', because they own most of the valuables in the city and aren't going to steal from themselves.

What they do have need of, is facilities for handling things that would be suspicious being in their own homes, such as stockpiles of illegal goods or extensive records on their activities. For these they need some nice, out of the way places - such as Walcourt. Such secret facilities are not ninja training grounds, generally a comfortable, clean environment clad in a veneer of ruin and grime, with warehousing and secret tunnels beneath and offices, scriptoriums and archives above. Because managing a successful criminal business still requires the same (or more) effort as managing a successful legal business. Such facilities normally have barracks for "Cleaners" who watch over the premises, but only in limited numbers.

PUPPET ORGANIZATIONS: It is through puppet organizations (gangs, mercenary companies, companies etc) that the Council truly shows it's muscle, as when it becomes time to put the hurt on someone or something (such as the Mother of Flies), they can rally their puppet gangs into a veritable army - all the while without revealing exactly who the gangs are working for.

Generally, I would suggest having multiple such gangs, and giving each their own bit of flavour, so that as the PCs encounter the various "Thieves" or "Cutpurses" in the published adventure path, they are instead simply unknowing puppets of the Council. Some suggestions:

  • Honourable Gents: Lead by Corhan, these well dressed and disciplined gangsters run the Blood Pit in Rego Cader.
  • Westmarsh Reavers: Lead by Alexite (Stiglor's former partner), these highwaymen and brigands terrorize the roads in the Westmarsh region.
  • Leopard Pack: Lead by Rakano "The Leopard" (named for a series of scars from a childhood encounter with a giant squid), this small band of amateur highwaymen operate in the marsh just north of Westcrown.
  • Blacknapes: Lead by Captain Hudson Green of the Amber Nymph, the "Blacknapes" are a pirate band that the Council organized to obtain a letter of Marque from Aberian (without his knowledge) and unwittingly serve the Council in their shipping and piracy interests.

The Shadow Curse:

The premise of a city whose night is ruled by shadowy beasts is awesome. The dearth of any information or guidance to the GM as to what would be appropriate, and a single unique offering in the bestiaries in this regard is... well... less awesome.

I recommend putting together a somewhat more extensive toolbox of shadowy horrors to inflict on your PCs as a priority, as they can come into play within the first hour or so of Book 1.

Here are some suggestions from me (feel free to use, ignore or create your own) of relatively easy-to-use critters, sticking with a theme of vampire + shadow to some degree:
[list]

  • Shadow Creature template (CR+1, B4), Shadow Lord template (CR+2, B4) or Nightmare Creature template (CR+1, B4), any of which give a different twist to classic monsters, or completely reskin things to suit Sivanshin's theme;
  • Shadowgarm (CR2, Bastards of Erebus), Shadow (CR3, B1), Shadow Mastiff (CR5, B3); Vampiric Mist (CR3, B2); Vampire Spawn (CR4); Vampires (CR+2); Barghest (CR4); Gloomwing (CR4, B2); Wraith (CR5);
  • With Template: Bat swarm (CR2); dire bat (CR2); dog (CR 1/3); wolf (CR1); worg (CR2); krenshar (CR1, B2); giant centipede (CR1/2); stirge (CR1/2); rat swarm (CR2); dire wolf (CR3); peryton (CR4, B2); leucrotta (CR5, B2); cloaker (CR5); hungry fog (CR6, B3)

    In any case, give yourself a decent mix of creatures to ensure that the PCs can handle being out at night, but aren't able to be complacent about it.

    I'd suggest varied encounters, with a focus on small numbers of powerful creatures (or swarms) rather than groups of lesser minions or frequently encountering the same thing - familiarity breeds contempt and repetition breeds boredom. Until Sivanshin dies, the night should be strange, unpredictable and scary.

    Have fun :)


  • 5 people marked this as a favorite.

    4) HEROISM, FAME & CONSEQUENCE
    The Fame point system is a method of rewarding PCs acting like heroes and subsequently using them as a means of determining the fate of the city in Book 6.... or at least, that's the intent.

    In practice, the Fame point system stumbles with somewhat arbitrary allocation of Fame points in the first five books, and then in Book 6 having the best result only be possible by not "spending" the fame points to interact with the world. I would strongly recommend revising the approach to both gaining Fame points and spending them, and have some suggestions on how to do so (which will take a little while to explain).

    BOOK 1: Bastards Of Erebus:

    On the whole, this book is fairly balanced and sets an excellent benchmark, with bonus Fame points for doing things the "Good" (AKA not murder-hobo) way, and then options for PCs with initiative to go on mini-adventures to earn more. Indeed, the "More Heroics" sidebar bears special mention and call-out, as although it appears to be a simple side-bar, it is in fact the very heart of the adventure path as a whole: Westcrown needs heroes, and if the heroes want to see the best result of the campaign, they need to be those heroes. I would strongly recommend offering similar (and even more) optional opportunities for heroism throughout the adventure path.

    For the purpose of clarity, I'll list them out. Modifications in italics. Total Available = 8.

    • Rescuing Arael (1 Fame Point); Doing so with no Hellknight deaths (1 Fame Point)
    • More heroics: Capture bandits (1 Fame Point)
    • More heroics: Defeat Whitechin the Goblin King (1 Fame Point)
    • More heroics: Slay a Shadow Beast (1 Fame Point)
    • Defeat the Bastards of Erebus (2 Fame Points)
    • Returning the stolen goods (1 Fame Point)

    BOOK 2: The Sixfold Trial::

    The Sixfold Trial is somewhat lacking in Fame Points, despite the extreme publicity they receive (whether they want it or not), with a maximum of 5 available to gain, or the potential to wind up losing fame points if the PCs are careless with what they say. Given the timeframes involved, it is challenging to work in many "More Heroics" style missions, so I would suggest revising the Fame awards as follows (explained further in the individual chapters), for a total available of 9.

    • Final Popularity: Under 0 (-1 Fame); 0 to 20 (+0 Fame); 21-100 (+1 Fame); 101-300 (+2 Fame); 301-600 (+3 Fame); 601-1200 (+4 Fame); 1201+ (+5 Fame)
    • Gaining the trust of Crosael Rasdovain (+1 Fame)
    • Obtaining at least 5 pieces of gossip in the Cornucopia (+1 Fame)
    • Completing the Asmodean Knot (2 Fame)

    BOOK 3: What Lies in Dust:

    Book 3 is even lighter on Fame points than Book 2 - a total of 4 by default - and mostly focuses on the singular dungeon that is Delvehaven. Given the hectic schedule of the Sixfold Trials is now over, however, there is room for More Heroics to help heroic PCs help the city and build up their group's reputation. Revised total available is 9.

    • More Heroics: Slavers of Westcrown (2 Fame)
    • The Devildrome (2 Fame)
    • More Heroics: The Missing Actor (1 Fame)
    • Massacre House (1 Fame)
    • More Heroics: Onyx Dealings (1 Fame)
    • Delvehaven (2 Fame)

    BOOK 4: Mother of Flies:

    By default the Mother of Flies is book 5.... but per the above, all suggestions will be for running it as the fourth book rather than the fifth. The Mother of Flies has a generous 10 fame points available - half of which stem from returning loot (75,000gp out of over a million gp worth in the module), which is something I heartily disagree with when defeating Liebdaga is worth only three. The revised total available is 16 Fame Points, though 4 are kinda optional.

    • More Heroics: Strongarm Labour (1 Fame)
    • More Heroics: Nightmarish Stables (1 Fame)
    • More Heroics: Missing Workers (1 Fame)
    • Dusk Market: Saving Lord Xerysis (1 Fame)
    • Defeating the Council Siege of the Maggot Tree (1 Fame)
    • Defeating the Mother of Flies (2 Fame)
    • Rescuing Lord Asad Grulios (1 Fame)
    • Rescuing Lord Grulios' Family (1 Fame)
    • Returning stolen goods (1 Fame)
    • Exposing the Council Documents (1 Fame)
    • Defeating Sivanshin (3 Fame)
    • Resurrecting the Fallen (2 Fame)

    BOOK 5: The Infernal Syndrome:

    The Infernal Syndrome has a few suggested "streets gone mad" optional missions which grant both XP and fame... which is good, except the fact that the overwhelming majority of the page count is dedicated to what is essentially a superdungeon, and the "quest-givers" are outside of it. By default the PCs are likely to get 3-6 Fame, but it's worth using some of the ideas in Page 81 of the book, as well as your own to expand upon this and aim for a target of at least 10 Fame Points, but frankly the more the better (no, really, there's little point in actually constraining PC heroism at this point. Let them be as awesome and heroic as they want to be. Go nuts.).

    • Streets Gone Mad: Tiefling Outbreak (1 Fame)
    • Catching Aberian Arvanxi (1 Fame)
    • Streets Gone Mad: Stopping the Harvester (1 Fame)
    • Streets Gone Mad: Captive Nobles (1 Fame)
    • More Heroics: Crosael and the Contract (1 Fame)
    • Streets Gone Mad: Warmonger Comes (1 Fame)
    • Streets Gone Mad: Vampire Panic (1 Fame) - I discarded this, personally.
    • Breaking the Siege of Aberian's Folly (1 Fame)
    • Defeating Liebdaga (3 Fame) but feel free to increase it if you tweak the fight to be an actual challenge.

    BOOK 6: Twice-Damned Prince:

    And here is where things get fun. And even more lengthy (my apologies for that).

    The Twice-Damned Prince is where all those Fame points the PCs have collected finally pays off - or at least it should. Rather than run with the original concept where the fate of the PCs and Westcrown depended on a single Fame check at the end of the adventure, what I found worked out far more satisfying is to have the PCs acquiring (but don't give them the actual numbers) two currencies throughout this book: Victory Points and Popularity Points. There's a little bit of interplay between the two, which is described under the Popularity notes.

    VICTORY POINTS These are a measure of how well the PCs are doing at ending the anarchy, defeating Eccardian's forces and bringing peace back to the streets of Westcrown. The Victory Point total at the end of the adventure determines the fate of Westcrown, as follows:

    • 10 or less - Destruction: Surveying the carnage and chaos, Vourne agrees with Citadel Rivad - the city is beyond saving. He will summon the remaining nobility and leaders to the Marina give notice that it has come time to show mercy to the dying beast - in 24 hours, he and his fleet will put the city to the torch, and those of means and respectability should immediately depart. Although some twenty-thousand flee the city as refugees, over ninety-thousand die in the great purge of Westcrown, leaving the city a vast tomb, watched over silently by the still-shining statue of its dead patron god, Aroden.
    • 11-20 - Martial Law: Surveying the unrest and destruction, he summons the leaders of the city, but dismisses their claims about having the situation under control - he informs them he has decided a firmer hand is in order, specifically his. His troops march out into the streets, enforcing martial law and disbanding the dottari as a law-keeping force. The city survives, but the soul of it is slowly crushed beneath the iron heels of Thrune, eventually becoming little more than a glorified fortification used by Thrune as a port for their navy.
    • 21-30 - Thrune Governor: Vourne will gather Westcrown's leaders and heroes, and although they convince him that martial law is unwarranted, he remains unconvinced by their claims that any leader has the strength to maintain law and order in the city, and instead appoints a Thrune governor to replace the position of Mayor. Although the city recovers economically, the pervasive Thrune influence crushes the fragile remnants of the old order and culture of Westcrown over the coming years, eventually transforming the city into a pale imitation of Egorian.
    • 31-40 - Self-Governance: As above, Vourne will gather the heroes and leaders of the city, but finds his talk of martial law vehemently and unanimously argued down - the Wiscrani are perfectly capable of managing themselves. After an extensive debate, he authorizes for the Wiscrani to hold the right to elect their own Lord Mayor, while the dottari, hellknights and nobility put aside their differences to work for a common future. Over the years to come, Thrune watches the city closely for signs of rebellion or anarchy, but the city recovers and returns to more or less the same routine as when the adventure path began.
    • 41 or more - Vassalage: As above, Vourne gathers the heroes and leaders of the city, but barely gets halfway through his suggestion of martial law before he is summarily cut off by the nobles, dottari and hellknights alike - such actions aren't warranted, and the situation is already under control. Arguing that what works for Egorian doesn't necessarily work for Westcrown, the collected leaders successfully argue for a greater say in their future. Reeling a bit from the unexpectedly determined and united front of the Wiscrani, Vourne withdraws for a time to magically confer with his liege, Queen Abrogail II. Returning after 20 minutes looking both irritated and chastened, he announces that her Imperial Magistrix has ordained that Westcrown, including all traditionally beholden lands and settlements, has been granted anonymous vassalage - the people of Westcrown are free to rule their lands as they see fit, providing they honour all dues to their liege, including taxes, military service etc. Over the coming years a renaissance comes to the city of Westcrown as diabolic symbolic is replaced with more traditional decor, and the city becomes a hub of trade and a haven for art and culture almost lost to history.

    POPULARITY: Popularity is calculated as follows; Total Fame points earned + Combined Charisma modifiers of the PCs + Popularity Points earned, and the final result determines the fate of the PCs at the end of the adventure, as follows:

    • 0-25 - Prosecution: The Children of Westcrown are branded as heretics and traitors and arrested, as they find no support from the Wiscrani people. Fate of Westcrown: The fate of Westcrown matters little here, as the PCs get dragged off in chains.
    • 26-50 - Pardon: The Wiscrani people pressure Thrune to pardon the Children of Westcrown of any law-breaking, due to good deeds rendered, and they are permitted to go free. Fate of Westcrown: This changes slightly if the city is destroyed, but for the most part the PCs are able to simply go on with their lives.
    • 51-75 - Commended: The deeds and heroism of the Children of Westcrown see the group, and PCs in particular, receive official recognition from the crown. The Children of Westcrown are ultimately demanded to stand down as an armed force, however. Fate of Westcrown: the fate of the city plays quite a role here; In the case of a destroyed city Vourne will award them a medal and offer to take them to Egorian; In the case of martial law they will likely be offered a monetary reward; A Thrune governor might offer them a land grant near the city; Self-governance or vassalage will likely see them honoured further, with offers of future employment by the city.
    • 76-100 - Champions: The Children of Westcrown (including PCs) are hailed as heroes of the Wiscrani people and celebrated as champions of the city. As an organization, the Children of Westcrown are permitted to continue operating, but under supervision. Fate of Westcrown: The fate of the city has a heavy effect here; A destroyed city will likely ask their heroes to defend the refugees; martial law or Thrune governor will recognize their power and prestige, but seek to absorb them into their power structure; Self-governance or vassalage will grant them honours, funds and respect, asking that they become a semi-autonomous section of the dottari reporting directly to the new ruler.
    • 101 or more - Leaders: The PCs and Children of Westcrown have proven themselves to be the champions and leaders Westcrown needs, and rather than compete for titles, the city's surviving notables are unanimous in their desire to place the city in their hands. Fate of Westcrown: What becomes of the PCs at this point is entirely dependant on the fate of the city; A destroyed city will look to the PCs to lead the refugees and seek a new home; Under martial law or a Thrune governor the PCs are asked to be the right hand of the new regime, softening the harshness of life for the people of Westcrown; Self-governance will see the heroes put in as Lord Mayor and similar leadership roles within the city, while the Children of Westcrown serve them to help oversee the city functions; A vassalage has the PCs considered saviours in every sense, and turned to lead this new age - either as ennobled lords or whatever form of government seems the most appropriate.

    NB: I added the "Combined Charisma Modifiers" of the PCs because, ultimately, I believe that Charisma matters, especially when popularity measures to what degree the city looks to the PCs for leadership, so a group of PCs who all dumped Cha down to 7 will (and in my opinion, should) have a harder time winning over the populace than a group with average or high Charisma.

    That's one wall of text done, so rather than duplicate another one, I'll leave the Victory and Popularity point gain to the actual Book 6 Writeup and save some space.

    The goal is that the PCs should be able to (with difficulty) hit the maximum reward for both Victory and Popularity with 40 Fame points and a decent combined Charisma score (around +10) coming into Book 6 (NB: This is easily adjusted by giving more or less opportunities for Fame points in books 3-5, as you see fit).

    OTHER ACTIVITIES:

    There are a number of other activities the PCs can do, especially if the GM is using the suggests I've put forth in the "More Than Adventurers" section later, whereby the various organizations and allies of the PCs can be put to use to aid them in the dramatic finale of the AP. As a short list of their Book 6 uses only:

    Rally the Troops: Before or during the events of Book 6, the PCs can invest Fame and/or gold in recruiting citizens to the cause of saving the city.

    • Militia: For every 1 Fame Point spent the heroes can rally 100 common citizens to arms (typically 1st level warriors with leather armour, clubs, spears etc), and for every 400 such armed citizens they gain +1 Victory Point.
    • Soldiers: For an additional Fame Point or 20,000gp the PCs can give training, weapons and armour to 100 militia, turning them into viable soldiers (warrior 4, equipped with chain shirts, longswords, heavy shields and light crossbows) to defend the city. Every 200 such soldiers gives +1 Victory Point.
    • Seized Stockpiles: If the PCs use captured weapons and armour (for example, from the siege of the Maggot Tree), they can substitute an equivalent value to the cost of upgrading their militia to soldiers.

    Baradin's Forgeworks: If allied/owned.

    • Reduces the cost of upgrading militia to soldiers to 15,000gp per 100 due to discounted weapons and armour available.
    • (If plans were recovered from the Infernal Syndrome) Scrap Sentinels (treat as Junk Golems with the advanced simple template, but missing their disease special attack and don't leave trails of trash) can be produced at a rate of 3 per 1d4 days, at a cost of 1 Fame Point and 20,000gp per set, but each such set grants the heroes +1 Victory Point

    White Raven: (If owned)
    Crewing the White Raven gives the PCs a disguised military vessel that can function as a mobile base of operation, transport or assault vehicle during the final confrontation. If the PCs captured and spent the necessary resources to have it running, they gain +1 Victory Point.

    Devildrome Champions: (If PCs made a contact out of Rance Luca)
    The hellbinders of the Devildrome Colosseum are an eclectic bunch, but despite the concern their methods tend to evoke, should the PCs be on good terms with Rance Luca, they can spend 2 Fame Points to rally Rance and his Devilbinders to the cause of saving Westcrown. Between Rance's charisma and the summoner's might, the PCs gain +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point for doing so.

    Redeemed Nightmares: (If the PCs saved the transforming steeds from the ranch)
    The significant effort (and resources) paid to save the unfortunate steeds at the Nightmarish Stables pays off, as the redeemed nightmares will return, offering their assistance in the fight to save Westcrown. Not only do the PCs gain powerful flying mounts should they desire, but radiant symbols of heroism, granting them +1 Popularity Point. (I'd suggest redeemed nightmares use Dragon Horse statistics from Bestiary 2)

    Recovering the Lost: There have been a few instances in books 4 and 5 in particular where the choice application of raise dead or resurrection may yield a potent ally, who usually gave Fame for doing so, but they can come into play further here.

    NB: Resurrection is not as unavailable as it may seem - as written Westcrown has a base value of 16,000gp which corresponds to scrolls of resurrection (worth 12,275gp) being fairly available for purchase without extensive effort. The question is then whether the PCs are willing and able to expend that amount of wealth on NPCs, and the short answer is thus: There is an absurd amount of wealth up for grabs in this adventure path (enough to have PCs up to five times their expected wealth-by-level), so rewarding PCs who use some of their monty-hauls on the other people of Westcrown is, to my thinking, fair. It's not like they'll be suffering for gear either way, really.

    • Sivanshin's Consorts: Sivanshin 'collected' a vampiric harem from among the most notable and beautiful of women in Westcrown, from ambassador's daughters to stars of the stage and even a former Durotas, and resurrecting even one of these women is enough to grant +1 Popularity Point. If the PCs have resurrected more than one, increase the Popularity Points as follows (choose the highest bonus): 2 grant +2 Popularity Points; 4 grant +3 Popularity Points; 8 or more grant +4 Popularity Points.
    • House Grulios: In addition to (potentially) saving both Lord Asad Grulios and two of his children, Lucele and Kalder (I renamed the Nymmis guy), there is the option to raise his younger son Haran and resurrect his wife, Rhialana. Doing either earns the gratitude of the powerful House Grulios, granting the PCs +1 Popularity Point, but returning both and saving the family grants +1 Victory Point as the House is willing to throw it's full weight in with the PCs and aid the effort to save Westcrown
    • House Khollarix: In the Captive Nobles event (if you run it) a lot of House Khollarix die. In my version they have ties to the Council via the now-deceased patriarch Stengarin's brother-in-law, Sandano Vitaron (patriarch of the beholden House Vitaron). While Stengarin and many others are beyond saving, there are a half-dozen younger members of the house whom are at least capable of being resurrected, as enough of them remains. Returning some of them grants the PCs +1 Popularity, whereas returning all of them to life grants +2 Popularity.
    • There may well be others, depending on how your game goes , and they may well deserve a Popularity Point or two.

    Charity: There is a lot of wealth up for grabs in the Council of Thieves adventure path, and it's very possible the PCs have chosen to simply give large chunks of it away. As a general rule; For each book in which the PCs gave away (i.e. deliberately gifted away and received no benefit from - not just leaving it behind) a significant portion of the 'loot', grant them +1 Popularity Point. To my thinking, about 20-25% charity is "about right". Don't allow this as an option in Book 6, as there isn't really the time for it to take effect.


    5 people marked this as a favorite.

    5) CASTING BREATH OF LIFE ON WESTCROWN
    Westcrown is one of the largest cities of the Inner Sea region, but also one of the least detailed, making it something of a challenge to really bring it to life. In a city of 114,000 where a chunk of the city is abandoned we should expect (from Medieval Demographics Made Easy and 3.5 DMG2);

    • About 6 square miles (3,648 acres) of city
    • About 22,800 buildings (6/acre), with about 70% occupied (apply equally).
    • About 6,840 residences (low and middle class)
    • About 1,140 administrative buildings (town halls, militia barracks, city centres, military installations etc)
    • About 1,140 entertainment buildings (taverns, gambling houses, brothels, playhouses, theatres etc)
    • About 2,280 industrial buildings (shipwrights, carpenters, masons, slaughterhouses, lumberyards, fishmongers etc)
    • About 1,140 noble buildings (mansions/Vaneos, Villas/Viras, townhouses etc)
    • About 2,280 shops (smiths, bakers, jewellers, grocers, alchemists, curio shops, etc)
    • About 3,420 slums (flophouses, shanties, shacks etc)
    • About 1,140 public works (temples, parks, graveyards, schools, libraries, public forums etc)
    • About 1,140 nearby farms (mostly occupied)
    • About 760 to 1,300 law enforcement officers

    Now, we don't really have that in the published adventure, and creating even a fraction of that content is both time consuming and a tad exhausting (speaking from experience), so in the interest of making life easier for others... here's some suggestions from me (including a bit of revision to the districts for my own sanity) to hopefully make it easier.

    Nobility and Notable Personages:

    Despite most of the named NPCs in Westcrown being nobles or dottari commanders... almost none are actually used in the Adventure path, which poses a problem as it means what material is published for Westcrown doesn't actually get used for the campaign, by default.

    In the interests of being helpful, here are some suggestions on expanding the list of dramatic personae for Westcrown, and hooks to help you get them into your game.

    REVISED SUMMARY: Given that positions of great power, such as wardenship of a district of over 20,000 souls, were generally not handed out to commoners, I added a number of minor noble families to the list:

    • DROVENGE (Taldan):, Allied with Council; Beholden: Imvius, Lorialn, Xerysis
    • OBERIGO (Chelish): Allied with Council; Beholden: Aulamaxa, Ghival, Tuornos
    • SALISFER (Chelish): Allied with Council; Beholden: Chillarth, Rustachas
    • GRULIOS (Chelish); Vendajen University; Beholden: Mironeth, Ici
    • ARVANXI (Chelish): Lord Mayor; Beholden: Mhartis, Ciucci, Rasdovain, Drumanis
    • JULISTARC (Taldan): Allied with Council; Beholden: Seidraith, Cemaine, Strikis
    • DIOSO (Chelish): Allied with Council; Beholden: Jhaltero, Ucarlaar, Bolvona
    • TILERNOS (Taldan): Independent; Beholden: Starnon, Etrovain, Roccin
    • PHANDROS (Chelish): Independent; Beholden: Chard, Nolmon
    • KHOLLARIX (Chelish): Allied with Council; Beholden: Nymmis, Rufano
    • ROSALA (Taldan): Allied with Council; Beholden: Ulvauno, Atenaar
    • MEZINAS (Taldan): Allied with Council; Beholden: Vitaron, Missepe

    HOUSE GRULIOS: Fourth in standing of the Great Houses, Grulios owns vast estates in the heartland of Cheliax, however it is their ownership and operation of the Vendajen University that has secured their social standing and influence. In addition to the sprawling web of cousins, second cousins and other relatives scattered throughout southern Cheliax, of note within Westcrown are the heads of both the family and university:

    • Asad Grulios (41, CG male Chelish human aristocrat 5 / wizard 5): Loud, confident and with a penchant for disarming tense situations with well-timed wit, Asad is both abrasive and charming at the same time - a blend that some find insufferable. To his rivals, he is unpredictable and dangerous, to his friends, he is spontaneous, loyal and good humoured. He serves as both patriarch of the House and chancellor of the Vendajen University, handing the more mundane matters of finance, while his wife deals with the academia.
    • Rhialana Grulios (39, NG female Keleshite human wizard 10): Rhialana was charmed by the dashing Asad's antics on his visit to Sothis as the first foreigner who managed to be as interesting and lively as her own people, and after a brief but fiery courtship returned with him to Cheliax as his wife (much to his then-living parent's horror). Despite some early misgivings by the family, she proved to be a veritable boon for the university, attracting students and patrons equally for her exotic outlook on magic and her indisputable talent. In recent years she serves the university as dean, managing the curriculum, but still taking to the lecture hall when able.
    • Kalder Grulios (19, LN male human fighter 6): The oldest of Asad and Rhialana's children, Kalder is a loyal, dedicated and forthright young man, who is determined to fulfil his duty to the family. Unfortunately, the trend of academic skill seemed to simply miss Kalder - Asad blames his grandfather - and after a series of woefully insufficient aptitude tests in his early education, they found him a good swordmaster to train him. A calling he seems imminently suited to.
    • Lucele Grulios (17, NG female human wizard 2): Something of a prodigy within Vendajen University, Lucele turned heads when she starting grasping magical theorem at the age of 12, and has won over friends and critics alike in the years since. Despite her flair for the arcane, her father hasn't let her be completely enveloped in the academic life and has endeavoured to give his daughter a "rounded education"... though his wife thoroughly disagrees that horse-racing is a necessary part.
    • Haran Grulios (15, CG male human aristocrat 1): Haran is the youngest of their three, and somewhat overshadowed by his brother's martial skill and sister's academic renown, though for the most part he actually prefers not having the pressure of such expectations on him. Despite having a good heart, he tends to let others do the hard work for him - something which his mother criticizes him for on a regular basis.

    HOUSE KHOLLARIX: House Khollarix have extensive holdings in terms of land, but also significant investments within mercenary companies operating throughout southern Cheliax. They are also members in good standing within the Council of Thieves, having long used their association for their own gain. Some of the members of the House at the time of the Bastards of Erebus are:

    • Stengarin Khollarix (55, LE male human aristocrat 8): Patriarch of the House, he previously sat on the Council of Thieves, however he abdicated the position to his son and heir, Neradal, though he provides advice and mentoring.
    • Neradal Khollarix (31, NE male human aristocrat 5): Son and heir to Khollarix's estates and enterprises (legal or no), he has been groomed to be his "Father's son", though he lacks the old man's self discipline and appreciation for the needs of law and order. He is married, but lives with his wife and children in a wing of the family Vira.
    • Jurian Khollarix (19, CG male human fighter 3): The youngest of six children, Jurian is generally considered to be the "troublemaker" of the family, resisting arranged courtships, involvement in political machinations and extensive and unreasonable "outbursts" during lessons on financial and military strategy. Something of a rebel, he spends much of his time out of the Vira, and is secretly courting Euphemi Tilernos.
    • Shanwen Khollarix (20, LE male human cleric of Asmodeus 1): As Stengarin's nephew, Shanwen stood no chance of inheriting, so opted to serve his family and nation as best as he knew how - joining the priesthood of Asmodeus, and later the Order of the Rack as a signifier. His first mission as a new Signifier of the Order is to lead a training mission with some of the armigers in capturing some 'troublemakers'. But that may not be his last mission...
    • Sephanine Khollarix (18, N female human aristocrat 1): Shanwen's younger sister, she still lives at home in the Vira, though her parents are attempting to arrange an "appropriate" pairing for her currently.

    HOUSE NYMMIS: Rather than just the single member of the house (plus Kalder in Book 6), I threw together a few of Calseinica's relatives (with names of a similar style to Calseinica herself) and some potential plot hooks:

    • Alatrenion Nymmis (51, LN male aristocrat 5 / fighter 4): Patriarch of the Nymmis family and stoic worshipper of Abadar, Alatrenion believes in honest work for honest pay, and sees the role of the nobility as protecting the common folk, rather than exploiting them. He is getting on in years and doesn't have the vitality he did in his youth, but may yet lend his voice and blade to the cause of defending his city.
    • Melaphinia Nymmis (46, NG female aristocrat 5): The voice of compassion within a duty-bound household, she loves her husband despite some of his hardline opinions, but secretly supports Calseinica's desire to shape her own fate, rather than accept that handed to her by Alatrenion.
    • Threnalan Nymmis (24, LN female aristocrat 2 / fighter 4): Calseinica's older brother, and Alatrenion's heir, Threnalan was raised bearing the burden of his father's expectations, and gradually came to respect and appreciate his father's reasoning, despite the many arguments in the past. Strong, well trained and well educated, he is prepared to bear arms to defend his family and his city at a moments notice.
    • Phelanadia Nymmis (15, NG female human aristocrat 1): Calseinica's younger sister, who is still studying with her tutors and envious of her sister's freedom, though her parents have expressed in no uncertain terms their feelings should she even contemplate following in 'Senica's footsteps.
    • Falaceitta Nymmis (21, LN female human aristocrat 4): Calseinica's cousin, who is presently studying with and working for Stengarin Khollarix. She is not privy to any of the illicit dealings of her liege's house, but she has noticed discrepancies and is growing increasingly concerned that all may not be as it appears....

    Faiths & Religion:

    There are a number of temples and a number of common faiths within Westcrown, though in modern Thrune popularity does not equate directly to influence. Some of the common faiths represented are as follows:
    • ABADAR [Popularity: 2nd; Influence: 2nd]: Although not the most commonly worshiped of deities, the church of Abadar maintains its position within the heart of Wiscrani civilization, managing banking and economic services on behalf of the new rulers, much as it did the old. Their economic role, coupled with the "working relationship" with Thrune and the dominant church of Asmodeus has seen them rise in influence since Aroden's fall.
    • ASMODEUS [Popularity: 4th; Influence: 1st]: The church of Asmodeus enjoys power and influence disproportionate with its popularity due to the influence of House Thrune; among those aspiring for power or prestige, conversion to Asmodeus is looked upon favourably by Thrune, and thus is a means to get ahead.
    • ERASTIL [Popularity: 5th; Influence: 5th]: Although rarely worshipped within the great metropolis of Westcrown, many families pay homage to Old Deadeye either out of tradition, or due to working the fields beyond the city walls.
    • IOMEDAE [Popularity: 1st; Influence: 3rd]: The majority of Westcrown converted to the worship of Aroden's Inheritor when the god of humanity died, and so unsurprisingly her worship is the most common among Wiscrani citizens. Due to the influence of the church of Asmodeus, however, her church does not wield power in proportion with its popularity, as the majority of the city's leadership and elite pay at least lip service to Asmodeus.
    • SHELYN [Popularity: 3rd; Influence: 4th]: Westcrown was once a bastion of culture and art, and so it should come of little surprise that the third most commonly worshiped deity is Shelyn, goddess of love and beauty. That said, in influence her church is below that of Abadar, Asmodeus and Iomedae.

    Sarenrae and Zon-Kuthon are present in small numbers, but substantially less than those listed above..

    Weather and Climate:

    The southern coast of Cheliax is a line of rugged hills formed during the Starfall, and with it's latitude being decidedly subtropical and the prevailing winds coming from the south (or Thuvia and such wouldn't be deserts), the city of Westcrown should expect hot summers with frequent storms from the inner sea, cool (but not cold) winters and plentiful rainfall most of the year.

    Expressed in D&D terminology:

    • Summer is warm, with frequent storms.
    • Spring and Autumn are temperate, favouring rain and occasional storms.
    • Winter is temperate, but prone to sleet or hail during cold snaps, but never snow.

    Houses would be built primarily to stay cool, favouring high ceilings, with fireplaces being rare outside of the kitchen, as heating is only warranted on the coldest of winter nights. Urban design would focus on drainage for the heavy summer rains to prevent flooding, however as the height of the river is dominated by tides rather than rainfall, the city can build close to the high tide mark - typically determined by 'king' tides, when the solar and lunar tides coincide.

    FYI: Solar tides are a thing. On Earth the Lunar tides are 2.2 times that of the solar, by virtue of the fact that although the sun is really, really massive, tidal forces decrease by the cube of the distance between objects, whereas gravitational attraction decreases by the distance squared. By complete coincidence the sun's gravitational 'pull' on the moon is 2.2 times that of the Earth's pull on the moon. That's the daily dose of astrophysics trivia, anyway.

    The height of buildings is heavily determined by the foundations they're build upon - hard stone allows tall buildings at lower cost, while soft ground requires extensive and expensive foundations to be dug if the building is to be more than one or two floors.

    Rego Cader:

    Formerly Rego Plea, the home of the various dirty industries and slums that the nobility wished little to do with as well as some of the more prosperous regions near the Sunset Gate, this district grew in the shadow of the massive Oberigan Wall (30ft tall, rather than a mere 10ft) - the original northern wall of the city. Within this section of the city the turmoil and unrest following the fall of Aroden did not end with Thrune's ascendancy to the throne and the newly appointed "Mayor" of the city, Anvengen, adopted a simple if heavy handed approach to dealing with the troubled district - he ordered it sealed.

    The Sunset and Oberigan Gates were ordered shut, stairs and access to the walls from inside the district destroyed, and the dottari garrisoned nearby ordered to shoot any who attempted to escape the district. Famine, disease and anarchy brought a swift but brutal end to the last gasps of rebellion against Thrune's rule. Renamed Rego Cader, a scant fraction of it's original population still dwell within the ruined prison district, and seventy years of the practice of exiling criminals into the ruins has turned it into a dark and wretched hell for those trapped within.

    Despite the harshness of life within the prison district and apparent lack of order, there are several locations of note.

    THE DUSK MARKET: The rundottari practice of 'policing' Cader by longbow from the walls surrounding the district has minimized their casualties over the decades, however it has also turned Rego Cader into a place where one simply vanishes from the sight of the law - almost literally. A few choice bribes to allow travel in and out of the district for those with coin, and the Dusk Market bloomed within the desolation.

    The market itself moves from time to time - typically every few months, though at times it has lasted years in a single location before an enthusiastic duxotar's raids forced it to move - but it typically takes place in the ruins of once-opulent buildings chosen for decor and defensibility. Within the chosen venue, the dusk market typically opens its doors for the few hours before dusk - and those seeking any manner of black market goods, sin or vice who are able to pay for safe passage in and through Cader flock within. The dusk market is the heart of the narcotics and other contraband trade, and while the Council of Thieves controls much of it, it does so from the relative secrecy of proxies and puppet gangs.

    • Example - Red Sara's: Of the many 'delights' of the dusk market, few are as widely known as the brothel and drug den known as "Red Sara's", nor it's owner and namesake, Red Sara (NE female tiefling rogue 8). A tiefling woman whose succubus heritage is evident in both appearance and manner, she has been in the vice business for two decades and has come to maintain something of a monopoly on several forms of narcotic as well as prostitution within the market's walls.

    THE LAST STAND INN: Formerly a dottari garrison in the district, this massive fortified structure served as a lair for a dozen different Cader gangs before it was taken over by it's current owner, a tiefling going by the name of Vaxelle, some forty years ago. Born during the turmoil following Aroden's death, Vaxelle remembered district as Rego Plea, and after decades of hardship and misery, sought to turn the old garrison into a reminder of her previous life. Naming it "The Last Stand" she declared it an inn, where she and her personally-trained guards offer a safe and secure night's rest for a reasonable price - paid for in coin, barter or labour. The Last Stand has stood as a bastion of civilization within the harsh wasteland of Cader for decades, and an informal community has grown up around it, with former gardens turned into miniature farms, and simple barricades erected to ward off the less-desirable residents of the district.

    THE BLOOD PIT: Founded in competition to Rego Crua's Devildrome (I moved it), the Blood Pit offers similar entertainment, albeit in a far less legal form - slave and monster blood sport. Operated by an ex-slave turned crime lord, Corhan, and his "Honourable Gents", they are unknowing puppets of the Council of Thieves, to whom the numerous bribes are paid to ensure that boats are able to safely and discretely come and go from the Cader docks with both paying customers or new 'spectacles'.

    MORE IN CADER:

    • Ramble Gardens

    Rego Crua:

    Wedged between the grim heights of the Oberigan Wall and the canaroden to the south, Rego Crua (or, "The Blood District") is a partially abandoned slum, where the undesirable industries have taken root since the fall of Aroden. The West Gate was constructed near the border with Scripa after Cader was sealed, and the trade has brought some wealth to the south of Crua, however the further one travels north, the more ruined and abandoned the district becomes.

    BARADIN'S FORGEWORKS: Looming on the banks of the Dhaenflow, Baradin's Forgeworks is a massive complex combining the foundry with numerous smithing stations, producing everything from swords to crowbars. Shipments of ore and coal are unloaded at its dedicated docks, and the Forgeworks supplies iron to most of the other smithies in the city, while also produce large amounts of bulk goods. Technically, the forgeworks is owned by House Tilernos, it has been operated by the Baradin family for three generations, and bears their name as a result.

    DEVILDROME: An exception to the rule of Crua is the Devildrome, which sits at the northern edge of the city by the Dhaenflow as a massive colosseum that once held sporting events, but has since been transformed by Rance Luca into a new form of entertainment; Thaumaturgic Gladiators. Popular with the nobility and peasantry alike, he holds weekly bouts in a variety of levels, though it is his monthly Hellcaller Champions tournaments that really draw the crowds, with both the exaggerated stage personas and Rances' overdramatized commentary being well known (and loved) by many.

    • Mantrithor "Hellmaster" Thrax: (LE male human conjurer 9) Reigning champion, and the only one with the skill and daring to use planar binding to call a bearded devil for some of his matches, supplemented by fiendish beasts, he is widely regarded as the favourite for all tournaments.
    • Volcrani "Avalanche" Harstor: (NE male human cleric of Asmodeus 8) "The Avalanche" as a simple if effective technique - summoning as many lemures as he can to overwhelm his foe in an inexorable tide of hell. Unfortunately for the prideful priest, although he has some diehard fans, his tactics have never bested Thrax the "Hellmaster"
    • Lethilani "Hound Queen" Thalor: (CN female tiefling sorcerer 8) Lethilani draws mixed reactions from the crowds, as her varied and improvised tactics make her something of a wildcard and her overdramatized performances draw ire from some and adulation from others. She has a penchant for hellhounds and fiendish canines, but has been known to summon anything from elementals to giant wasps. To date, no one has seen her summon an actual devil.
    • Chalmire "Genius" Vostagant: (NE male human unchained summoner 7) Chalmire's tactics focus on summoning a single powerful being in order to combat his foes - a unique 'devil' whose abilities match no known fiend, and which seems uncannily skilled at combating the beasts of hell. Despite the incredible power of his 'devil', though, his limited ability to summon other creatures often sees his opponents superior numbers winning out.

    KEEP DOTTAR: Nestled against the Oberigan Wall, Keep Dottar serves as the primary garrison and headquarters for the rundottari and their Durotas, Arik Tuornos. Comprised of four linked buildings with an open central courtyard, Keep Dottar is capable of housing the full compliment of the rundottari in times of need. For reference, the rundottari are one of the smaller forces and consist of the following.

    • Durotas Arik Tuornos (N male human ranger 8)
    • 2 Majors
    • 8 Captains
    • 40 Lieutenants
    • 240 Dottari

    RUNAWAY FLAGON: A veritable dive that backs onto the Oberigan Wall, the "Runaway Flagon" boasts a large sign featuring an escaped slave making a dash for a flagon of ale, and given its proximity to the Pleatra there may well be some truth to the suggested history of the place. The ale is terrible, the state of repair deplorable, the food abysmal and the company worse... but it's cheap. Of note among the somewhat colourful crowds is a tramp who goes by the title of "Honest Ron", a street drunk with a penchant for eavesdropping, and a knack for finding buyers for such information, he serves as a source of information for the on goings within Rego Crua, and even Cader.

    MORE IN CRUA:

    • Devil's Arms (inn)
    • Scarlet Playhouse (theatre)
    • Crevali & Sons Manufactory (paper mill)
    • Pleatra (slave market)
    • Walcourt (ruined temple)

    Rego Scripa:

    BANK OF ABADAR: Headed by the Archbanker Prenan Rustachas (73 year old male human cleric of Abadar 17), the Bank of Abadar is at the heart of the city's economy, as it offers unsurpassed security of deposits and impartial financial advice. For the most part, the eleven Bankers (cleric of Abadar 9) run the day to day affairs of the bank along with an army of assistants, scribes and guards, leaving the aging and somewhat eccentric Archbanker to rest, contemplate on the will of Abadar and fondly tell anecdotes about "the old days" when Westcrown had a "real nightlife". Those unfortunate enough to be caught by the old priests stories of old tend to find any illusions about the man being 'saintly' shattered quite quickly.

    FORT SPERA: This massive complex on the western shores of Rego Scripa houses the dottari, whose mandate is to maintain law and order within Parego Spera, and represent the largest dottari force in Westcrown by a significant margin.

    • Durotas Saria Roccin (CG female human fighter 6)
    • 4 Majors
    • 12 Captains
    • 60 Lieutenants
    • 360 Dottari

    IMPERIAL PLAZA: At the massive three-way intersection of the major transport arteries is the Imperial Plaza, built centuries ago as a public space amid the bustle of the city, it is an iconic part of Rego Scripa. Perhaps even more iconic is how it is used by the public; every Sunday, from the morning through to the late afternoon, a massive public market takes place, with both professional and even one-time stalls selling everything from food, entertainment to second hand wares. Even those not intending to buy frequently visit the markets, if only to see what is on offer that week.

    MORE IN SCRIPA:

    • Wandering Reefclaw (Respectable tavern)
    • Riverboat Inn (Inn, relocates)
    • Westcrown Shipyards (shipwrights)
    • Glitter Palace (Jeweller, gem-dealer and magical trinkets).
    • Tanarik House (Hellknight chapterhouse)

    Rego Pena:

    NB: Rather than the somewhat vague description in the gazetteer, which appears to be little more than the region around Delvehaven, I changed Pena to be the various island-docks.

    With the majority of the shoes of the Dhaenflow and bay too shallow for deepwater vessels, the city of Westcrown turned several small islands into large artificial port-islands, with a forest of stone pylons supporting a maze of docks and a proliferation of warehouses and trading halls. It is on these islands that trading vessels from across the inner sea dock, and see their cargo unloaded and distributed through both Westcrown, and north by road to Egorian, and nowhere else in Westcrown do coin and goods change hands more swiftly nor in such quantity as they do in Rego Pena. While not a single consolidated area, Rego Pena is generally considered to consist of the three southern port-islands - the northern island was abandoned during the turmoil and eventually converted into an island casino and den of vice known as "Rapture", which officially remains part of Pena, though few acknowledge it.

    CONDOTTARI MARINA: The Condottari have garrisons on three of the islands, however their primary marina is on the southernmost, which also serves as the seat for Durotas Scasi Bolvona. With a total of eight sail barges (treat as keelboat from the Skull & Shackles Player Guide) and forty adels, the Condottari are the second largest of the dottari forces, and number as follows:

    • Durotas Scasi Bolvona (NE male human sorcerer 5)
    • 2 Majors
    • 8 Captains
    • 48 Lieutenants
    • 288 Condottari

    RAPTURE: The Rapture is in a curious legal state, having been previously abandoned and never formally reoccupied, it exists in a nebulous state with regards to the law, and given the popularity of the venue with the nobility and pressure from Regicona it has remained somewhat outside the law for decades. The warehouses and trading halls of the old port have been replaced with casinos, drug parlours, bordellos and even more 'exotic' (or depraved, to some sensibilities) forms of entertainment. To some, Rapture represents the ultimate expression of freedom, to others, it represents the depths of depravity to which mankind can fall.

    MORE IN PENA:

    • Weeping Fish (inn)
    • East Empire Shipping Company (Merchants)

    Rego Sacero:

    NB: Now includes Delvehaven

    QATADA NESSUDIDIA: (Refer Bastards of Erebus article for details on the building); The Qatada Nessudidia is the centre of the worship of Asmodeus in Westcrown, and home (or at least, workplace) to fourteen priests of note (having access to 4th or 5th level spells, including those below) as well as a small army of templar and acolytes.

    • Archpriest Despada (LE male human aristocrat 4 / cleric of Asmodeus 9), head of the Asmodean church in Westcrown.
    • Vuiper Ghival (LE male human rogue 5 / cleric 10), second in command to Despada
    • Vestus Savaska (LE male human cleric 9), third among the priesthood.

    TEMPLE OF IOMADAE: The faith of the Inheritor is strong in Westcrown, and it remains the most common faith, if not the most influential one due to the influence of Thrune. Unlike the church of Abadar, the church of Iomadae keeps a comparatively low profile within the city, focusing on upholding rights and preserving the heritage of the city - including the various shrines and monuments to Aroden and the founders - from being obliterated by the new Thrune regime.

    TEMPLE OF SARENRAE: It is telling, perhaps, that when the shadow curse came to Westcrown, it's darkness fell first on those who would otherwise be its most dedicated opponents - the faith of Sarenrae. Shortly after the first rumours of beasts stalking the night, a darkness came upon the temple shortly after dusk, and when the sun rose, it shone upon an empty edifice - blood soaked the stone tiles of the temple floor, but no bodies were ever found. The mayor of the time, Dargentu Vheed, declared the temple to be cursed, and for the "safety of the citizens of Westcrown" prohibited it's reopening. For over thirty years, it has stood empty, to some a memorial to those lost when the shadow curse fell, to others, a grim reminder that Westcrown has fallen to darkness.

    MORE IN SACERO:

    • Vaneo Ghival (noble mansion)
    • Vaneo Nymmis
    • Vaneo Ulvauno
    • Vira Khollarix
    • Vira Rosala
    • Phantasmagoria (former temple of Nethys, turned into entertainment venue whose claim to fame is entirely non-magical special effects)
    • Avernesian Archives (Bookbinders and sellers)
    • Delvehaven (Abandoned pathfinder lodge)
    • Sanqatada Cinqarda (Cathedral)
    • Aberian's Folly (Mayoral Estate)
    • Aroden's Rise; Uralt's Walk; Arodenama
    • Imperial Marina

    Parego Regicona:

    Note: Although it's not really spelled out very well, the north is "Rego Corna", the middle is "Rego Laina" and the south is "Rego Aerum"... but really, I can't be bothered splitting it given the boundaries aren't overly clear on the map.

    Additionally, I've added the least here for two reasons:

    • 1)Parego Regicona received the greatest amount of write-up and detail in the gazetteer in the back of Bastards of Erebus;
    • 2)Parego Regicona is the single least utilized location in the adventure path, making it less of a priority for me. If you have PCs of noble birth, you may want to flesh out the details of the feuding families - grudges, agendas, alliances and plot hooks.

    STAVIANCARA: Headquarters of the regidottari, it and the surrounding buildings form the garrison of the regidottari forces, prison and home for the Durotas Lhiana Strikis. In times of need, the entire regidottari forces can be mustered here.

    • Durotas Lhiana Strikis (CE female human magus 5)
    • 2 Majors: Komana Lorialn (NG female Taldan human inquisitor 6); Solentus Chillarth (NE male Chelish human cleric of Asmodeus 5)
    • 6 Captains
    • 30 Lieutenants
    • 180 Regidottari

    VENDAJEN UNIVERSITY: The great centre of scholarly and magical pursuits of the Chelaxian empire, the Vendajen University has been owned and operated by the Grulios family for over a dozen generations, and the establishment still bears the name of its founder, Vendajen Grulios. Known for its broad (it boasts "complete") array of topics and philanthropic scholarships for gifted individuals of limited means, it remains a source of pride within Cheliax, despite Westcrown's steady decline.

    MORE IN REGICONA:

    • The Korradath
    • Vaneo Drovenge
    • Vira Oberigo
    • The Dorjanala
    • Vira Julistarc
    • Vira Grulios
    • Vira Salisfer
    • Trivardum
    • Vira Dioso
    • Vira Tilernos
    • Miratanza
    • Nightshade Theatre


    7 people marked this as a favorite.

    6) CHILDREN OF WESTCROWN - MORE THAN ADVENTURERS
    And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin' in, singing a bar of "Janiven's Restaurant" and walkin' out? They may think it's an organization... And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day, walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Janiven's Restaurant" and walkin' out? Friends, they may think it's a MOVEMENT, and that's what it is, The Janiven's Restaurant Anti-Eccardian Movement!

    More seriously, one of the greatest aspects of the Council of Thieves adventure path is the chance for the PCs to be more than simple adventurers, but at the heart of a movement to push back the terrors of the night and reclaim some of Westcrown's faded glory.

    Sadly, this kind of thing tends to be very heavy on the page count so the published adventure path really doesn't cover it too much. Early on, the PCs get to meet the other recruits - Amaya, Ermolos, Fiosa and the like - which is an excellent start, but the subsequent books really don't build on this, so even though the PCs gather obscene amounts of wealth and become some of the most powerful characters in Westcrown (most named characters are under well 10th level), there is no inherent suggestion within the books that the Children of Westcrown has actually grown as an organization.

    It is very possible it hasn't because the PCs are simply not interested in investing time, effort or money into it and would rather leave the "NPCs to do their thing"... which is a valid choice up to a point... but to me a lack of interest in the Children of Westcrown is a symptom of a lack of interest in Westcrown as a whole, and I would be reluctant to permit the highest Popularity rewards at the end of the adventure even if the PCs somehow achieve the requisite score.

    But if the PCs are interesting in growing the organization, I have a few suggestions to follow on the subject, which hopefully may be of use.

    Recruits:

    Recruits are people who can be convinced to join the Children of Westcrown, in much the same manner as Amaya, Ermolos etc. Generally speaking I'd suggest such NPCs are working on less dangerous tasks than the PCs in the background (or even helping out the PCs from time to time) and as such have levels in PC classes (or +1 level if built with NPC classes) equal to half the PC's level (rounding down) or the PC level -5, whichever is higher. I've included a few of the stock recruits with suggestions for what can be done with them, mostly as examples.

    Optional Rule: If you have a small number of PCs, you can instead treat the other members of the Children of Westcrown as cohorts and keep them around PC level -2, though you'd want to restrict the number that can accompany the part at any time.

    AMAYA KAIJITSU (CG female Tian human bard)
    Available: Already recruited into the Children of Westcrown
    Associated Locations: Southern Dragon Glassworks (family business); Limehouse Theatre
    Description: Somewhat self-conscious, but incredibly beautiful young woman, she was taught glass-blowing by her parents, according to tradition, but yearns for the glamour and drama of the stage - be it as an actor in the theatre or as a masked hero on the streets of Westcrown.
    Developments: Potential extra or co-star for the Six Trials of Larazod, which may give rise to a career of acting and playwriting on the side. In time the Limehouse Theatre could become the venue for a lunch-time series of short plays, where she dramatically re-enacts and tells of the recent exploits of the Children of Westcrown (names changed to protect identities).
    Special: If Amaya is encouraged to pursue her acting career, her plays will publicize the heroism of the Children of Westcrown, granting a bonus +1 Popularity Point in Book 6.

    ERMOLOS JUNIOR (NG male Chelish human fighter)
    Available: Already recruited into the Children of Westcrown
    Associated Locations: Baradin Forgeworks
    Description: Ermolos is a tall and exceptionally muscular young man - a result of years at the forge - and was raised on his father's (at times exaggerated) tales of heroic adventure in the southern lands. After his father went missing several years ago, he has longed to go in search of him, but right now his home and family need him more. Despite his hulking exterior, Ermolos is patient and generally thinks before he speaks, giving him an air of quiet intelligence to those who know him.
    Developments: Working at Baradin's Forgeworks, he finds his role within the smithy increasing over the course of the adventure path, which eventually gives rise to the 'quest' Strongarm Labour in Book 4. If Strongarm Labour is not undertaken and no PC has developed a strong rapport with the character, he will likely leave Westcrown with his family at the end of the Mother of Flies.

    CALSEINICA NYMMIS (NG female Chelish human rogue)
    NB: She's published as an aristocrat, however if recruited can be retrained into PC classes, and given the persona presented I went with Rogue as being the most likely - plus it gives an alternative to Yakapulio, whom I (and I suspect others) don't use.
    Available: Either after the play, or during the Cornucopia.
    Associated Locations: Vaneo Nymmis; Limehouse Theatre
    Description: An aspiring if somewhat naive starlet, Calseinica is vivacious, good natured and possessing a (tragically rare) genuine compassion towards others. These are countered with a playful streak a mile wide and propensity to enjoy 'getting into mischief', to the point where she will not only try to enact some of the scandalous suggestions of her character, Ilsandra, but will be difficult to dissuade from joining in the exploration of Aberian's Folly. If recruited, she becomes a daring, if slightly reckless member of the Children of Westcrown, volunteering for many a dangerous mission... except those that deal with the sewers.
    Developments: Calseinica may not be on the best terms with her parents early on, but she is nobility and possessed with a position of privilege within Westcrown. More-over, if she is supported and encouraged through friendship with one or more PCs (and survives) she will eventually confess her role in the Children of Westcrown to her father in Book 6; shocking, astounding and humbling the man, who will in turn lend his voice and support to the Noble Rally event (see the event description for more details).

    ZEVIAN & MEPHINA (N male tiefling rogue and CN female tiefling rogue)
    Available: Liberated from an illegal slaving operation in optional mission Slavers of Westcrown during What Lies in Dust.
    Associated Locations: Rego Cader
    Description: Zevian & Mephina are twins who were born and grew up within the anarchic ruins of Rego Cader. Although they heard of Palaveen's rallying call to all those of infernal blood, they also heard rumour of his rather bloodthirsty methods - though both lifelong thieves with more than a few deaths to their names, they were not murderers and only kill if forced. When rescued by the Children of Westcrown, the pair found themselves with no home to return to and most of their old associates dead or captive with them. Lacking any other options, they'll enquire whether the Children "need any work done". Despite a very casual disregard for concepts of property and ownership and a rather droll sense of humour that sometimes borders on sacrilegious, the pair are talented and, if the association proves in their best interests, eager to put their skills to use.
    Developments: Zevian and Mephina are by no means 'ideal' candidates for the Children of Westcrown, but they're skilled individuals capable of being eyes and ears within the ruins of Rego Cader. If one or more PCs works with them (including paying appropriate rewards) and develops a bit of a rapport, they'll find the pair surprisingly loyal, and may open the grounds for an eventual transition up to a Good alignments, leading to advance warning of events in Rego Cader in Book 6. Additionally, if the twins accompany the PCs in Rego Cader, they ignore the movement penalties of the district and do not need to roll to navigate the warrens. If ignored or left unrewarded for tasks undertaken, the pair will soon vanish into the ruins of Cader, though they may make a return in Book 6.

    ADULA STARNON (NG female Taldan human ranger)
    Available: Vampiric member of Sivanshin's harem. Requires resurrection after defeating him in Mother of Flies.
    Associated Locations: Fort Spera (dottari headquarters)
    Description: Possessed of deep bronze skin and luscious auburn locks, this immaculately dressed woman could easily be mistaken for one of the many manicured noble ladies groomed for political marriages. Adula is not such a woman - the former Durotas is Saria Roccin's immediate predecessor whose taste for glamoured armour drew the attention of Sivanshin, who found himself intrigued by her taste, daring and skill. Having spent the last seven years as a vampire, she has no intention of disrupting the already shaken dottari by trying to reclaim her post - and has a measure of pride for her protégé having risen to the challenge - but neither is she willing to sit back and let "her city" go to hell. Seeing the Children of Westcrown as the most appropriate means of achieving her goals - returning peace to the city - she will confidently declare herself a member and act accordingly, and the PCs will be hard pressed to dissuade her (should they so desire).
    Developments: As a member of the nobility, Adula should carry a position of privilege, however the fact that she's been "dead" for the last 7 years has complicated the matter significantly, and she has no desire to open that can of worms until the city is in a "proper state". She is a confident and socially adept woman who possesses no small modicum of skill with her blades, though she can and will infuriate some of the longer-term members on occasion. Any encounter with dottari forces where Adula is accompanying the PCs, she will grant them a +4 circumstance bonus on all Diplomacy, Intimidate and Sense Motive checks, and once per day will allow a PC to re-roll such a check, taking the higher result.

    KORVA MIRONETH (LG female Chelish human paladin of Iomadae)
    Available: Vampiric member of Sivanshin's harem. Requires resurrection after defeating him in Mother of Flies.
    Associated Locations: Vaneo Mironeth; Temple of Iomadae
    Description: Twenty-one years ago Korva Mironeth was notable daughter of House Mironeth, paladin of Iomadae and popular champion of reform, leading a movement among the nobility and leisured middle class to form a special military division with the mandate to hunt down the shadow beasts and their source, and end the Shadow curse. Her campaign ended with the bloody slaughter of her closest supporters in their homes, and he paladin herself going missing - in truth, captured by Sivanshin and turned into the third member of his harem. She is tall, strong, charismatic and surprisingly clumsy, with those who get to know her having to adjust to accommodate her knack for bumping into things, treading on toes, knocking over glasses and a variety of other minor accidents. Her return to the world of the living also reinvigorated her desire for change - that the shadow curse has ended is a tribute to the PCs heroism, but another threat looms in the city, and she feels it a sacred duty to stand by the PCs and fight against it.
    Developments: Korva is a powerful ally, albeit an accident prone one, and unshakable in her desire to bring justice to those who would wrong the people of Westcrown. Her long absence from the world of the living has seen even her younger siblings bear grey hairs and children who appear as old as she, which makes her eventual return to her family... awkward, but no less important to her. While she may not muster the support of the Mironeth family easily, she will muster the support of the Temple of Iomadae, who have long missed their most outspoken daughter. If one or more of the PCs maintain a friendship (or at least good rapport) with Korva, she will arrange for an alliance with the Temple of Iomadae proper, giving a 25% discount on all spellcasting services from the temple, as well as a willingness to shelter members of the Children of Westcrown if need be.

    MORE RECRUITS: Some additional suggestions (in addition to the standard set in Bastards of Erebus), noting that I'm giving their background role as a suggestion towards a class - e.g. Tomino as a lay-priest could suit cleric or warpriest, but could just as easily become a devout cavalier or fighter (depending on what you feel is more appropriate or more useful).

    • Tomino (NG male Taldan human lay priest of Shelyn): Book 3 - Slavers of Westcrown
    • Milano (N male halfling page [potential ): Book 3 - Slavers of Westcrown
    • Renira (CN female Chelish human musician): Book 3 - Slavers of Westcrown
    • Dalifin (CG male half-elf actor): Book 3 - Missing Actor
    • Rhathomir (NG male elf ranger): Book 4 - War for the Hagwood
    • Oldran the Quartermaster (N male Chelish human wizard): Book 4 - Hidden Ways of Walcourt
    • Meriyana (N female Tian human rogue): Book 4 - Hidden Ways of Walcourt
    • Jayazi (LG female Vudrani human monk): Book 4 - Hidden Ways of Walcourt
    • Thelona (NG female Keleshite human cleric): Book 4 - Hidden Ways of Walcourt
    • Jurian Khollarix (CG male Chelish human fighter): Book 5 - Captive Nobles
    • Jezeltrix (restored NG vulpinal agathion): Book 5 - Into the Spiral

    Alliances:

    Alliances are opportunities for the PCs to forge beneficial relationships with other factions and powers, who won't "join" the Children of Westcrown like the recruits will, but will certainly offer benefits to them. If so desired, Ultimate Campaign and the third party Ultimate Charisma could well be put to use helping shape the mechanics of such (personally I tend to wing it based on roleplay, but that's just my preference).

    ASAD GRULIOS (CG male human aristocrat 5 / wizard 5)
    Available: After liberating his family from Walcourt
    Associated Locations: Vendajen University; Vira Grulios
    Description: (refer "Casting Breath of Life on Westcrown")
    Developments: Liberating Asad and his family from Sivanshin's clutches will see the noble feel indebted to the PCs and Children of Westcrown, and he will endeavour to use his influence to assist them, and grant access to the Vendajen University as an allied asset.
    Boons: Vendajen University as an allied Asset (see Assets); Will grant PCs a +4 circumstance bonus to all Diplomacy and Intimidate checks with nobility not allied with the Council of Thieves.
    Final Battle: Will muster the full might of House Grulios and various mages of the university to the PCs call, granting +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point.

    DUROTAS SARIA "ROSE" ROCCIN (CG female Taldan human fighter 6)
    Available: Any time, but especially after Book 3: Slavers of Westcrown
    Associated Locations: Fort Spera
    Description: Durotas Saria Roccin heads the forces of the law in Parego Spera, but is not the biggest stickler for the law itself - believing that doing the "right" thing is more important than "following protocol". She has in a number of cases anonymously hired third parties to investigate or stymie criminals that were 'out of her reach' for one reason or another, using her alternate persona of "Rose" - so named due to her tendency to use roses (from her family's greenhouse) as a calling card for her contacts. NB: If approached with some degree of care and subtlety, she will make a great Commissioner Gordon character.
    Developments: Even if the PCs do not actively seek her out beforehand, she will (as Rose) seek to contact them in Book 3's Slavers of Westcrown event. As long as they complete that mission (and any others you wish her to pitch at them), she will remain a valuable ally and lend them any support she can.
    Boons: She ensures that the Children of Westcrown are looked upon favourably by the dottari of Parego Spera, and is willing to adjust patrols and assignments if the PCs request to assist in their efforts. She will also arrange for 'drop off points' for criminals the PCs capture, where they will be collected by dottari forces, and will pay bounties if applicable. NB: This is GM fiat, but I would recommend that PCs who are either charitable or investing heavily in the city or Children of Westcrown be rewarded bounties equal to 5% of the XP value of their captives. If the PCs are basically looting everything and turning it all into magical equipment, I'd suggest not adding bounties.
    Final Battle: The dottari forces will consider the PCs and Children of Westcrown allies and cooperate in getting the city back under control, granting +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point.

    MORE POTENTIAL ALLIES: Though some are a tad unlikely or simply harder to win over.

    • Robahl Nolmon (CN male Chelish human expert 5): Book 2 - The Cornucopia
    • Crosael Rasdovain (LE female tiefling bard 10): Anywhere from Book 2 to 4.
    • Rance Luca (CN male Taldan human aristocrat 3 / rogue 4): Book 3 - The Devildrome
    • Ailyn Ghontasavos (NG female Taldan human bard 6): Book 3 - Delvehaven
    • Khazrae (crazed LE undead erinyes head): Book 3 - Delvehaven (unlikely)
    • Goren Xerysis (LE male Taldan human ranger 5): Book 4 - A New Contact
    • Red Sara (NE female tiefling rogue 8): Book 4 - A New Contact
    • Shanwen Khollarix (LE male Chelish human cleric of Asmodeus): Book 5 - Siege of Aberian's Folly (it's possible. I won't say it's likely, but it's possible. And hilarious).

    Assets:

    Assets are fairly varied, but are basically things that aren't the above. Probably easier to show rather than tell here, so here are some examples:

    BARADIN'S FORGEWORKS
    Location: Rego Crua
    Associated Characters: Gellius Baradin; Ermolos
    Description: The Forgeworks is a massive foundry and smithing facility, and capable of producing a vast array of metal goods. If the facility and its staff are not already considered allies, completing the event Strongarm Labour will do so.
    Boons: Subject to GM fiat. You can tone this back if you want.

    • If allied, the Forgeworks will purchase mundane and magical arms and armour at 75% of market value, to a limit of 50,000gp for a single item. They will also sell non-magical arms and armour at 75% of market price.
    • If owned (requires negotiating the sale with House Tilernos and 200,000gp), they will exchange (i.e. trade item-for-item) magical and mundane arms and armour at market value, but cannot provide any item of value above 50,000gp.

    GLITTER PALACE
    Location: Rego Scripa
    Associated Characters: Tarvi
    Description: The Glitter Palace is a gem-dealer, jeweller and purveyor of magical trinkets owned and operated by Tarvi's parents.
    Boons: Subject to GM fiat. You can tone this back if you want.

    • If allied, the Glitter Palace will purchase magical jewellery (rings, necklaces, bracelets etc) at 75% of market value, and are willing to "barter" magical jewellery once per week - exchanging up to 50,000gp (market value) of magical jewellery for an equal value.

    VENDAJEN UNIVERSITY
    Location: Rego Aerum
    Associated Characters: Asad Grulios; Rhialana Grulios
    Description: A vast establishment of arcane and scholarly study, it also serves as one of the primary sources of magical creations within the city.
    Boons: Subject to GM fiat. You can tone this back if you want.

    • If allied, the Vendajen University will sell scrolls, wands, staffs and potions at 75% of market value, and permit the use of its facilities for research purposes, granting a +4 Circumstance bonus to any of the following when made at the University: Knowledge checks; Spellcraft checks to identify magic items or learn spells; Any checks associated with crafting magic items.

    MORE ASSETS:

    • Bank of Abadar (Scripa)
    • Jacovo's Stables (Crua)
    • Last Stand Inn (Cader)
    • Limehouse Theatre (Scripa)
    • Temple of Asmodeus (Sacero)
    • Temple of Iomedae (Sacero)
    • Visio's Tavern (Scripa)
    • Westcrown Shipyards (Scripa)

    Gear:

    Merciful. Weapons.

    There's a lot of bonus fame and reputation up for grabs if the Children of Westcrown don't go around killing people. Merciful Weapons are an excellent investment for this campaign - the bonus damage means you can take people down quickly, and the 100% nonlethal means you can take them alive without eating -4 penalties to attack, and lastly, if you really want something dead you can just turn the property off.

    Yes. It means prisoners. Yes, some players will "not want the hassle", and that's their choice - but I'd strongly suggest informing them that this is a campaign about being masked heroes and bringing in people alive will be better for the PCs reputation in the long term, and lead to better results overall. If they still want to go around employing lethal force because it's more convenient, feel free to let NPCs bleed out and deny them bonus fame or apply Fame penalties as appropriate throughout the adventure - you did warn them that their actions have consequences, after all.

    If they do go this route - be nice. Give them a Commissioner Gordon and designated 'drop off' points for captured crooks.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    BOOK 1 - BASTARDS OF EREBUS
    Review

    Crunch:

    Levels: 1-3
    Target: 20,000xp; 11,200gp wealth
    Actual: 23,250xp (varies, 116% of target); 15,277gp (total) / 8,925gp (sale, 80% target)

    Comments: Pretty much on target with XP and wealth gain, depending on what the GM does with the Extra Heroics in particular.

    Compliments:

    This book sets the benchmark for the Adventure Path as a whole, and is a brilliant piece of work: It introduces the concept of masked crusaders, it brings in a varied cast of NPCs to work with as well as foreshadowing the Council's existence. It also introduces a potential recurring antagonist in the form of Signifier Shanwen (printed as "Shanwen Shanwen", which is a hilarious typo, but not a useful one. I made him a Khollarix).

    The action is varied, the Bastards of Erebus themselves thought through and a lot of fun to play, with some tricks and misdirection along the way to spice things up.

    Huge kudos to Sean.

    Criticisms:

    As many have noticed, Janiven's speech at the start of the module is very misleading: The Children of Westcrown are not rebels, but more of a citizens watch trying to keep the streets and citizens safe, and as a whole the adventure path has nothing to do with rebelling against Thrune. The "Continuing the Campaign" notes at the end of Book 6 give such a rebellion as an option... but on the whole this is not part of the story.

    Furthermore, the casting of the Hellknights in this book paints them in a very, very unsympathetic light, and given their absence from books 2-5, having them return as a potential ally in Book 6 was... odd.

    Other than that (and arguably being a bit light on loot, but that's a product of use-it-vs-sell-it mechanics), I don't really have many criticisms about Bastards of Erebus. Again, kudos to Sean for an excellent job.

    Recommendations

    Part 1 - Westcrown Rebels:

    If you change only one thing in this entire book, it should be Janiven's speech to the PCs in this opening chapter.

    Her speech is a firebrand proclamation of opposition to House Thrune... except the adventure path has nothing to do with opposing House Thrune. At all. Indeed, the actual starting premise of the adventure path is becoming a citizen's watch / masked vigilantes / The Avengers in order to fight crime and combat the Shadow curse that grips the night. Thrune doesn't factor into it.

    Revise her speech. Have her stress the rising crime, urban and cultural decay, erosion of morality and most of all, the death that comes at night to those on the streets after dusk. Make it a call to heroism, but remove the references to Thrune.

    Part 2 - Into the Sewers:

    The concept of randomized sewers to avoid PCs from being able to comfortably navigate a maze-map with their third-person perspective is actually fairly solid, however it requires either some serious preparation to pull off, or the players to buy into a free-form random-roll scenario. I'd suggest the former.

    Maze Squares: Don't worry about drawing the sewers on a combat map - either make combat narrative (i.e. no minis) or draw encounters on a separate map. Instead, a fun way to handle the maze is to have small squares with a chunk of sewer sketched on - a bit of straight, an intersection, some twists and turns etc. As the PCs travel, put down and remove these squares so that they can see the square they're on and within 1 square of that. As the GM you'll need to keep track of where they are on a sticks-and-box schematic, but it's a way to force the players to rely on memory or scribbling a map of their own to remember where they've been (and it's okay if they get their map wrong).

    Scenarios: Run as many as the PCs can handle, and please, please throw in at least one cache. Loot is a bit scarce in this module without it, so having them run into it after 1-2 encounters is a nice boost to their wealth. If the PCs aren't looting the hellknight armigers for everything they're worth, feel free to throw in more than one cache.

    Special Encounters: There are things in the sewers the PCs can't (or shouldn't) beat in a fight, but that doesn't mean a TPK (unless your players, really, really, really insist on getting themselves killed). Here are some examples of things to throw in (foreshadowing! Yay!):

    • Whitechin the Goblin King: A premature run in with Whitechin, or at least his minions could well see the PCs chased off or turned away at an armed barricade, but then gives a good lead in to the More Heroics in Part 5 of this book.
    • Varpnall the Plaguebringer: Varpnall's from Book 6 and could well be wandering the sewers a little bit in search of food. If he's eaten well recently, he might not attack the PCs so much as berate them a little and demand tribute - or for them to come back later when he's less full.
    • Jinkoo the Armiger: Jinkoo the goblin Armiger is the sewer guard for Tanarik House (which the PCs will pass near on their travels through the sewers), and makes a good encounter, as he demands they "Return whence you came! Passage Denied! Sewers is Hellknight sewers! Leave or I blow horn and you all die!" or some such. Again. Foreshadowing.

    Part 3 - The Rebel Hideout:

    This section is pretty damn solid, but I'd make four suggestions:

    Go For Broke: Seriously, the PCs ultimately get to name the group and decent on the 'uniform', as they are trying to keep their 'real' identities separate to the Children of Westcrown... but there's no reason to stop there. If you and your players want, you can easily go a step further: Be the Avengers. Create a custom persona and 'masked superhero' identity for each PC, but continue referring to the group as a whole as "The Avengers" or whatever the PCs call them. The more the players buy into the theme, the better things go, as a whole. Call-signs or other pseudonyms are also good - if Bob the Paladin is constantly called "Bob" when out fighting crime, it's not exactly subtle.

    Draw the Hideout: This safehouse is the heart of the Children of Westcrown (including PCs) activities throughout the adventure path, and frankly it deserves some love and attention as it is both a setting for roleplay, a home, a workshop and a training ground. Giving the players a layout and detail lets them make adjustments as time goes on - remember that as the AP progresses the PCs will gain access to fabricate, stone shape, wall of stone and similar magics which can dramatically change the safehouse. Give them the plans, and let them make their bat-cave. I don't recommend the map from Book 6, as it really doesn't give much to work with.

    Ignore the class requirements: PCs will gravitate towards NPC members of the Children of Westcrown due to race, gender and personality - 'potential class' is actually one of the least likely reasons in my experience, and the least useful. If a party is mostly martial classes and a single cleric, adding more martial or cleric allies isn't as useful as fostering Tarvi or Gorvio's arcane talents. If they build friendships or relationships, let those NPCs develop to complement your PCs, rather than clone them.

    Benchwarmers: There's a lot of NPCs and some will likely not be hits with the players, or possibly with you as the GM (I didn't want to roleplay Yakapulio, for example). That's okay. If one of the NPCs isn't "working", just put them on the bench and focus on those who do. Personally I found the cast of 11 to be a bit excessive and trimmed it down to 7 to start with (Amaya/Mathalen hybrid, Ermolos/Larko hybrid, Fiosa, Gorvio, Rizzardo-the-awesome, Sclarvo and Tarvi), and then once those characters were established, added a further 2 over the course of the next few books (Calseinica, Rhathomir).

    Part 4 - A Dramatic Rescue:

    Shanwen Shanwen: Best typo ever. More seriously, I made this guy Shanwen Khollarix, a nephew to the current patriarch of House Khollarix and as such capable of being a sponsor for the young armigers, as well as a person of import. If possible, he makes for a great recurring antagonist, without actually being a villain.

    Given that Shanwen's stat block has a few errors (a Large sized heavy crossbow should deal 2d8, not 2d6) and is designed to be largely ineffectual when combined with his tactics, I wound up redesigning him a bit. His alternate stat block (and progression) I've included in the Addendum.... noting I also juggled his stats around to make him more charismatic, but much less intelligent.

    Part 5 - Lying Low:

    As written, this is pretty solid, and I have two pieces of advice: Try to discourage the PCs from murdering Thesing; If the PCs are willing, try to run all the "More Heroics" options.

    No, really, optional content and extra Fame Points are really, really crucial if the PCs want to get the best outcome at the end of the campaign. By this point, the PCs should still be 1st level (unless they did a LOT in the sewers), and these extra missions help get them to 2nd. In order to help, here's some suggestions:

    CAPTURE BANDITS: The "Leopard Pack" is a small band of thugs and highwaymen operating on the road to Westpool not far from Westcrown and targeting small caravans and groups of travellers. As they've yet to offend anyone of political influence within the city they have yet to see reprisal from the authorities. Lead by Rakano "The Leopard" - a ruffian known for his circular scars from a childhood encounter with a giant squid - the "pack" is hardly organized or especially dangerous, but they are a menace. This presents the perfect opportunity for the PCs to help clean up Westcrown and the surrounding region and earn a bit of fame and influence for the Children of Westcrown.

    Location: Marshlands 20 miles north-west of Westcrown.
    Hooks: There are a few ways to introduce this to the PCs; Rumours on the streets or in taverns; Contacts of Arael or Janiven; Public warning regarding travelling north to Westpool, and so on.
    Setup: Similar to for the Daring Rescue, Gorvio can arrange mounts or even a wagon for the PCs to borrow. Additionally, while simply killing the bandits is an option, doing so will not earn the PCs the point of fame - to earn the Fame they need to bring back at least some of the bandit gang and turn them over to the dottari at the gates - bound and with a letter of introduction from the Children of Westcrown. Options for finding them including shadowing another traveller, scouting the roadsides or even posing as lone traveller with a cart, and surprising them with a well armed and ready team when they attack.
    ENCOUNTER (CR3):

    • (CR 1/2) Rakano "The Leopard": CE male human warrior 2;
    • (CR 1/3) "Leopard Boys": NE male human warrior 1 (5)
    • Loot: NPC gear (chain shirt, studded leather (5), shortsword (12), shortbow (6)), plus 120gp in varied coins and small gems.

    WHITECHIN THE GOBLIN KING: While rumours abound about the legendary goblin "Whitechin", ranging from being undead to a wererat, these are little more than rumours (in my version), in truth he is a rarer breed of creature: A venerable sewer goblin. Ruling over his small tribe of sewer goblins with the power of the "Kingstick" (a wand of magic missiles with 22 charges remaining), his subjects serve him out of fear and awe at the power he commands.

    Location: Westcrown sewers under Rego Crua
    Hooks: There are several ways to lead the PCs to Whitechin; One is an early run into his guarded lair during Into the Sewers; another is to have reports or rumours of goblins raiding into Crua from the sewers, with his lair being the epicentre of the raids; yet another is to have Sclarvo approach the PCs with yet-another ignored petition from the residents of Crua to deal with the goblin infestation by the old cistern.
    Setup: While there is no need (or desire, really) to bring any of the goblins alive, a well-placed calling-card of the Children of Westcrown will be enough for some of the sewer workers to spread rumour of who slew the infamous Whitechin. The goblin king himself lairs within an old cistern - blocked off from the sewage flow by barricades his minions erected, most of their dens would be flooded if the barricades would be destroyed, but the king himself lives within a "nest" of debris and scrap that hangs from the roof of the cistern by chains and ropes.
    ENCOUNTER (CR4): While Whitechin commands many goblins, only a handful remain in his lair at any time.

    • (CR1) Whitechin the Goblin King: NE venerable* goblin rogue 3 (with Cha 12 and skill focus in UMD for a total of +10, with a DC20 to activate the wand)
    • b](CR1/2)[/b] Sewer Goblin (4)
    • Loot: 80gp of assorted gems, trinkets, tarnished silverware and such, plus the "Kingstick" - a wand of magic missiles (22 charges, less any used by Whitechin).
    • *Whitechin's CR is reduced by 1 for being venerable (-6 Str, Dex & Con, +3 Int, Wis, Cha)

    SLAY A SHADOW BEAST: A "masked woman called 'Bluehood'", huh? While it's possible to leave this as just a one-shot bit of Fame for killing a shadow beast (noting that she'll pay for multiple dead ones), I'd suggest that Bluehood have a greater role in the coming adventures. My recommendation? She's Ailyn Ghontasavos in disguise, who is fundamentally a researcher and historian, not a roving one-man-army and so puts up a bounty for slain shadowbeasts so she can study them - which then ties into Books 2 and 3.

    Location: Anywhere in Westcrown. The "Tavern behind the old Leroung estate" is probably referring to Laroung (a noble family that crops up elsewhere in Cheliax), and should be in Crua or Scripa - the idea being the estate was abandoned when the family left Westcrown (or the branch was killed off), and... well... masked people don't put up shady bounties in the nice bits of town. I made it the Wandering Reefclaw tavern in my game.
    Hooks: There's a few ways to get the news to the PCs ears; Janiven works as a mercenary and guide when not moonlighting as Black Widow and will likely have heard of any such bounty; The PCs could well overhear it themselves (odds are most consider it to be "crazy" and "never gonna happen") as people talk about it in taverns; or perhaps the PCs meet Bluehood herself.
    Setup: Night fight where the PCs go out to find a shadow beast and try not to die.
    ENCOUNTER (CR Varies): Pick one, and try not to reuse them (variety is the spice of death).

    • Shadowgarm (CR2): See Bastards of Erebus
    • Shadow OR Nightmare Krenshar (CR2): See Bestiary 4 for templates, and Bestiary 2
    • Shadow OR Nightmare Wolf (CR2): See Bestiary 4 for templates, and Bestiary 1
    • Shadow OR Nightmare Worg (CR3): See Bestiary 4 for templates, and Bestiary 1
    • Shadow Stirge (CR1): See Bestiary 4 for templates, and Bestiary 1

    GOING OFF-ROAD: It is also possible you don't feel like following the standard "2 levels per book" progression of the adventure path. If so, this is a great place to put in more significant extra content - for example, the Feast of Ravenmoor content could well have the PCs travel to a small town out in the swamps to the west of the city.

    Personally, I love Westcrown, but wish I had developed the land around it a little more, as otherwise getting the city "independence" seems laughable without thousands of square miles of farmland, villages, towns etc to support it.

    Part 6 - Temple of Bastards:

    Escape From New Yo... Cader: Personally, I found the description that the wall between Cader and Crua at the start of this chapter to be .... odd. The wall should have historically been the city's outer wall prior to the expansion into the new territories, and given that the Oberigan Gate is three storeys tall (per Westcrown gazetteer), so suggesting (in the adventure) that the wall is merely 10ft tall is... a little absurd. That doesn't even need siege equipment to scale, just wooden ladders from the corner store. Additionally, the Oberigan Gate is twice as deep as the wall and has - per the gazetteer - 4 doors and 2 portcullises, which open one at a time to let people through. That is one thick wall. For a nice, oppressive prison-city feel to Cader, I'd suggest at least 20ft high and 30ft thick wall (which is likely packed earth in the middle, like the Great Wall of China), though I'd prefer about 30ft to 40ft high, personally.

    This might seem crazy, but a typical city wall is expected to be 30ft tall, and a metropolitan wall is expected to be 40ft tall. And in Pathfinder mechanics, 10ft is... kinda negligible to bypass.

    So getting over the wall should be much harder, and introduces the alternative: Going under it. The Bastards of Erebus are raiding shops and houses in Crua, and while night-time raids would make getting over the wall easier, doing so with a huge amount of goods is still awkward. Having them have secretly cut away the century-old bars in one of the sewer tunnels is a lot easier, and allows for more sewer exploration if the PCs want to avoid scaling the Wall. And yes, the Wall deserves to be capitalized.

    Stopping with the fluff and on to the actual adventure: Right. Well, almost. I appreciate Cader was originally Plea and the slums... but those houses are really spread out. The map is about 1/3rd of an acre, so one would expect housing for around 20 people within that space and between 2 to 4 buildings to do so... so it's about "on par" except for the fact that those buildings are both tiny and multistorey. Generally speaking, unless there is crazy British land tax rates, people generally didn't build up when they could build out more cheaply. Eh. I'm nitpicking here, but making the buildings a bit bigger makes the area less barren and also gives some room to actually fight within them.

    Otherwise this is pretty solid to run as is. Really. It's quite cool (the Mummy's are great). Though I'd suggest you take note of the "Hell Dogs" concept - it's a fun one to play with later.

    Fame: I'd suggest granting a bonus point of Fame for defeating the Bastards of Erebus - they are much more of an immediate threat than some of the previous adversaries, and as such worth noting with extra Fame. Additionally, it raises the amount from this book to 8, which is more on target for a more satisfying conclusion to the adventure path.


    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    BOOK 2 - SIXFOLD TRIAL
    Review

    Crunch:

    Levels: 3-5
    Target: 40,000xp; 30,000gp wealth
    Actual: 54,800xp (varies, 137% of target); 80,603gp (total) / 49,864gp (sale, 166% target)

    Comments: There is a fair amount of optional XP, so having the extra to make sure you get to the right level is a good thing. Additionally, a lot of the "extra wealth" is the Mayor's treasury, which good aligned PCs should hopefully not loot, thus dropping the wealth gain to pretty much on-target.

    Compliments:

    When it comes to adventure paths and things rpg related, Richard Pett is one of my favourite authors. Nicholas Logue is a other. So when I discovered that the Sixfold Trial was not only written by Pett, but the screenplay was provided by his partner in crime, Logue, I knew I was in for a treat: I wasn't disappointed. The Six Trials is glorious, ridiculous and an absurdly fun and memorable experience.

    The rest of the book is a combination of social scenes (well plotted, if perhaps a little light on guests for my tastes) and finally a crawl through one of the stranger dungeons I've seen.

    Dramatic, dripping with flavour and immense amounts of fun.

    Criticisms:

    Despite how much I loved running this module, there are still a couple.

    First, the premise to get the PCs into the play in the first place is a tad sketchy - There are other ways to infiltrate a manor house after all - but given the page limit somewhat understandable as it is generally preferable to spend the pages on the content, rather than how to get the PCs to it. Substance vs. advertising, I guess?

    Second, although Ailyn Ghontasavos is sort of tied in to books 2 & 3, there isn't a whole lot on who she is, and in my game at least she came across as very much the outsider, rather than a comrade. A lot of this is the Pathfinder Society link - she ISN'T one of the Children of Westcrown and lacks enough detail to bring her to life as a character, making her feel like an aloof emissary of an aloof organization. But that could just be me and my players.

    As some have pointed out, the endlessly respawning shadow room is... Mechanically problematic.

    Another criticism of mine (may not be a problem for others) is the circle rooms of randomly opening doors. Do the open and close when one PC passes through, or all PCs? Is there a timer? What happens if PCs get split up? Visually, it's kind of cool, but mechanically we found it extremely clunky.

    A final criticism is the fame points - by default one can gather up to five or lose a bunch with a careless word. Given the importance these play in book 6, the scarce reward coupled with casual ease of losing them is somewhat harsh. I'd be hoping for 7-10 fame per adventure as a minimum... 5 with a good performance is simply too low. A lot of this is the lack of the "more heroics" options that book 1 had.

    Recommendations

    Part 0 - More Heroics:

    Given the pacing of the Sixfold Trial, there really isn't room for side-heroics during the events of the book itself, and there is a bit of a dearth of Fame as it stands. While the revised Fame rewards can compensate for this if the PCs are especially talented on stage and social encounters, however, many groups will find themselves coming out of Book 2 with not a great amount of Fame (or XP, given the bonuses are tied to performance). Or you might just want to give them some things to beat up before the heavy social scenes begin; or maybe you want to get more of Westcrown or the surrounds on camera; or perhaps the play didn't go so well due to poor dice rolls and you want to give them a chance to 'catch up' on Fame... there are plenty of reasons to run More Heroics style missions.

    In any case, the best timing for these is either before the module really picks up, or after the events end. You can create your own content here, or work in low level modules (with a bit of adaptation) such as Feast of Ravenmoor or The Midnight Mirror before the adventure kicks off (with PCs around level 3), or Carnival of Tears, Carrion Hill or Dawn of the Scarlet Sun after it wraps up (with PCs around level 5).

    As a few suggestions that might give inspiration (particularly on making Ailyn more approachable):

    PRE-START HEROICS:

    • Night's Vengeance: "Bluehood" posts a another bounty for shadow beasts, but includes a note about a 'special reward' for those who can deliver something she calls a "Shadow Lord" to her - and to meet her at the usual spot to discuss the details. When the PCs try to meet her behind the Wandering Reefclaw at night, arrive as shadow beasts attack Bluehood, causing her to flee into the night. Killing the stragglers, they then set off on a daring pursuit of their contact - culminating in fighting alongside the unmasked Ailyn Ghontasavos (you'll need to stat her).
    • The Last Bastard: One of the Bastards of Erebus's most talented burglars was out when the PCs assaulted their stronghold, and is enacting bloody retribution on "those rich, complacent, hypocritical fat cats who dare to condemn us for surviving, but are no less murderers themselves" (or something to that effect). He (or she) is stalking the nights in Crua in a rapidly escalating murder spree.
    • Sewer Chase: The Hellknights are pursuing a mercenary from Absolom on suspicion of bearing foreign and unsanctioned documents - Arael and Janiven will reveal this person is none other than Ailyn Ghontasavos, a pathfinder and ally of theirs. Ailyn has fled into the sewers with Hellknights (okay, mostly armigers) close behind - it's time to brave the briny stench once more and try to reach her before the Hellknights do.

    POST-CONCLUSION HEROICS:

    • ENCORE!: The crowds can't get enough of the stunning rendition of the Six Trials of Larazod, and Aberian himself kneels before Robahl begging for another performance. His ego sated, the tyrannical director agrees and contacts the PCs for a second performance... but now they find the parts of Handerthaan and their diva need filling, as Thesing has stormed off and Delour refuses to play second fiddle to "That Untrained Wench" again. Can the PCs rise to the occasion, find replacements for some of the roles and pull off another masterpiece?
    • The Limehouse Players: Robahl might not want to touch "Murderplay" again with a 10ft pole, but that doesn't mean he's quitting theatre, and he does have a playhouse to maintain. PCs who showed actual aptitude for stage work might earn his respect enough to be brought in to do other plays.
    • Debased & Disgraced: Thesing stormed off after the premier, and out of rage and spite used his family's wealth to hire assassins to go after the PCs (especially the one playing Larazod). Unable to afford (he could only take so much) "professional" assassins (who work for Council), he settled for a Crua group of ill-repute and less subtlety. The PCs find themselves targeted by killers-for-hire and need to go on the offensive to stop the attacks, and unmask their employer - forcing the disgraced noble to flee justice and become a fugitive.

    Part 1 - Shadows Lengthen:

    The Premise: Is sketchy as hell. I'd suggest having Ailyn actually have the confession/debriefing of a Thrune "Pathfinder" who later had a change of heart and fled to Absolom to rejoin the society and escape his infernal master's clutches. Thus, she knows that the last Mayor took all the documentation and details of the efforts to reclaim Delvehaven (and the deed) and locked them in a Chelish Crux and put it in his famed vault - burying the matter "for all time". No guesswork involved. She also knows from the same agent that infiltration is virtually impossible - the manor is warded with something akin to forbiddance, only more powerful, and only those who are invited may enter safely, otherwise they are struck down with crippling pain and torment. In other words... the PCs, specifically, need to be invited... but she has an idea on how they can achieve that. Cue Six Trials of Larazod.

    The "dubious" nature of the hook to get the PCs into the play is one of the biggest complaints I've seen regarding this book, but it's easy to fix if you're prepared for it.

    Part 2 - Dress Rehearsal:

    Performance, Popularity and Bonus XP: Popularity is the measure by which the success of the play is determined, and while it's heavily dice dependant, having PCs with even a single rank in Perform (act) is an amazing advantage. Ultimately, if the PCs aren't hitting the required numbers for the bonus XP, or overall aren't faring that well, you might want to bolster their XP and Fame with some extra content after the adventure wraps up.

    If you're curious, the numbers look like this:

    • Base Popularity = Highest PC level check +2 per PC that beat 10. Assume around 15
    • Each PC that beats a DC 20 on casting = +1
    • Day 3: Each PC that beats a DC15 Perform (act) check = +2
    • Day 4: Per PC that beats a DC15 Perform (act) check = +2
    • Day 4: Per PC that fails the DC15 Diplomacy or Perform (act) check = -4
    • Dress Rehearsal: "Larazod" makes seven DC20 Perform (act) checks = +10 per success

    So all going extremely well (mainly by having someone with Perform (act) or good Charisma as Larazod), you could get through the Dress Rehearsal with as much as 3,800 bonus XP and 105 popularity, or as little as zero in both.

    Friendships: Grant bonus XP and some extra benefits - noting that Robahl and Calseinica make an enormous difference to how the play performs, whereas the others are largely optional and in the case of Thesing... unlikely. It's worth nudging the PCs towards those two at least, if they don't take the initiative (dropping what friendship with Calseinica does may be a way to motivate them).

    Fame and Identity: It was generally established in Book 1 that the PCs are likely (again your choice as GM, but I'd recommend it) to maintain separation between their 'real' identities and their 'superhero' identities (ala Bruce Wayne vs. Batman), and this gets tricky to run with when the PCs are expected to be stars of the big stage, so there are three ways of handling it as I see it:

    • 1)Don't have secret identities for PCs. This is the simplest way, and given most players avoid having any families or friends to protect (which makes me sad), isn't likely to be problematic.
    • 2) Give the PCs stage names similar to their "Children of Westcrown" superhero pseudonym, and have them make heavy use of makeup (disguise kits) in order to alter their appearance enough to not be instantly recognizable (ala Clark Kent). This ensures that as their superhero persona becomes more widely known, the fame from the performance ties to them and to the Children of Westcrown (as intended) rather than the PC's real identity (until they do the reveal ala Iron Man).
    • 3)Have the PCs real identities be the actors, and arrange to have the reveal later in the adventure path (book 5 or 6) to essentially let the two pools of Fame merge and be usable by the PCs.

    Personally, I'm a big fan of the second.

    Part 3 - The Nightshade Theatre:

    If you at all can, get the players to act the whole thing out. It's totally worth it. I managed to get Larazod's player to turn an incredible shade of crimson with Ilsandra - it was awesome. Do it.

    By the stock numbers, the PCs should hopefully have a series of bonuses to playing their part; +2 from practice, +2 from Calseinica (+4 for Larazod) and +4 from Robahl, for a total of between +8 to +10, meaning even complete amateurs to stage work should be able to pull off a decent performance. Assuming that "Larazod" has (with these) at least a +15 and the other three PCs at least a +10, they should be raking in 65 Popularity in the first Act (no Drovalid), then 85 per Act thereafter, for a total of 575 popularity. Minus missed cues, breaking character and so on. Furthermore, at the end of the play, each PC that survives gains 100 Popularity, as does Calseinica if she is playing Ilsandra, which should net an additional 500 Popularity, amounting to a total of over 1100 when added to that from the Dress Rehearsal.

    Now, you'll likely notice that the standard Fame Point chart means that if all four PCs (and Calseinica) survive the play, a mere 1 extra point of Popularity is enough to rake in the maximum Fame. This is a 'safe' design choice to allow for the most thuggish murderhobos to not be penalized too greatly for having the charisma of mud. Personally, I like the idea of rewarding the players for really getting into the play, rather than merely surviving it, so created a revised reward chart, as follows:

    • Popularity 0 or less: -1 Fame
    • Popularity 0 to 20: +0 Fame
    • Popularity 21-100: +1 Fame
    • Popularity 101-300: +2 Fame
    • Popularity 301-600: +3 Fame
    • Popularity 601-1200: +4 Fame
    • Popularity 1201 or more: +5 Fame

    NOTE: Obviously, the above changes dramatically with party size. Only 3 PCs would normally not only make it harder to keep Calseinica alive, but slice over 200 Fame off the tally. Ouch. Similarly, while larger parties make the Belly of the Beast harder, they can also add hundreds of additional Popularity to the result. Personally... I prefer the idea of quality over quantity, so I recommend the following modifications:

    • Disguise: If a PC can make a DC20 Disguise check can customize and improve their costume (or another PCs), granting an additional +2 Circumstance bonus to play that character.
    • The highest 4 Perform (act) checks during the play contribute to the Popularity score (thus larger groups will perform better due to more rolls, but not dramatically so).
    • Alternatively, rather than each rolling individually a PC can choose to assist another in their performance, granting them a +2, should they make a DC10.
    • Each PC that survives the play awards 100 popularity, to a maximum of 400.
    • If one or more PC has won Calseinica's friendship, she counts as a PC for the above, with the GM rolling her Perform (act) each Act.
    • NPCs from the Children of Westcrown, such as Amaya, Gorvio or Janiven, may fill roles within the play (including the optional non-speaking roles), and function as PCs for the above purposes (the GM typically rolls for their Perform (act)).

    The above ensures that, regardless of group size, the possible Popularity range is similar, and allows for more interaction with the Children of Westcrown NPCs if so desired. Noting that hitting the +3 Fame mark is relatively easy, but getting the +4 or +5 requires a good performance from the PCs, rather than merely adequate.

    Part 4 - The Cornucopia:

    My group have a great love of social scenes and drama, so I wound up modifying the Cornucopia rather than adding More Heroics to book 2 - in hindsight I liked the addition, but would probably tone it back and run some extra content were (or when) I run it again.... Or simply to out more Fame points in total (more likely).

    That said, if you have a social group, something to consider is handing out a point of fame (or two) if the PCs do extremely well in the social parts of the game - I ran with 1 Fame for discovering at least half the gossip and 2 Fame for getting it all. My reasoning is that it is one thing for the PCs to earn their way into one of the most powerful of political circles, but it's another to actually handle being their competently and as such will earn them some prestige and influence.

    My other recommendation is in regards to the major-domo, Crosael Rasdovain: By default she is NOT a willing part of the Council of Thieves or the Drovenge siblings scheme at this point, but is simply being blackmailed to give them access to the manor via an agent. The Infernal Syndrome assumes that she goes on a path of character development in the background over the next few books and subsequently joins Eccardian's team willingly at the start of that book. But that hasn't happened yet, and given that she's not sympathetic to the villains at this point, and has a hook for the PCs (missing Sian - she's intended to tell them this), there's an extremely good chance that the assumed development of Crosael into a fully-fledged... inconsequential minion in Infernal Syndrome might not actually happen.

    In essence, she is one of the most interesting characters in the Cornucopia, and actually one most suitable for enterprising PCs to turn into a contact, ally or more. Don't worry about the loss of continuity in Infernal Syndrome - her role in that book is negligible and easily replaced with a bribed servant or "guest" minion of the Drovenges. Thus, I'd strongly recommend NOT stonewalling the PCs should they try to build a relationship (potentially romantic, but not probably not) with Crosael, and instead let the roleplay follow it's natural progression. If the PCs win over Crosael as a sympathetic and 'allied' character, award them 1 Fame point and adjust Infernal Syndrome to suit.

    NB: There is little information on Crosael or the Rasdovains who are (according to the gazetteer) the least of Arvanxi's beholden families. Given this, plus over a decade of service to Aberian and being a tiefling from Korvosa, she's either:

    • 1) Married into the Rasdovain family to get her current position... which is (to my thinking) highly unlikely as she'd have been (no, seriously) found out by her husband as being a tiefling and almost certainly not helped into the job, but more likely killed off for her duplicity and 'shameful' breeding.
    • 2) Was already the major-domo and married into Rasdovain for prestige... Which is even more unlikely as it means exposing her secret to others and potentially losing everything for comparatively little gain (she is already in a position of power and privilege).
    • 3)Born with the name Rasdovain and was ennobled by Aberian after many years of service and is thus the only member of the "house". I went with this one, as I found it the most plausible.

    And as an aside: Her art is extremely different between the two books, and neither match her description very well. She is intended to look like an attractive middle-aged human woman. Now, her biological age is an entirely different question, as tieflings are quite long lived, though I'd take these tiefling life-spans with a grain of salt (or a half-ton), as it suggests they only hit adulthood at sixty which would cause all kinds of problems for both Eccardian and the lore of Cheliax overall. I'd suggest at approximately half-elf life-spans. In any case; it's justifiable to play around with her biological age, appearance, artwork and moreover her attitude (how long term are her plans?) as much as you like.

    What can I say, I liked the character and my players loved her, so she wound up taking on a larger role in the story.

    Part 5 - The Asmodean Knot:

    I'm going to be frank... It's hard to map something with is trying to foster the sense of impossible geometry. The concept is cool, but given the heavy use of spiral stairs and such, battle maps can get odd.

    My overall recommendation is to try to "narrate" the dungeon layout rather than draw it, wherever possible. Drawing an individual room to have an encounter in is cool, but deliberately avoiding drawing the layout of the "dungeon" helps foster the sense of confusion the place is going for... Aaaand in because the clusters of circular rooms with randomized passages will drive you INSANE (if you're anything like me). On the topic of insanity, I have two suggestions:

    Nerf the shadow room: There is a room which spawns shadows constantly - infinite numbers of them, but max 6 at a time. At best an XP farm, at worst a TPK. Have the devices easier to reach and give more xp (about 6 shadows worth), but have the summoned shadows function as summoned shadows and give no xp, and be dismissed on breaking the mirror that summoned it. If the party can't damage them quickly, you might also want to reduce the spawning rate.

    The Knot's Heart: The halls of infinite d4s is a fascinating idea, but my players found it really, REALLY cumbersome, to the point where it was far more of an annoyance than a threat, even with Sian in there, and I was begged to just skip the remainder once she was defeated. As an alternative I'd suggest a puzzle whereby players face chambers with 1d4 doors and a hole in the floor. Jumping in the hole drops you back into the starting chamber (after 1d4 minutes of falling and 1d4 dice of falling damage - gravity is weird here), and each has a percentile chance of either sending you somewhere, or creating a new chamber for you (with 1d4 portals in it, and a 50% chance of a special feature or encounter). Each portal that is created adds a +10% modifier to the roll.

    • 1-70% - Create a new chamber.
    • 70-90% - Return to a previous (or current) room, unless it would cause a dead-end scenario.
    • 91+ % - Exit from the Knot (Into B12, B13, B20 or B22, GM choice or roll a d4)

    Once a chamber is created, it stays that way until the Heart is reset (automatic after being vacant for an hour, but Sian stole the device that allows one to reset all empty chambers so gets to mess with the PCs if you like). Special Feature suggestions:

    • 1-20% - Strange gravity (Heavy: Everyone is staggered; None: No gravity; Subjective: Gravity points towards the closest surface; Changing: Changes direction each round on Initiative 20)
    • 21-40% - Strange environment (Toxic: 1d6 acid damage a round, DC15 Fort save or be nauseated for a round; Aquatic: It's completely full of water; Airless: There's no air; Frigid: It's impossibly cold, 1d6 cold damage per round and DC15 Fort save or be staggered; Blistering: It's impossibly hot, 1d6 fire damage per round and DC15 Fort save or be fatigued)
    • 41-60% - Strange Lighting (Black: It's utterly dark and everyone is blind, regardless of senses; Glaring: It's impossibly bright, and everyone is blind, regardless of senses; Kaleidoscopic: The room whorls in colours and patterns, forcing DC15 Will saves or be confused for a round)
    • 61-80% - Strange Occupants (Oh... pick anything really. I'd suggest devils for the Asmodean theme... but when else are you going to get to play with qlippoths and the like?)
    • 81-100% - Roll twice, discarding rolls of 81+

    Maybe it would work better. Maybe not. I haven't tested it, but I have GMed the published version and... well maybe it works for other people better than it did for us. Good luck!

    Otherwise the Knot only the whole is a pretty damn cool place :)

    Loot: In addition to what is in the Asmodean Knot, I'd recommend adding in the following (it'll come in handy later, so you might want to suggest the PCs hang on to them rather than sell them off immediately):

    • Libra Diabolis: Magically preserved tome on the summoning and binding of devils, including a number of true names of lesser fiends, as well as descriptions of a broad array of otherwise little known fiends. Grants one who studies it and keeps it on their person the ability to adjust the summon monster line of spells, as written up in the Addendum.
      2 scrolls of summon monster V (CL10), 3 scrolls of summon monster IV (CL10), 7 scrolls of summon monster II (CL10), 2 scrolls magic circle against evil, 1 scroll planar binding


    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    BOOK 3 - WHAT LIES IN DUST
    Review

    Crunch:

    Levels: 5-7
    Target: 80,000xp; 52,000gp wealth
    Actual: 63,800xp (80% of target); 188,537gp (total) / 95,918gp (sale, 184% target)

    Comments: Overall too little XP in this module, which then relies on the GM to add content or the players to have extra from the previous to hit the target levels (or give story XP, which the module tends not to).

    There is a lot more loot up for grabs than there perhaps should be, as PCs will be walking out of this module with 160-200% of recommended WBL - I'd strongly recommend ditching the Luckstone and +1 Animal Bane Heavy Crossbow, and potentially removing the sale price on grave candles (which could also help to stop them buying more) to keep the numbers on target, unless your PCs are struggling to acquire loot, burning through a lot of consumables, or spending a lot of wealth on NPCs and the organization.


    Compliments:

    From his past works, one of Michael Kortes' strengths seems to be his characters: He does excellent characterisation, loving background details, creative ideas and memorable villains, and What Lies in Dust is no exception in this regard, as even an undead devil head is brought to life (oxymoron aside :P).

    In the soul dolls and the vampire trio, What Lies in Dust has some of the most memorable and flavourful villains in the entire adventure path, and in particular, the library was a joy for myself and my players alike.

    And the Devildrome. The Devildrome was freaking awesome.


    Criticisms:

    The single biggest complaint/criticism from our experience with What Lies in Dust is highly subjective and likely not shared by many (or even most) groups: Delvehaven felt like a Darling. Maybe it's just because we aren't involved in the PFS (nor is anyone we know) and thus the 'magic' was missing from the place, but my players came to actually resent the lodge's central role in the book, with the consensus being that while the historical tidbits were cool (they loved the library), they felt like their story had been subverted and turned into a guided tour of someone-else's "cool thing". Again, this may not be a problem for most groups, and I'm sure many will love the chance to see and explore an in-universe ruined Lodge... but for us it was wound up being an impediment to the enjoyment of the game.

    Moving on to the adventure itself, while the characterization is beautiful (and one of the things I love about Michael's work), the plot hangs a bit thin, in my opinion, and gets a bit shaky when examined up close.

    To explain a little: Sivanshin has been in Westcrown for 30-odd years (arrived in 4676), and has ruled the night ever since, but in all that time has never once attempted to recover the opposing artefact hidden within Delvehaven or otherwise search/reoccupy the place, even though he knows it intimately as it was his former base of operations. That's.... odd. Odder still is that, regardless of how the PCs go about matters, he will discover their interest in Delvehaven and send forth vampiric minions now to try and destroy (noting it's an artefact) Morrowfall before the PCs can reach it. It's... just a bit hard to swallow, and my players didn't, doubly so as they were being very discreet up until this point and felt... displeased... with the concept that their investigations would be exposed because the plot demands it.

    Furthermore, there isn't exactly a lot of purpose to the séances with the dead pathfinders, as neither of them seem to actually possess any truly useful information (nor does the Wave Door contain any necessary items, just some extra consumables and a key to a couple of locks)... which is unfortunate, because the lead up missions were actually really good.

    A commentary on the Delvehaven map as well, is that the two above-ground floors don't actually mesh very well - if you take the time to draw one on top of the other it winds up a very, very strange looking building when viewed from the outside. That may be intentional, though I had to endure a 15 minute rant on architecture from one of my players for it :(

    In summary: This was my least favourite book of the Adventure Path, though it also carried within it little tidbits that were also among my favourites.... I just wish there were more of them. Anyway, I'll stop beating up on it and get to some recommendations from our experience with the thing.


    Recommendations
    Before we start off on the individual sections, it's worth taking stock of how the PCs (and the players) reacted to Ailyn Ghontasavos. Above all, I'd suggest not forcing the issue - if the players love her, stat her up and let her join the team; If the players hate her, don't push her in their faces and instead keep her involvement light and exiting the stage once this book is concluded. Or anywhere within that spectrum.

    My group considered her an ally... but neither "part of the team" nor a potential recruit, as she was part of another hidden (in Cheliax) organization already, with her own agenda. She was a point of contact regarding the Pathfinders and Delvehaven, but at the conclusion of the adventure gave the rewards she had promised and returned to Absolom to deliver the information the PCs acquired for her - and that was the last she was seen of, and my players preferred it that way.

    Part 0 - More Heroics:

    This book was actually the motivation behind creating volumes of "More Heroics" for the subsequent books, because while I loved the mini-adventures that lead up to Delvehaven, I found the section ultimately a little too brief before the adventure plunged into Delvehaven itself. That and the four fame points was less than half what should really be on offer at this point - to put it in perspective the entire book is worth less fame than returning some stolen goods from Walcourt.

    I ran three additional mini-adventures in Book 3, and personally interspersed them among the lead-up adventures of the Devildrome etc, though really they can occur in any order.

    SLAVERS OF WESTCROWN: Slaver's of Westcrown is a five-part mini-adventure focused on uncovering and breaking an illegal slaving operation within the decaying metropolis of Westcrown, beginning with a (probably) new contact in "Rose" and investigation; the Thaltos & Company warehouse; Jorag's training yard; the Cader barge; and finally, the Gemcrown Labour Services.

    Hook: There are several ways to get the Children of Westcrown involved, though I'd suggest running with an anonymous message via one of Arael's contacts, asking to meet in the Riverboat Inn in Scripa and signed "Rose".

    The Rose Connection: The Riverboat Inn is exactly what it sounds like, with the common room being half-empty and at a shadowy table in the corner of the common room is a hooded figure and single rose lying beside an empty flagon - "Rose" avoids revealing her identity, but is in fact Saria Roccin, Durotas of Parego Spera, and is after someone outside the force who can deal with a problem out of her jurisdiction. She'll explain the below, and offer a reward, as well as a potential bonus depending on what the PCs achieve (I'll leave you to determine the amount).

    People have been going missing throughout Rego Crua (and Cader), including a number of halflings, though no corresponding bodies have been showing up. Recently a group of Egorian "merchants" by the name of Thaltos & Company have bought a warehouse nestled up against the Oberigan Wall in Rego Crua, bringing in a suspicious amount of hardware and materials, but have yet to open trade. That alone is enough to warrant observation... but they've been seen receiving wagons just before sunset, on days when people have been reported missing.

    Thaltos & Company: The warehouse is a cover operation for a kidnapping and illegal slave trading ring, and during the day Thaltos' dozen goons loiter and move crates around - 'acting' as simple hired hands if anyone looks too closely. When they 'finish up' most of them leave in small groups and travel through the streets and taverns of Rego Crua, looking for easy targets or "loose slips" whom they cosh unconscious and literally bag, hiding until the collection wagon does a tour of the district, then loading up their captives for the afternoon. By this method they've been abducting up to a dozen people a day (usually about half that) and supplying them to Jorag and his crew.

    The warehouse is a ramshackle and dilapidated affair, with the ground floor dedicated to stacks of crates (mostly empty or filled with shoddy goods) which cover the secret entrance to the sewer tunnel. Thaltos himself maintains an office in the top floor of the warehouse, where he avoids direct contact with the 'product' but instead manages the sales and finance, and a dozen small jobs on the side to scrape in some extra coin.

    ENCOUNTER (CR7): They are generally in groups of 3-4 if caught unawares, but if alerted all survivors will try to band together.

    • (CR 5) Thaltos: NE male human bard 6
    • (CR 1/2)[/b] Thugs: NE male human warrior 2 (6)
    • Loot: NPC gear (Thaltos has 3,450gp, including a masterwork rapier and mithral chain shirt), documentation, 4000 silver pieces in bags of 200 coins each.

    The Breaking Yard: The hatch in the warehouse leads to a section of sewers long cut off from the majority of the network through a mixture of collapses, deliberate modifications and blockages, but after several hundred feet eventually leads to a small sewer maintenance room beneath the streets of Rego Cader, whose walls are lined with benches and crates filled with second hand clothes and similar mundane possessions. A small staircase leads up to a aged wooden door, and beyond a beautifully carved crypt, now desecrated, with the long interred remains of past priests of Shelyn scattered to make way for wood-and-iron cages. It is here, in the defiled crypts of an abandoned shrine of Shelyn that Jorag keeps the captives, and through torture and humiliation, breaks them into submission before sale.

    Jorag himself is reasonably notorious within the worst parts of Rego Crua - a killer for hire, he and his four cronies have long been a terror in the region, and now they ply the worst of their trades on people kidnapped from the streets of Crua and desperate residents of Cader. Currently they have thirty captives within the ruins; 6 halflings and 5 humans from Crua, and 7 tieflings and 12 humans from Cader, with roughly equal numbers of either gender. All are in various states of torment and mistreatment, though Jorag takes pains to avoid scarring as it 'devalues the merchandise'. Furthermore, records are on premises indicating they have sold 97 so far, and dumped the bodies of another dozen into the nearby ruins, who didn't survive the 'training'. A knowledge (local) check of DC15 or more will notice the sale value is well below standard rates - low enough for a trader to on-sell them at a substantial profit.

    ENCOUNTER (CR7): The killers are generally in groups of 2, and Jorag alone, unless alerted, whereupon they band together to form an ambush for the PCs, if possible.

    • (CR 5) Jorag: NE male tiefling rogue 6
    • (CR 1) Killers: NE male human rogue 2 (4)
    • Loot: NPC gear, 2,305gp of valuables and coins gathered from sales and 'sold merchandise', records.
    • Fame: 1 Fame Point for breaking the abduction and slavery ring, and liberating those imprisoned.

    The Cader Barge: Thaltos kept extensive records as proof he wasn't cheating his partner, Jorag, but kept them in the training yard to avoid accidental discovery at the warehouse. These records also show regular sales, and a surviving thug (or journal if the PCs killed them all) will eventually yield information that a barge comes in with a bunch of guards and they make the exchange then and there.... and that a barge is due at dawn, and need only be signalled as it approaches with three flashes from a lantern for it to come and dock.

    Assuming the PCs wish to pursue this further, give them enough time to rest if they need it (or if you'd like to keep the pressure on, have it come sooner). The ship itself is a relatively brief but intense encounter - the barge captain will be attentive and likely notice quite quickly that the PCs aren't the "regular crew" he deals with unless they take pains to disguise themselves. Either way, while the captain is more disciplined, his crew are hardly the most reputable band of goons in the world, and will gladly sell out on their destination if it keeps them alive.

    ENCOUNTER (CR6): The barge grew are all together, but if the PCs disguise themselves as thugs and do a reasonable job of it (Disguise or Bluff DC15), they'll be able to get in position and a surprise round.

    • (CR 3) Barge Captain: LE male human ranger 4 (favoured enemy: human)
    • (CR 1/2) Barge thugs: NE male human warrior 2 (4)
    • (CR 1/4) Barge Crew: NE male human commoner 1 (12) - No gear except clothes and a club.
    • Loot: NPC gear (noting that Barge Crew have virtually nothing)

    Gemcrown Labour Services: The Gemcrown Labour Services is a licensed slave trader, and other than buying illegal slaves (which the owners would almost certainly claim to have no knowledge of), it technically isn't committing any crimes... just atrocities. Owned by the Rufano family, it specializes in imports of foreign slaves, and exports of slaves from Westcrown to Egorian, where higher demand yields better prices. Sitting on the central island-marina, it consists of a private wharf, warehouse, stockyard, barracks and office, with a 10ft high wooden wall erected around the grounds which are patrolled by lantern-bearing guards with dogs (patrols are typically two guards and a mastiff) and watchtowers overlook the road to the rest of the marina and docks. A summary of the locations is below:

    • Warehouse: Locked (DC25) but mostly just supplies of stores needed to feed, clothe and control the slaves, plus keep the guards fed.
    • Stockyard: Renovated from a pair of brick three-storey storehouses with the region between fenced in, the two prison buildings contain dozens of cells with cots and basic amenities. Rooftop catwalks allow patrolling guards to watch the compound and lanterns maintain at least dim illumination around it at all times. The courtyard is used to bath and exercise the imprisoned slaves - men on the morning, women in the afternoon. One building currently houses 90 male slaves the other 70 female slaves, with the upper floor dedicated to larger and more comfortable cells for slaves intended for more "personal" services.
    • Barracks: Facilities and quarters for the thirty guards that watch over the facility - they rotate guards in and out on a 10 days on - 5 days off rotation, but 30 are on site at any time, working in two shifts. The barracks also has kennels for the dozen mastiffs that help patrol the grounds
    • Office: The office contains records of sales, shipments and other documents, while the upper floor serves as Halvin Rufano's apartments, and include a hidden (DC25) safe (DC35 to open) containing records for over three hundred purchases within the last month - a third of whom from illegal sources at a fraction of normal prices, and 40 of whom have already been shipped out. These records are damning enough to not only convict everyone involved, but if turned over to an appropriate party, could destroy the reputation of House Rufano and scandalize House Khollarix for the actions of their beholden house. [+1 Fame if these documents are handed to "Rose" or another authority]

    ENCOUNTER (CR Varies): Generally 15 guards are on watch at any time, but distributed between patrols, guard posts, watchtowers and the stockyard. Halvin is typically in the office building along with a staff of 10 (mostly commoner 1 or expert 1, who only work during the day, go home at night, and don't engage in combat).

    • (CR 6) Halven Rufano: LE male Chelish human magus 7
    • (CR 1/2) Guards: LE male human warrior 2 (30) (typically chainmail, longsword, lgt crossbow)
    • (CR 1/3) Dogs: see Bestiary 1 (12)
    • Loot: NPC gear (including Halvin's +1 rapier, and +1 breastplate), plus 3,800gp in coins in the safe.
    • Fame: +1 Fame point for exposing the criminal dealings of the Gemcrown Labour Services and House Rufano (and putting a dent in the power base of the Council of Thieves).

    THE MISSING ACTOR: With dramatic retellings of the PCs deeds underway at the Limehouse Theatre (Amaya's doing in my game), the publicity was bound to draw less desirable attention at some point, and that point is now. Shanwen Khollarix (assuming he survived, otherwise another Hellknight) is itching for vengeance for the humiliation of Arael's rescue, and has conjured a cunning plan to that affect - clearly these actors are involved with the real "Children of Westcrown" somehow, and if the vigilantes attacked an armoured wagon to save one of their own, surely they'll do so again?

    Shanwen and his armigers kidnap Dalifin, an aspiring actor from southern Crua, and hold him hostage in a warehouse by the docks. In order to draw the vigilantes to his bait, Shanwen also pinned a note to the door of the Limehouse with a dagger, demanding that the "Children of Westcrown" show to negotiate for his return. His plan? When the PCs show up, bludgeon them unconscious and drag them in irons to Citadel Rivad. It's not the smartest plan, but no one accused Shanwen of being the smartest of hellknights.
    Location: Limehouse Theatre and Scripa docks.
    Hooks: The PCs will likely be contacted by either Robahl (who will be furious at the defacing of his door and disruption to his theatre) or Amaya (if she's involved in the plays).

    ENCOUNTER (CR8): Shanwen and his armigers are waiting to ambush the PCs, and have stationed themselves around the warehouse entrance, with the actor bound in a chair in plain sight. Stealthy PCs should be able to scout and plan accordingly.

    • (CR 4) Shanwen Khollarix: LE male human cleric of Asmodeus 5
    • (CR 1) Veteran Armigers: LN male human fighter 2 (10)
    • Loot: NPC gear (armiger chainmail, longswords, Shanwen has +1 full plate and a +1 longsword - noting all armour is obviously of hellknight design and will be instantly recognized).
    • Fame: +1 Fame if the PCs defeat the Hellknights and save the captive without killing any of the hellknights.

    ONYX DEALINGS: A broker in Rego Sacero has been buying up stocks of black onyx, among other gems, from across the city, while his activities have been largely concealed by other purchases, false accounts and proxies, the pattern is alarming for those who recognize it for what it is. In truth, the Broker is but an agent for the Buyer, who in turn is being blackmailed to supply the gems as payment to an anonymous group, who are secretly a cult of Urgothoa.

    The Broker: Dashral Katholus lives in a modest three-storey house on the lower slopes of Aroden's Rise, and is a prominent gem broker within the city and as such keeps a number of guards on staff, as well as guard dogs. His records he keeps in his study, though his more confidential records are kept in an adjacent secret room hidden behind a sliding bookcase (DC25 to find the door, DC30 to discover and disarm the trap, DC35 to unlock), which in turn give the identity of the Buyer; Hulio Seidraith, a minor noble of good standing who lives in a luxurious canal-fronted townhouse in Rego Corna. Within the safe are also 5,000gp of various gems, however stealing them and trying to sell them will result in the PCs losing 1 point of Fame unless they do so extremely carefully and via a fence (for 20% of their market value).

    The Buyer: While it is ordinarily very difficult to infiltrate Parego Regicona quietly, the nearby gatehouse over the canal appears to have been partially sabotaged - the lantern hooks have broken off (and yet to be replaced) casting a dark shadow over the southern canal bank, and the water-side gate (used by dottari to enter and exit without lifting the entire gate) has had the lock oiled and partially dismantled for ease of unlocking (DC15 Disable Device to unlock). Hulio himself doesn't know whom he is giving the gems to, merely that they have proof of several of his... indiscretions at the Rapture, that his wife and four young children don't need to know about. Proof of his involvement can be found in his desk drawer on the fourth floor of his townhouse, but more importantly, he's kept some of the letters he's received (in the vain hope that one day he can get the dottari to bring the blackmailers to justice), which give the drop-off location behind the townhouse. NB: Assaulting or killing Hulio or his family will cause PCs to lose 1 point of Fame.

    The Cult: Staking out the drop-off point will eventually see pair of hooded figures arriving, collecting the gems and then returning via the sabotaged gate to a rowboat and further four figures. Together, they row out across the Dhaenflow to Rego Cader - to a dilapidated temple of Pharasma, which has been "reconsecrated" to Urgothoa. There, they find the priest, his cultists and their undead servants.

    Hooks: Two potential hooks are available - The first is "Rose" who may contact the PCs again, the second is Tarvi, whose parents operate the jewellery store "The Glitter Palace", while she herself is more versed in arcane matters. Either one will want to follow the trail and uncover what lies at it's end.

    ENCOUNTER (CR9): The undead are spread throughout the temple, but generally the priest keeps 6 zombies (all female) with him at all times.

    • (CR 4) Priest of Urgothoa: NE male human cleric of Urgothoa 5
    • (CR 1) Lay priests: NE male tiefling rogue 2 (2)
    • (CR 1/3) Cultists: NE male human warrior 1 (4)
    • (CR 1/2) Human zombies (12)
    • (CR 1/3) Human skeletons (12)
    • Loot: NPC gear, 64 black onyx gems worth a total of 1,600gp, various gems, jewellery and coinage totalling a further 400gp.
      Fame: +1 Fame point for destroying the temple of Urgothoa and ending the cult.

    Part 1 - Within the Crux:

    The Crux: The Crux is basically a giant d12, which has a sequence you need to guess within 8 attempts or it resets. The odds of picking the correct sequence on any given go are 1 in 479,001,600, and solving it before it resets is then around (I can't be bothered with proper statistics) 1-in-sixty-million.

    One. In. Sixty. Million.

    It's best to just use the option for a Disable Device or Intelligence check (or possibly UMD or Spellcraft if the PCs are otherwise lacking the needed skills). No one is patient enough to deal with the Crux as a guessing game, unless they're absurdly lucky. Alternatively, using a d10 drops the odds to 1-in-450,000, a d8 drops it to 1-in-5,000 and a d6 drops it to 1-in-90, so if you really want to play the guessing puzzle, swapping in a smaller die type might be feasible.

    (If you're interested, the odds basically go as follows: 1/12 x 1/11 x 1/10 x 1/8 and so on. Obviously then decreasing the number of sides drops the impossibility of the odds by around an order of magnitude per side).

    Khazrae Kuelata: There are a few things that can be done with Khazrae's head, and it will largely depend on what the PCs want to do. If they want to shove her back in the box - that's fine. If they want to try and redeem the former erinyes, I'd suggest that expending the resources to cure her madness, as well as some good roleplay should be sufficient to drag her up to Neutral, though hitting Good should be a very significant endeavour on their part, and take a while.

    As for restoring her body... the published module suggests wish as being adequate, and it likely would be (wish can do most things), but, if the players decapitate a called erinyes (there's one in The Infernal Syndrome) and stitch her head on along with a regenerate spell or ring of regeneration, it's a less expensive (if weirder) way of achieving the same end result. Personally, the thought of the PCs literally having a guardian angel amused me too much not to let them get away with it :P

    Part 2 - The Devildrome:

    I must admit, this was my favourite part of this book - it's dramatic, it's crazy, it's fun and so very, very Cheliax. My only complaint was how short the section was... So naturally I added to it! I also moved it to Rego Crua, as one shouldn't have to break into jail to visit the arena, when it is not technically illegal.

    Star-Power: By default Rance recognizes the PCs on sight... despite seeing them only when they were in costumes so elaborate as to disguise race, age and gender. I recommend ignoring that, and just having him start off indifferent unless the PCs let on that they're also the stars of the Sixfold Trial, at which point he'll offer them a deal: He'll get them into the tournament even if they're not hellcallers, provided they get Larazod in full costume in there fighting the devils personally. Otherwise, he recently lost one of his star line up (a signifier-in-disguise who was recalled back to Citadel Rivad on suspicion of illegal gambling) and needs someone to take their place - if they can get him to Friendly he'll let them try out for the position against another applicant (N male conjurer 4 using lemures and fiendish animals), and if successful will place them at the bottom of the draw for the Hellcaller's Cup.

    Diabolism: Normally there's precious few devils actually capable of being summoned, which makes the awesome concept of the Devildrome a little harder to enact mechanically. In the interests of fun, mayhem and Michael Buffer style theatrics, I threw together some extra devils as well as alternate lists for summon monster spells in the Addendum to this beast of a document. If the PCs hung on to the Libra Diabolis they'll have access to the list, and they got a few scrolls from the Knot in Book 2 which should help - including a scroll of planar binding if they're feeling lucky.

    Hellcaller Cup: The Devildrome hosts matches each weekend, but it is the monthly Hellcaller's Cup that draws the biggest crowds, as the top-tier of his gladiators have their devils duke it out for the entertainment of the crowd. The competition is 4 rounds long, with the PCs taking the 16th spot in the line up. The prize is the Cup - worth 1000gp on it's own, but selling it will cause the PCs to lose 1 Point of Fame - and the prize pool it contains; typically 2,000gp of gems, coin and jewellery. The PCs face the following line up to claim the prize, and Ghaelfin's petrified remains (See "Casting Breath of Life on Westcrown" for more information), noting that each match lasts until one side has no living creatures in the arena, or until the gladiator forfeits.

    • Round 1: Chalmire "The Genius" Vostagant: NE male human unchained summoner 7, pitting his eidolon at the PC gladiator with a couple of summon monster spells to give support.
    • Round 2: Volcrani "Avalanche" Harstor: NE male human cleric of Asmodeus 8, focuses on mass summoning of lemures to overwhelm his enemies.
    • Round 3: Lethilani "Hound Queen" Thalor: CN female tiefling sorcerer 8, who today uses hellhounds and fiendish hyenas.
    • Round 4: Mantrithor "Hellmaster" Thrax: LE male human conjurer 9, who brings his bound bearded devil "Infernius" to the match, along with a host of summoned devils. (NB: He generally shouldn't jump in to fight unless Infernius dies early in the match)

    Fame: Competing in the Hellcaller Cup and winning at least 1 match earns the PCs 1 Fame Point. Winning the tournament earns the PCs an additional 1 Fame Point.

    Chammady Drovenge: Honestly, I loved the chance to actually introduce Chammady as a character and build some degree of rapport, and given that the PCs should have no reason to actually want to beat her up at this point, I thoroughly encourage all GMs to bring her back in and let her come to life a little, especially given she's in much more relaxed (for her) environment than the Cornucopia. She also has excellent knowledge of the various gladiators, and having her be "talked into" giving the PCs tips on the coming fights is a good way to both help them through an otherwise (hopefully) challenging gauntlet and also show her in a sympathetic light.

    Séance with Ghaelfin: I'd suggest being 'flexible' with how the candles work, and instead play out Ghaelfin lamenting the fate of the city and his love, Coriana, and then also give a bit more background into both the lodge and the last mission of the Amber Privateers. He's a perfect chance to give the PCs some of the background info for the adventure path, and I heartily suggest taking the opportunity to do so. He should also be able to speak about any secret rooms or traps that the original pathfinders put in place in Delvehaven.

    Part 3 - Massacre House:

    .... I wound up adding both more monks, and greater variety among them, turning the crematorium into a more than a single encounter, but instead a significant day's work. I also moved it into Crua (why would a crematorium be operating in Cader? It's a prison-wasteland that 99% of people can't get into or out of), and as such awarded 1 Fame Point for uncovering and destroying the cult.

    Seriously though, things are often put in Rego Cader which read like they're intended to be in the slums - at which point Crua is a better choice. Cader is the prison-wasteland district, not the slums.

    Séance with Coriana: Like Ghaelfin, I'd recommend using Coriana to get across background information on both Delvehaven (i.e. what is coming up), but also on the events in the Adventure Background. She was good friends with both Bisby and Sivanshin, and knew of their falling out - use her voice to tell the tale of the downfall of these former heroes. Additionally, she also knows the password to the forbiddance in the lower levels of Delvehaven - which the PCs will absolutely need (if you're using my suggestions for the place).

    Part 4 - The Wave Door:

    I removed the shadows from the outside (pointless if the PCs go during the day), and instead had the corpse of Loremaster Liriam inside the Wave Door... along with his Wraith (slap on the Advanced template if you're worried he'll be too easy). This then allows for a séance with Liriam who can provide detailed information about the traps and wards within Delvehaven's lower reaches.

    I also included a few things, such as a dozen sets of keys to Delvehaven (once belonging to the original Pathfinders), which not only open many of the locks, but the ring itself grants the bearer immunity to the permanent guards and wards that envelops most of Delvehaven's lower levels.

    Part 5 - Delvehaven:

    Personally, I wasn't sold on the original premise of the Delvehaven scenario (I've explained it enough already, earlier), and while I amended it a bit when I ran the thing, if/when I run Council of Thieves again I will likely take the changes quite a ways further. So here's my head-cannon version of events.

    ALTERNATE PREMISE: Delvehaven was Sivanshin's home for years before his eventual parting with Bisby (see "To McGuffin or Not to McGuffin" for some suggestions there), and when he returned to Westcrown, one of his first orders of business was to secure the premises and turn it into a haven for his shadowy and vampiric minions - out of sight of even Dargentu Vheed - where he could build his strength in secret. Although his minions could not penetrate the wards placed in the lower levels by Coriana, Liriam and the Thrunish Pathfinders, he has no desire to enter the place himself - he can sense the presence of Morrowfall (or his phylactery, if going with the non-artefact option) and does not want to risk exposure to it, lest it affect his currently unique nature.

    The upper levels of the facility were once a combination of lodging, dining halls, libraries, lounges, trophy rooms, museums and similar luxuries for pathfinders both visiting and resident. Now, these vaunted halls are the domain of the dead - the vampires Jair, the Mazeflesh Man and Vahnwynne Malkistra make their abode within these darkened halls, and under their command are a small army of lesser vampires, vampire spawn, shadows and shadow beasts. Meanwhile, the chambers beneath still possess some of the Thrune wards, and past those the tortured spirit of Donatalus Bisby has corrupted the old wards of the Lodge and twisted them into something far, far more deadly. The PCs face not one challenge, but two: The forces of shadow in the upper levels, and the wards of the long-dead pathfinders below.

    Extended Explanation: Ultimately, ending the shadow curse is a Big Deal, it's one of the main motivations behind the adventure beginning, it's the motivation behind book 2 and it's the reason the PCs are at Delvehaven.

    Arguably What Lies in Dust does that, but it does so (in my opinion) incidentally while focusing on the Pathfinders who are, frankly, not actually important to the narrative. So instead, I'd propose the upper facility be Sivanshin's original lair (he had to stay somewhere before he started working for the Council of Thieves) for the first few years and modified to suit, and he left only after discovering that he (alone) had been growing weaker while within the place. His minions, however, weren't affected by the place and he left some of his more powerful vampire lieutenants to both guard the place, bolster the ranks of the shadow army and oversee their activities in the Parego Sacero. The upper sections of Delvehaven are then focused on fighting the shadow curse, while showing the history and legacy of the pathfinders in the background - which to me is the appropriate order of priority.

    The lower reaches of Delvehaven then focus on the origins of the shadow curse and deal with the pathfinders directly involved and the events contemporary to the fall of Aroden, because they relate directly to how to put an end to Sivanshin and the shadow curse (either with Morrowfall or by destroying his phylactery). The goal being to cram all the neat bits of history, haunts and Bisby/Sivanshin related things into a more concentrated form, and let the "fight the shadow curse" agenda carry the upstairs section of the dungeon.

    TALKING DEAD & TALKING HEAD: Between the three séances which give information on the lower levels, and Khazrae's recounting of what Thrune Pathfinders did, the PCs should have some idea of what they're facing in terms of traps and wards - so feel free to drop a ton of hints for those. What they have no intel on, however, is what Sivanshin's undead have been up to - so those... those get to be nice fun surprises.

    DEMENSE OF SHADOW: The two sprawling above-ground floors of Delvehaven (or more, if you completely redraw the thing like I did) and highest of the underground levels are the home of Sivanshin's vampires and their collective shadow army. Rather than a ruin, the Lodge was renovated by Sivanshin in his early years here, using a combination of his generous pay from the Mayor and the his own shadowy abilities:

    • The windows are suffused with essence of darkness, drawn from the shadow plane, and filter light to not only prevent the harmful effects of sunlight, but conceal the interior from those without - even stopping light sources from within shining out.
    • The inner garden has a glass ceiling built over it, similarly suffused with shadow to allow even vampire spawn or shadows to walk amid the lush gardens at midday.
    • The floors are covered in luxurious carpets of midnight purple and black, and kept immaculate by bound shadowy servants
    • The outer walls prevent all sound from leaving the premises - no matter how loud a scream, no victim of the vampires have been able to draw attention, even as citizens walk calmly past the gates.
    • The along the walls hang tapestries, masterpiece paintings, opulent furniture and silver brackets from which hang continual flame lanterns.
    • The dining hall has been turned into a ball room, where shadowy figures play classical music on demand, and silver-and-glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling, affixed with continual flame candles.
    • The libraries have been cleaned, and their contents lovingly maintained and preserved, with expansions added to cope with the additional volumes gathered by the vampires within.
    • All the above ground locks have been changed - the vampires have their own keys, but the original Pathfinder keys are of little use in the upper sections.

    It is within this gothic paradise that the southern section of the shadow army lairs by day, though the vampires keep most of the "lesser beasts" in the more utilitarian sections of the lodge, which have largely become dedicated to that purpose

    In addition to the decor, I'd suggest removing most of the traps, and instead making good use of vampire and shadow related creatures. Given that the PCs should be 6th level coming into Delvehaven (adjust accordingly if you're running a fast progression - I actually added enough content to have the PCs levelling 3 times per book, rather than twice), I'd recommend the following:

    • Add another level onto Jair, the Mazeflesh Man and Vahnwynne to take them to CR8
    • Add another 1-3 (to taste) 5th level Vampire cohorts. I'd suggest at least a rogue for Jair.
    • Add liberal smatterings of vampire spawn, generally not in rags.
    • Remove the Shadow Triceratops, as it's broken as hell (compare against Bestiary 1 target numbers and you'll see what I mean), and spoils the flavour.
    • Season with shadows
    • Serve on a bed of Shadow Creature and Nightmare Creature "shadow beasts".
    • Enjoy!

    Also: I encourage you to have Sivanshin use a modified "mastermind" power to actually speak through his minions, allowing you to introduce the mastermind behind the shadow curse without having him show up and force a confrontation before the PCs are ready for it.

    WHAT LIES IN DUST: The cellar and basement levels are completely filled with a permanent guards and wards, but the enchanted key rings of the Pathfinders grants the bearer immunity to such. Furthermore, Coriana placed a CL15 empowered and maximized forbiddance throughout the lower levels, starting at the bottom of the stairs, keyed to CG (54 or 108 damage) and with the pass-phrase of "Four empty flagons and a fifth full" (a reference to herself, Bisby, Ghaelfin and Liriam, but Sivanshin being absent).

    Note: This is a brutal amount of damage, but the PCs should not only know the password, but be told where to speak it - ultimately the forbiddance isn't intended to kill PCs but be a plot device to ensure that the vampires and Thrune pathfinders could not get into the lower levels, as not only is the damage absurdly high, but forbiddance cannot be dispelled except by a caster of at least the same level as the one who cast it.

    Within the lower levels, Bisby's tormented spirit has infected and adjusted the old wards, and created entirely new ones - the haunts and similar effects mentioned in the module. Furthermore, the soulbound dolls should also be here, though feel free to make them a little more dangerous if you feel the need.

    The Amber Arca then, rather than guarded by the vampires, is guarded by Bisby's tormented spirit (making that encounter mandatory, rather than optional). Within is the Morrowfall (or Sivanshin's phylactery, if going with that suggestion), and thus the key to defeating Sivanshin and ending the shadow curse.

    FAME: For defeating a branch of the shadow army, and ending the haunt that had long pervaded through into nearby buildings, the PCs gain 2 Fame Points.

    DELVEHAVEN & THE DEED: The deeds for Delvehaven aren't mentioned in the published adventure, and by default I think the expectation is that the PCs walk away and leave the place empty. But, especially with the suggestions above, they may not want to. As a suggestion: Include the deeds to Delvehaven in the Amber Arca (in durable scroll case), and allow the PCs to find them, at which point what they do with the place depends on them - In theory Ailyn Ghontasavos could be interested in having it remain property of the Pathfinders legally, but that is largely useless as not only can the society not do anything with it, but Thrune doesn't actually recognize their ownership.

    If the PCs then want to "loot Delvehaven" in it's entirety and use it as a base of operations (especially after they defeat Sivanshin)... frankly, that's perfectly okay, and affects only one encounter in Book 6, which is easy to adjust to suit. Indeed, if they've been actively building up the Children of Westcrown as an organization, I'd actually recommend going this route as it gives them more room for their organization to grow.

    ARTEFACT vs. CURSE: In the "To McGuffin or Not to McGuffin" I wrote a little on my thoughts on Morrowfall and Totemrix and offered alternative abilities for the two artefacts, or a means of getting rid of the artefacts altogether. Of course, your game is your game and entirely your prerogative as the GM to do as you like, but I'd recommend having a look.


    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    BOOK 4 - MOTHER OF FLIES
    Review

    Crunch:

    Levels: 9-11 (normally, which I've compared against)
    Target: 320,000xp; 144,000gp wealth
    Actual: 400,000xp (125% of target, varies); 1,044,356gp (total) / 618,231gp (sale, 430% target)

    Comments: Okay, the XP is hard to judge and varies a lot depending on what the PCs do - if you go the "easy route" to victory in the siege by completing the optionals and killing as few of the besiegers as possible, you'll be about on target. If they indulge in the desire to rain fireballs upon an army of lowbie creatures and just kill the bug and redcaps, they'll wind up with the above. All told.. it basically works, XP wise.

    So how's the loot.... OH SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THINGS HOLY! Okay, some can (and should) be handed back for fame - 75,000gp in fact - which reduces the wealth gain to a 'mere' 403% of target (assuming they sell all of it to buy different magic items, which is the least efficient use possible)... but that is still a grotesque amount of wealth. Having more of the thieves run away in the siege encounter can reduce it a bunch, though it might be easier to just replace their +1 armour with studded leather and accept that the 1 point of AC really, really doesn't matter.

    I'd strongly suggest ditching a few things:

    • All Thieves: Reduce 300gp on their person to 50gp, replace +1 studded leather with studded leather.
    • From Walcourt's Treasury: philosopher's stone, +2 ghost touch chainmail, sword of the planes, carpet of flying
    • Sivanshin: boots of teleportation (not only expensive, but also slightly ridiculous that he'd fight to the death and not ever use them).

    Otherwise the PCs will be merrily packing between 300% and 500% of recommended WBL, which is fun, but will make encounters a lot easier that they should be for the rest of the AP (normally only one book, but if it's run as the 4th book you'll need to tone back a lot of loot).

    Commentary:

    The Mother of Flies is brilliant... and yet I found it extremely difficult to use. It's off-beat, it's clever, it's creative - all hallmarks of Greg Vaughan's work - but... for us it just wound up feeling like the wrong flavour of brilliant. It felt like a masterfully crafted square peg for my campaign's round hole - I loved it, but just couldn't use it as-written.

    The above probably demands some explanation (though feel free to skip ahead if so desired, there's a lot of this post), so I'll try to explain.

    The Stranger and the Stonewall: As the 5th book, the NPC cast is reasonably established and the PCs have spent four entire books as part of the Children of Westcrown and working with the NPCs to fight for a better future. They also got, early in Book 4, the identity of those behind the recent turmoil in the city, and as 9th (normally) level characters have access to spells such as divination, commune, locate creature, scrying and Chammady in particular has (according to Book 6) no defences against divinations.

    Instead, we find the PCs meeting a completely new NPC in the form of a "tried and true member" of their organization, and going to meet a contact who winds up being dead, with an entire page dedicated to trying to explain how there is no way the PCs could get information out of him... but forgets about the existence of the grave candle from Book 3 which the PCs probably have some spare ones of, and if not, could likely buy more (they're cheap). I'd at least like to have been given a hint on what Goren knew.

    This is all a premise on which to force the PCs to give up any line of investigation they're on to instead go into the Hagwood and see the Mother of Flies. It's a stonewall built on a foundation of quicksand.

    Change in Tone: The PCs to date have been established as being heroes - liberating allies without killing hellknights or dottari (hopefully, as they're punished if they do), defeating bandits, saving the city and so on and so forth - including fighting a pit fiend by default. Now they head to the dusk market to get information from a pesh dealer, then ally with a psychotic and murderous fey and save one of the chief villains of the adventure path (the hag and architect of Eccardian's birth). The PCs can refuse and try to blunder their way through on their own, but a huge portion of the book (and XP) is dedicated to the Hagwood scenario, which requires the PCs to either:

    • Ally with the architect of evil against the product of evil, or;
    • Betray the hag and attack her and feel like complete jerks. Noting the hag is CR14, the PCs will have just fought off a small army and not had a chance to rest or level, and her spell selection is loaded with save-or-suck spells with high DCs.

    And let's not talk about playing the "slime" game with the gremlins.

    I appreciate the desire for morally grey choices (e.g. Ashes at Dawn) and dabbling in the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" trope, but setting this immediately after the PCs defeated an infernal duke of Hell, and their fame is at an all time high, doesn't feel like the right time.

    Walcourt: The Council of Thieves, as established in Bastards of Erebus, is a blend of the Mafia and the Iluminati - it's considered a myth by most people, and focuses on "gentlemanly" crime organized by a cartel consisting mostly of nobles and other rich and powerful individuals. Petty crime (mugging, cutpurses, robbery) is kept minimal within Westcrown and the Council - if it dabbles in such at all - does so via puppet gangs who don't know who they're working for. SPECTRE from James Bond is another reasonable parallel.

    Walcourt, unfortunately, is a stock fantasy "Thieves' Guild", complete with death-trap gauntlets for new recruits, awkward entrances, hat-switching games and obscure passwords.

    Now, some people love their tropes, and probably were thrilled to see all of this... but it isn't what the Council of Thieves were established to be in Book 1, and for some groups (especially mine) the narrative inconsistency is a massive deal-breaker.

    Suicidal Villains: As written, Sivanshin will fight to destruction against the PCs, and the Mother of Flies will eventually be dragged from her tree and killed by the Council army. Sivanshin has boots of teleportation. The mother of flies has invisibility at-will, as well as fly, dimension door, teleport and shadow walk, and when fighting the PCs will teleport away if badly wounded - but not from the Council Army?

    Okay, the above turned into a bit of a rant. My point being thus (TL;DR): The Mother of Flies is an excellent adventure, but it felt (to us) like it wasn't actually part of the same adventure path.

    Recommendations

    Before we begin...:

    In this write-up, I'm using (and strongly recommending) that Mother of Flies be the fourth book in the adventure path, switching places with Infernal Syndrome. Obviously, this means there will likely need to be adjustment to a lot of encounters, but given that Mother of Flies focuses on large numbers of low CR creatures (mostly) you should find it relatively easy to simply tone back the numbers to suit the lower level party.

    Furthermore, I'm going to make recommendations for the stock "War for the Hagwood" scenario (though the Hagwood needs to be much further away), as well as propose an entirely different scenario as an alternative, where the Mother of Flies actually dwells in the sewers beneath Westcrown, making her a far, far more pervasive threat and one tied to the city.

    Part 0 - More Heroics:

    Again, the More Heroics concept is one I love, both for giving the PCs a chance for XP, Fame, loot and greater interaction with the city. Here I'll pitch three that I ran, which tie into books 5 and 6, which can fit almost anywhere over the course of the book.

    STRONGARM LABOUR: Gellius Baradin is the manager of Baradin's Forgeworks, and has had a lot of the staff working overtime (including Ermolos) on a "Priority Order", which wouldn't be unusual in and of itself, except he, uncharacteristically, has yet to pay them for the overtime, with varied excuses to date, while also being clearly upset. In truth, his wife (Quinta) and three children (Pavo, Aula and Rulla) have been kidnapped, and being held to ransom - the excess weapons and armour being produced being payment for his family's eventual return. This is a two-part mini-adventure, as the PCs investigate Gellius' behaviour, ambush the kidnappers during a night-time exchange and finally mount a rescue operation for the remaining family.

    Location: Baradin Forgeworks; Scripa Docks
    Hooks: Ermolos is the primary hook here, though if the PCs have gotten to know Gellius beforehand, they may well sense something is wrong on their own.

    Strange Behaviour: Gellius is acting suspiciously, and is being both tight-lipped and solitary of late, all of which is decidedly unlike the garrulous smith. The first part of this adventure is either confronting Gellius to get the truth of the matter out of him (NG male human fighter 2 / expert 6) or sneaking into his office, where in his distress he has failed to conceal his recent activities - not only do the records show that no payments nor official order has been made, but he has the ransom note demanding weapons and armour. Either way, this points the PCs towards a meeting that night at the docks behind the Forgeworks, where the kidnappers are due to return one of his family in exchange for the manufactured goods.

    The Midnight Exchange: At midnight that night, the kidnappers are due to arrive with one of the hostages and hand them over in exchange for the first shipment of arms and armour - enough for almost 100 soldiers, including no less than four sets of plate. A long rowboat arrives at the appointed hour, with eight people on board, including Gellius' younger daughter, Rulla, though the leader of the group will hold her hostage while his six minions load up the ship (he doesn't have a knife to her throat or anything, he just has hold of her bound arms to keep her from running). The ship is clearly not of Wiscrani manufacture, and bears markings of it's origins - the ship White Raven. Furthermore, although the crew are in "disguise", they all bear papers associated with the Bannerdock Mercenary Company (they're not expecting to be captured, so have requisite papers to satisfy a dottari inspection, as well as coin for bribes).

    ENCOUNTER (CR6): This encounter is intended to be comparatively easy, as the challenge is getting the hostage out safely.

    • (CR 4) Bannerdock Officer: NE male human fighter 5
    • (CR 1/2) Bannerdock Marines: NE male human warrior 2 (6)
      Loot: NPC Gear

    The White Raven: Whether some of the surviving marines give up the location of their ship, or a Knowledge (local) check allows the PCs to recall the arrival of a ship a few weeks back, the next step is to travel to the docks on the western shore of Rego Scripa, where the White Raven lies.

    The Raven is a mercenary sailing ship from Kintargo, with a reinforced hull, oars fitted for river traffic and a number of siege weapons mounted; 2 ballista fore and aft (on deck) while a further 8 ballista are concealed below decks (4 a side, mounted with the arms vertically) and fire via disguised weapons hatches. While only requiring a crew of 20, there are some forty Bannerdock mercenaries aboard (see Encounter), as well as a stockpile of assorted cargo and supplies, and the remaining three hostages, who are locked in the brig near the bottom of the ship.

    ENCOUNTER (CR12): Generally most of the mercenaries aren't on duty at any time, but keep a watch of 1 officer and 8 Marines. The rest will rally if awoken.

    • (CR 7) Captain Ratarion: LE male human sorcerer 8
    • (CR 5) Mate Wincoster: CE male human barbarian 6
    • (CR 4) Bannerdock Officer: NE male human fighter 5 (4)
    • (CR 1/2) Bannerdock Marines: NE male human warrior 2 (34)
    • Loot: NPC Gear (give Ratarion heroic level gear and stats), writ of ownership of the White Raven (the ship was purchased under duress - AKA charm person - by Ratarion. It's a simple act to amend the document to claim the ship for themselves).
    • Asset: The White Raven - if so desired, they can take the ship.
    • Asset: Baradin Forgeworks as an allied facility, will provide perks.
    • Fame: +1 Fame Point for rescuing the hostages.

    NIGHTMARISH STABLES: When Sian infiltrated the Asmodean Knot, what wasn't apparent at the time was that she was also hunting for a means of infiltrating the Nessian Spiral directly - and she found it. Having dropped a 'beacon' for Eccardian's Well of Many Worlds into the knot, the siblings now have direct access to the Knot, and through it, into the Nessian Spiral itself - specifically to the Chamber of Blood (my creation). They've been extracting Liebdaga's blood and putting it to use in a variety of projects (I was inspired by the Hell Dogs from Bastards of Erebus), one of which involves creating "Hell Horses" or Nightmares.

    House Davian fled Cheliax near the end of the civil war, escaping destruction at Thrune's hands only barely, and their Vira has stood largely abandoned since... until recently that is. Nestled in the Turanian Hills, it is remote enough to be easily overlooked, but close enough to Westcrown for convenience, and it is here that the Drovenge siblings have taken their equine purchases, where the steeds are fed a diet rich in the blood of Liebdaga, and attendants watch over them - caring for those that survive and feeding those that don't to the dogs they're trying to turn into Hell Hounds.

    There are currently 80 horses within the stables that have recently started on the blood diet, a dozen horses that are in the process of dying painfully from the failed transformation, and thirty dogs that have not yet transformed. All of these animals are sickened and won't fight unless cornered... however the staff and transformed beasts will.

    Location: Vira Davian (15 miles southwest of Westcrown, in the Turanian Hills)
    Hooks: Gorvio has recently found himself out of his day job - his alcoholic uncle sold up all his stock at a great price and has closed the stable and retired. So enraptured by the money, he didn't even bother asking the buyers name - though Gorvio's subsequent investigations have yielded numerous tales of horses being bought in mass and taken out through the western gate. Feeling something is amiss, and with a lot more time on his hands, he goes in search of the PCs to help.

    ENCOUNTER (CR12): Unless the PCs announce their presence, they won't all be in one group.

    • (CR 5) Nightmare Trainer: NE tiefling ranger 6 (2)
    • (CR 5) Nightmare (Int 6), see Bestiary 1 (4)
    • (CR 3) Hell Hound, see Bestiary 1 (5)
    • (CR 1/2) Hell Dogs: See Riding Dog, Bestiary 1 (9)
    • (CR 1/2) Stable Hands: NE human expert 2 (16)
    • Loot: NPC gear, horses, dogs.
    • Asset: Vira Davian
    • Fame: +1 Fame Point for eliminating the Nightmare Ranch and the flow of Hell Hounds and similar beasts into Westcrown.
    • NB: Given these are not true nightmares or hell hounds, but merely transformed animals, it may be possible to 'cure' them, however it should be difficult and require forces as potent as what transformed them in the first place. Should the PCs make the effort and come up with something appropriately dramatic, feel free to reward them accordingly.

    MISSING WORKERS: People are going missing in Crua, and while most won't notice - or have the contacts to see something done about it - Rizzardo does. I ran this as a very short mission, involving a stake-out of the Crua docks at the Bruised Eel (with hijinks) followed by stopping a shipment and tracing it down to a small pier by a sewer outlet into the Dhaenflow - not far from the Qatada Nessudidia. The extent to which you link the abductions to the temple of Asmodeus is up to you, but this ties into my version of Book 6. In any case, stopping the people smuggling nets +1 Fame.

    Part 1 - A Mother Scorned:

    Recommendation No. 1: Ditch Jarvis. Yes, I know he has half a page of box-text dialogue and about a page worth of write-up and stats, but unless the PCs have categorically refused to "join" the Children of Westcrown (despite it being the starting premise of Book 1) and have had minimal contact with them, he's an impostor. A stranger masquerading as an old friend. A character who Does Not Belong. Use someone else, anyone but Jarvis.

    A New Contact: I ran with a number of key changes to the scenario, and I'd put this version forward as an alternative to the published Part 1. First, have one of Arael's contacts (I used "Honest Ron" because my players loved him. And hated him. And loved to hate him.) deliver news that someone wants to make contact with the Children of Westcrown, and has important information they wish to trade. The new contact will be at the Dusk Market, and will make themselves known after the PCs (as that's who Arael will want to go) go to Red Sara's (she has a write-up in the Cader section) and ask for the "Sunset Special" - her personal services. The dusk market is in the location nominated in the published module, however, the PCs will go into the old customs house, meet Red Sara, and eventually be taken to back exit from the custom's house into the alley (per the published map), and told to enter the building opposite before Red Sara takes her leave of the PCs (said building being the 'private rooms' for Red Sara's operation rather than a pesh den).

    From here on, the ambush plays out almost as written, except for three things:

    • The contact isn't dead, merely unconscious as while Red Sara ratted on him to a Council contact for a nice fee, Eccardian doesn't know who it is, and would like to interrogate them before doing anything else.
    • The contact isn't Goren One-Ear the pesh dealer, but Goren Xerysis (LN male human aristocrat 4 / fighter 4), Vassindio's lieutenant and head of the minor noble house Xerysis, which is beholden to Drovenge.
    • There is no redcap intervention. I simply removed Dog's Tongue altogether (he's fun to play, but didn't fit in our story).

    Goren had grew suspicious of the "Devil on a leash" that is Sivanshin and after some detective work and a lot of bribes, managed to uncover that the vampire had betrayed the Council and was working for splinter faction within the Council of Thieves that appeared to be staging a coup. Unfortunately, when he went to deliver the news to his liege lord, he found Vassindio missing.

    Fearing the worst he went into hiding, and out of desperation is contacting the Children of Westcrown, and when rescued, will give information about Sivanshin's existence (and be surprised they already know) and his involvement in some kind of campaign - not just against the city, but against the last of the hags - the Mother of Flies. This can be either in the Hagwood (as published) or in the sewers (per the Alternative Part 2). He also knows the following:

    • He knows Eccardian is a tiefling, but not the circumstances of his birth, nor what became of the mother or house staff. He assisted with the clean up, but Vassindio claimed it was assassins from a rival trying to "send a message", and that's how he'll explain it.
    • He took part in the original assault against the Flies and was at the fore when two of the hags were killed, so he's familiar both with their location, the surrounding region and their abilities. He can also provide a simple map.
    • He knows that a splinter group exists within the Council of Thieves who are trying to gain power and usurp the current Council, and that Sivanshin is allied with them - he believes it unlikely that the splinter group could get past Vassindio's guards and steal him away so, and thus believes if Sivanshin could be found, Vassindio would be with him... hopefully alive.
    • He knows that a number of puppet gangs have been smuggled into the region and have joined in on this crusade against the last hag... but doesn't know why they want her dead, nor why Vassindio lead such an expensive campaign against the last two. He suspects the truth of such motives are known only to Vassindio and the Mother of Flies.
    • He is utterly loyal to Vassindio Drovenge, and believes the Council are the last bastion of law and order within this city, and that without them it would collapse into anarchy, depression and famine. In his mind, only the Council keep Westcrown alive, despite Thrune's best efforts. He is contacting the Children of Westcrown because he knows he cannot trust anyone in the Council at this point, and his top priority is in finding his liege and recovering him alive, if at all possible.
    • He knows of the existence of Walcourt as a hidden Council facility, but not that Sivanshin's primary lair is in the basement, as Sivanshin only moved in recently after siding with the siblings. Previously Sivanshin laired in a small vaneo in Rego Laina.

    What the PCs do with Goren is up to them. If they let him go, he will take his family into hiding, then return to continue his search for Vassindio, and efforts to uncover the traitors within the Council. The PCs can also stop by the old lair in Rego Laina, and kill off some more vampires and shadow beasts, however it's mostly empty - the bulk of the shadow army are either in Walcourt or off hunting the hag.

    FAME: If Lord Xerysis is permitted to leave (i.e. the PCs don't kill him out of hand) alive and unmolested, award the PCs 1 Fame Point.

    NB: One of the main reasons I made this change was to introduce the original Council as an entity within the story, as while villainous, they're not current the antagonists of the story, but still deserve some screen time.

    Part 2 (Published) - War in the Hagwood:

    Note: My commentary here is based on not including Dog's Tongue nor the "work with the hag" method that is the default in the published adventure. If you do want to use that angle, a lot of the following will still work.

    First off, the Hagwood needs to be much, much further away. Several days travel further away. The reasoning is simple: The hags have been there for centuries, and thus during the period when Westcrown was the capital of one of the greatest empires in the region. That the hags might have crept in recently is believable, but having them that close during Westcrown's prime? Unthinkable. I'd put the Hagwood in a valley in the Halikarnassos Hills, 30-60 miles east of Westcrown, and surrounded by abandoned farmsteads. It also helps to make the Hagwood significantly larger, unless you'd prefer to keep it quick and simple.

    As the goal here is not to "save" the hag, but to thwart Sivanshin and the Usurper's forces and find out three things:

    • Where is Sivanshin (and Vassindio, but mostly that's Goren's concern).
    • Who is leading the Usurpers.
    • Why is silencing the Mother of Flies so important to them.

    To that end, I made the following alterations:

    EXPERIENCE: The published AP is a bit of a mess, in that you are generally better off ignoring all the side missions and bombing the council army with spells. Instead of that, I'd suggest the following: Determine what the XP is for the siege (I'd suggest about 50% of the XP value of army, depending on how you adjust their numbers), and have it be granted when they win, along with the story bonus. Side missions then grant bonus XP, thus, the PCs are rewarded for thinking rather than brute forcing it. That and it makes the fight against the hag a lot easier if they have allies.

    COUNCIL ARMY: First off, I added about a heap of cannon fodder CR 1/3 bandits, with minimal gear for the casters to feel good about blowing up (given that most of the army are rogues -_-). They do the menial labour, while the vaguely competent thugs do the fighting. I also swapped out all the dark creepers for shadow beasts (of which there are normally none) and dark stalkers for vampires, given that the forest is unnaturally dark, they can operate 24-7 if they so desire (which is usually not the case, and they rest during the day).

    MADJAW: I made Madjaw the potential ally, rather than his minions. He's big, he's surly, he's lazy as hell and I gave him a heft beer belly. He doesn't demand a one-on-one fight to the death but will sling insults to try and annoy the PCs into a brawl, and either when he's taken below half or 3 rounds pass, (he's lazy, combat is tiring and he can't be bothered fighting them if it'll take a while) he'll stop and concede to the idea of working together to take down the "uppity hag". At which point, he and his redcaps will join in the fray. Award Bonus XP as if they defeated Madjaw in combat.

    DEATHGORGER: I scrapped it.

    BLIGHTHIDE: The forlorn elf ranger Rhathomir (CG male elf ranger 5 - favoured enemy Undead +4, Evil Outsiders +2) was born and grew up in Deng before it's destruction, taking refuge in Remisiana, and after the rise of Thrune quit civilization altogether to roam the wilderness and culling the monsters that the anarchy in Cheliax allowed to flourish. His confrontation with the Mother of Flies eight years ago... did not go so well, however rather than simply kill the attractive elf, she attempted to entice him to help her spawn more hideous daughters to replace those Vassindio killed. His refusal was lengthy, profound, inspired and at times waxed poetic. For the insult she cursed him, changing him into the form of a massive bear whose festering skin bore a swarm of countless biting flies and maggots that attack him mercilessly should he attempt to attack her or leave the Hagwood.

    His form is hideous, but powerful. While he's cursed, use an Advanced Dire Bear with DR 5/cold iron and with an aura of flies that deal 2d6 swarm damage to any creature adjacent to him. He cannot speak, but will attempt to communicate, even though the constantly-biting flies make this difficult. A remove curse DC21 will lift the curse and return him to his true form - albeit decidedly naked - which he will be extremely grateful for.

    During the Council Patrol encounter, he joins in (or starts the fight), focusing on destroying the undead and shadow beasts first, and defeating their allies. If the PCs join in fighting the Council forces, Blighthide will give them the benefit of the doubt and not attack them unless they attack first, but would prefer to flee than fight to the death. Once the fight is over, he will attempt to crudely intimate that he is intelligent, and depending on what the PCs say, may well lead them to Madjaw and Blackwillow (see below). If asked, he will gladly join in the battle against the Council army. If Blighthide is cured of his curse, award the PCs XP as if they defeated a CR9 creature, and if equipped he will help them in the fight against the hag (and is a possible recruit).

    BLACKWILLOW: In the grove of the former Maggot Tree, amid the charred remains of its massive boughs new trees grow, straight and free of the twisted corruption of the forest. This is the work of Blackwillow, the last treant of the Hagwood (N fleshwarped treant). A twisted, blackened mass of cankers and withered bark, Blackwillow is horrific to look upon, and worse to attempt to converse with - centuries of futile battle against the hags have seen this mighty treant fall to melancholy and depression, and breaking him out of his self pity enough to lend assistance is difficult to say the least.

    I ran this as a roleplay encounter, but if you want to put a Diplomacy or Intimidate DC on it, I'd suggest reasonably high, but allow PCs to assist. If the PCs do manage to get Blackwillow's aid, award them XP as if they had defeated him in combat.

    THE SIEGE OF THE TREE: This can function almost as published, except for adjustments to CR and numbers (to suit the lower level PCs) and creature types if you're swapping out the Dark Folk. I'd also suggest toning back on the thieves' gear, predetermining what is here as loot and having beasts to draw the wagons by the baggage train.

    • Recruiting Madjaw and his Redcaps give 12 battle points
    • Recruiting Blackwillow gives 8 battle points
    • Recruiting Blighthide as the bear gives 8 battle points. Curing Rhathomir of his curse and recruiting him instead gives 4 Battle Points.
    • Extinguishing bonfires does nothing except make the fight with the hag harder, as the bugs attack everyone.

    When the PCs break the siege, award them 1 Fame Point for their victory over the Council Army.

    THE MOTHER OF FLIES: Rather than be an ally, the Mother of Flies is a being of supernatural and insidious evil that has no desire to bend to anyone's will. As the Council Army are routed, she'll gather her remaining forces and attack the PCs and their allies, noting that if not cured of the curse, Blighthide cannot fight her or her minions and is forced to withdraw.

    I strongly recommend rebuilding the Mother of Flies as a Blight Druid (Advanced Player's Guide) and winding back her levels till she hits APL+4 or APL+5, depending on how potent your PCs are. Avoid loading her up on too many save-or-suck spells, and under no circumstances give her escape spells - the whole point is that she couldn't get away from the invading army, thus, she shouldn't have an easy means of escape from the PCs.

    When she gets low on hit points (the published module suggests 40, but that might be too narrow a band, depending on your PCs), she'll surrender and beg for her life, offering up tribute, and best of all, exposition. At this point feel free to give the PCs the full lay down on Eccardian, Sivanshin, Mammon and the whole crazy shebang. She's been watching her enemies, the Council of Thieves and the Drovenge family in particular, for over twenty years and has a lot of insight into their activities - such as the fact that it is the Drovenge siblings who are leading the coup against the old Council, in accordance with Eccardian's infernal mandate to rule. She also knows exactly where Sidonai's copy of the contract is - in the bowels of Walcourt, a secret Council guildhall and repository of dangerous goods and even more dangerous people, for their lairs the lord of shadow: Ilnerik Sivanshin.

    NB: While there's a dozen ways for her to spy on Westcrown, I'd suggest that the scroll case have a hag eye from her old coven still attached to it, allowing her to watch through it, even though she's now alone and cannot create more. Thus, she has noticed Sivanshin's presence in Walcourt.

    Feel free to hand out the "gift" suggested in the published adventure path, and then the PCs are free to do with her as they see fit - though if they permit her to stay within the Hagwood they will end any friendship with Madjaw, Blighthide or Blackwillow - though if cured Rhathomir will be merely displeased instead of furious. If the PCs kill or banish the hag from the Hagwood, it will satisfy their allies and grant the PCs 2 Fame Points for finally ridding Westcrown of the terror of the Flies.

    CONCLUSION: At this point the PCs should have gained a bunch of exposition, the identity of the villains orchestrating the recent chaos and the location of both Sivanshin and the infernal contract with Mammon. And a pile of XP and treasure, which hopefully they have some wagons and horses (or ox) to drag it home in.

    Part 2 (Alternate) - Mistress of the Depths:

    As you might have gathered, I ran the modified Hagwood scenario in my game, at the end of which my wife asked why, if I wound up modifying it to such an extent, I didn't put the hag in the Westcrown sewers, as that would have been no additional work, but much easier to tie into the story and feel more in keeping with the city-centric vibe of the game.

    And after staring at her for a while, I answered truthfully: Because I hadn't thought of that. So full credit for this next bit goes to my wife, though I am totally stealing it when I (eventually) run Council of Thieves again.

    This scenario involves the coven of hags residing in an underground grotto somewhere beneath the sewers of Rego Cader, whose fungal gardens and filth-lined walls now harbour the last of the hags and her pestilent brood. The Flies have (in this version) been part of the city so long they are almost a myth to the common folk of Westcrown, featuring in many a fishwife's tale or nursery rhyme. Such cautionary stories have grains of truth in them - for deep beneath the ancient city a hag does dwell, who is not above leading children of the poor and destitute into her lair with trails of sweets, nor men to their doom with guile and illusion.

    Rather than the Hagwood, the PCs instead enter the prison-city of Rego Cader and the most tangled warren of Westcrown's sewers, descending past ancient tunnels into the stinking caverns of the Flies. All manner of vermin lurk within the depths (requiring some adjustment to the hag's allies - I recommend the fungal creature template to broaden the palette a little), while the Council Army itself changes as well: Gone are the ogres and giants, and instead replaced with shadow beasts and vampires - though I'd still ditch the dark folk, personally.

    Similar to the Hagwood, there are three sections to this part of the adventure: Finding the Grotto, Breaking the Siege and lastly fighting the hag.

    Finding the Grotto: The first part involves exploring Rego Cader and the Dospera sewers, following the various trails of the Council Army as they combed through the sewers, and potentially making allies along the way, with some options being:

    • Blighthide: (see the Hagwood for more details) Only rather than a bear, she chose an animal more suited to sewers, or even a goblin.
    • Sewer goblins: Jinkoo (see book 6) is a strange goblin, but may not be unique - it's possible that some of the goblins of rego Cader could be convinced (or bulled) into allying with the Children of Westcrown to drive the Council and hag from their sewers...
    • The Last Stand Inn: A respite from the anarchy of Cader, the tiefling Vaxelle has maintained the Last Stand for decades, and while she and her guards normally avoid the sewers, many of her patrons don't. Winning over the innkeep to their cause could well see a small army of Cader natives joining in to end both the new menace, and an ancient one.

    Note on the Last Stand: Vaxelle and the Last Stand are there because I wanted to showcase the other aspect of Cader - it may be a dumping ground for criminals and degenerates, but it is also home to a (small) and desperate population who were unfortunate enough to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time. I like contrasts, and while the Bastards of Erebus showed off some of the worst (but only some) of Cader, I wanted to take a moment to show that there's more to the district than meets the eye, and not all within are a complete lost cause.

    Siege of the Maggot Hive: The grotto of the Flies would lack the maggot tree, but instead be a large cavern at the heart of a tangle of tunnels, dominated by a colossal mass of fungi and insect larvae that hangs from the roof in the centre, and those who approach her hideous sanctuary risk attack by the dozens of giant (huge) maggots that reside within - cursed to endlessly grow, but never pupate. The Council is trying to weaken the hag by flooding the chamber with toxic gasses and smoke, however it is slow going. From here on, the battle can be mostly played out the same as the Hagwood above.

    The Mother of Flies: Other than potentially changing her into a sea hag instead of a green hag... I'd still suggest a high level blight druid (Advanced Players Guide) with enough levels to put her around APL+4 to +5 - as with all things you need to take into account the degree of optimization of your PCs when putting together something you want to be challenging, as there is a profound difference in power levels that is achievable within the Pathfinder rule set (albeit less so than 3.5, in my experience).

    Conclusion: As with the Hagwood, the PCs should wind up with XP, loot, between 1 and 3 Fame Points, and above all a lot of exposition, and be ready to take the fight to Sivanshin at Walcourt with renewed focus and even greater purpose.

    Part 3 - Hidden Ways of Walcourt:

    I... Tore this place down and rebuilt it from the ground up, to be honest. There are a lot of neat ideas within, but they just weren't the right ideas for my game. In the interests of sharing, here's my version.

    LOCATION: I put it back in Rego Crua (which as published had only one minor event in it the ENTIRE adventure path - the stables in book 1), because it made more sense to me that it be there (being an almshouse in Mother of Flies), and I didn't see any real narrative drive to having it be relocated to the island - I haven't searched through the old threads to find out whether this was a typo or deliberate retcon. Either way, back to Rego Crua it goes.

    SURROUNDS: I removed the garden, garden wall and sinkhole and instead made it a looming old temple (It was a "centre of worship" for followers of Founder Cruciscal, see Bastards of Erebus, pg57) with numerous smaller buildings nestled up against it, built after Aroden's fall and Walcourt being abandoned. Protected by Imperial law from demolition, Walcourt is technically property of the church of Iomadae, but their efforts to use the building ended abruptly, and it is now generally considered haunted - and looks it.

    One of the adjacent buildings is Morelli Mercantile - a grocer and curio store offering all kinds of deals, who serves as a money launderer for some of the Councils' smaller operations - and also serves as a discrete entrance into Walcourts upper levels. Morelli's "extended family" are mostly Council agents and employees, though the actual staff of the store are his kin. This also allows the staff residing within to have fresh cooked meals brought in, laundry done and so on, by the staff next door, who (other than Morelli) are unknowingly on the Council payroll.

    GROUND FLOOR: The ground floor is mostly a ruin, filled with barricades, debris and unpleasant traps disguised as natural hazards. This is the camouflage that keeps most at bay. The primary chapel of Founder Cruciscal and priestly chambers nearby lie abandoned and strewn with debris, while toxic moulds, serrated metal and broken glass have been arranged to ensure that would-be explorers meet a series of unpleasant - and potentially lethal - "accidents". Ultimately, other than the blockaded stairwell going between the upper levels and the cellars, the ground floor is dedicated to being the camouflage for the Council operations here.

    • The one exception to this is a recent addition - the body of Vassindio Drovenge is splayed over the altar of Cruciscal. He has been ritually sacrificed to Mammon to ensure his soul is unobtainable.

    UPPER FLOORS: Contrasting heavily with the ground floor, the upper floors are clean, well lit and relatively comfortable, though the bricked over windows gives the space a musty and stale air. These floors (my Walcourt was 3 storeys tall) mostly dedicating to providing living and work space for a team of accountants, clerks, smugglers and security personnel who reside within Walcourt, which acts as a hub for numerous smuggling operations. The Drovenge siblings recently staged a coup within this facility, eliminating those who showed too much loyalty to the Council, and between that and the war against the hag, the facility is decidedly understaffed. Of note within the facility are:

    • Manus Undiomede (CR 8; NE male human unchained rogue 9): The Nightmaster of the facility, he was quick to switch sides and helped eliminate the more traditional Daymaster. Now the undisputed master of the upper levels, he spends much of his time enjoying the luxuries his betrayal bought him, and engaged in a "secret" affair with Venna Morelli (N female human commoner 2) - granddaughter of the adjacent storekeeper.
    • Arandor the Forger (CR7; NE male human bard 8): The master of accounts, he leads a force of a half-dozen clerks who catalogue and record the transactions and write the reports to their overlords within the Council itself. He is also a master forger, and his office includes copies of virtually all the seal and signatures of people of note within Westcrown.
    • Oldran the Quartermaster (CR6; N old male human wizard 7): The poisonmaster, artisan, trapsmith and general "utility guy" for the facility, as Sandor rarely stoops to such menial work. He's worked there for over forty years, mostly because he needed a job at the time and it pays well, though he rarely gets involved in anything actually villainous, and mostly just makes sure everything works and the lads are stocked. He's been saving up for a while now for his retirement - he's thinking of Taldor, or possibly Magnimar - somewhere quaint and far, far away.
    • Sandor the Strange (CR11; CE male human diviner 12): He's largely usable as-is. The PCs should easily be 8th level when they face him and while a dangerous encounter, he should be manageable. I had him residing within the old belltower, separate from the other Council agents for both his privacy and gameplay reasons, and had him replace the top of the belltower with a permanent illusion, and put a massive telescope where the bell was.

    Also within the upper floors are a wealth of records on criminal activity, which net [b]1 Fame Point if taken to the dottari or hellknights, as well as detailed maps of the sewers, including the smuggling tunnels leading to the lower levels (but no maps of lower Walcourt, for security reasons).

    LOWER LEVELS: Walcourt originally possessed only a small columbarium (a place where ashes are stored) and a sewer access tunnel to permit maintenance of the sewage powered pumps that moved rainwater from various collection tanks into the roof-top storage vessel. When the Council took over, they expanding the lower levels dramatically and modified the sewer tunnels nearby with magic, creating several smuggling tunnels that remain free of sewage and a private dock.

    Those descending into the lower levels will pass through the old crypt, and soon come to an a secret dock in a large cistern flooded with sea water - one passage is high above the waterline and leads west, towards the city walls, while another is almost completely submerged and heads east towards the docks, though only usable at low tide. Otherwise there are several (mostly empty) storage chambers where smuggled goods could be stored before being moved on.

    The true extent of the lower levels are concealed by secret doors (DC30), and give way to a series of death-traps, secret passages, prison cells, dangerous guardians (typically constructs or undead) and finally to the vault itself. It is within these passages that Sivanshin and his remaining shadowbeasts lair, and he and his vampire harem have transformed them from a mere security measure into a darkly gothic abode, with all the trappings of home. Within this twisted labyrinth are the following:

    • Ilnerik Sivanshin (Normally CR15 CE male half-elf vampire bard 7 / rogue 3 / pathfinder chronicler 3... But I'd encourage GMs to make their own Sivanshin to their tastes).
    • Asad Grulios (Prisoner): Head of House Grulios, his family has no ties to the Council of Thieves, and as the most powerful such family, are the most likely to try and step into the power vacuum within the city once the old pecking order is shattered. He is imprisoned, along with his youngest son Haran (dead from exposure after being drained to 1 Con).
    • Kalder Grulios (Dominated): Asad's eldest son, Kalder has no magical ability of his own, and... sadly little willpower against mental influence as well. He and the family's retinue of knights are currently dominated and serving Sivanshin as guards.
    • Rhialana Grulios (Vampire): Sivanshin not only killed Asad's wife, but turned the exotic Keleshite woman into a vampire - the newest addition to his harem, though he keeps her by his side for the time being. (By default I made her a 10th level wizard, though you should feel free to change that to suit your tastes and your party).
    • Lucele Grulios (Prisoner): Lucele is Asad's daughter, and Sivanshin is keeping her alive as a hostage, and will start flooding the pit she is chained in with water as the PCs enter his abode.

    Vampire Harem: Additionally, Sivanshin has "Collected" a number of notable, powerful and universally beautiful women over the decades and formed something of a vampiric harem - he considers their state to be preserving them at their prime and saving them from the merciless cruelty of time. The exact number can vary as you see fit, but here are some suggestions (all are vampires):

    • Silana (NE female Ulfen human vampire sorcerer 8, knows stone shape instead of greater invisibility): The first of his concubines, she came with him from Nidal and serves as both assistant and mistress of the harem.
    • Korva Mironeth: See "Recruits"
    • Adula Starnon: See "Recruits"
    • Pavanna Ambusta (LE, Formerly LN female Chelaxian human vampire oracle 5): Mistress and advisor to a Thrune lord, she was abducted and turned 19 years ago during a visit to Westcrown.
    • Meriyana (NE female Tian human vampire rogue 5): Daughter to a past ambassador from Tian-xia, she was turned 17 years ago.
    • Tamarie (NE, formerly N female half-elf vampire sorcerer 5): A retainer and secret bastard of House Ici, she unfortunately caught Sivanshin's attention 14 years ago at a masked ball, from which she mysteriously vanished.
    • Izora (NE, formerly N female Keleshite human vampire rogue 5): An ambassador from Katapesh, she vanished shortly after arriving in Westcrown 13 years ago, causing a massive political debacle between the two nations.
    • Thelona (NE, formerly NG female Garundi human vampire ex-cleric of Sarenrae 5): One of the last acolytes of the temple of Sarenrae prior to it's complete destruction by Sivanshin 30 years ago.
    • Liada (CE, formerly CG female half-elf vampire bard 5): A notable scholar and archaelogist specialized in Mwangi, she came to Westcrown to give a presentation at the Vendajen University 11 years ago - but vanished the night before.
    • Jayasi (LE, formerly LG female Vudran human monk 5): One of the star performers of a travelling vudrani carnival that passed through Westcrown 6 years ago, she vanished one evening between performances.

    NB: The PCs should really, really want to kill Sivanshin, because it makes the deed so much more satisfying, thus, I tend to throw a lot of fuel on that fire :P

    Sivanshin's Abode: Rather than have Sivanshin hang out in a tiny chapel to Norgorber, he has made the very treasury itself his abode. After all, why reside beside such wealth, if you can't enjoy it? He's had Silana cast stone shape scores of times to turn this once-bland treasury into a gothic hall, with raised throne, polished stone tables, prisoner pits and display stands for the many treasures stored within. He even had her organize the various "top secret" documents by subject and author in an archive of his design.

    Treasure: I'd suggest slashing into the published treasure list brutally and fearlessly as there is way, way, WAY too much, and it unfortunately is the wrong kind of treasure for the more gentlemanly Council of Thieves I (at least) was aiming for. They don't have mountains of stolen treasures, because the leaders are already stinking rich and half are nobles anyway. Instead, the treasury would have a mix of powerful magic items they want to store securely for when they're needed, cursed magic items, dangerous information (e.g. infernal contracts), and valuables that they've smuggled in (or extorted) but can't trade freely without drawing suspicion, so store for a time before moving on in small quantities: chests of coins from Taldor that were minted for trade, stolen by pirates, traded to the Council and now in a cooling off period before they move them on; rare animal hides and horns, smuggled in bulk but released to the market slowly to keep prices high, and so on. In addition to what Sivanshin brought with him, anyway.

    FAME:

    • Award 1 Fame Point for rescuing Lord Grulios
    • Award 1 Fame Point for saving Lord Grulios' living family (Kalder and Lucele)
    • Award 1 Fame Point for exposing the Council's documents
    • Award 1 Fame Point for handing over stolen goods and contraband
    • Award 3 Fame Points for defeating Sivanshin
    • Should the PCs do so, award 1 Fame Point for raising/resurrecting Haran and Rhialana, and an additional 1 Fame Point should they resurrect at least 2 of the vampire harem.

    CONCLUSION: The goal of this adventure (in my opinion) should be taking down Sivanshin and ending the shadow curse first and foremost. The contract is then the lead in to the Bigger Bad Evil Guy (so to speak) of the adventure - Eccardian.


    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    BOOK 5 - INFERNAL SYNDROME
    Review

    Crunch:

    Levels: 7-9 (normally, which I've compared against)
    Target: 160,000xp; 90,000gp wealth
    Actual: 228,800xp (143% of target with side quests); 428,907gp (total) / 243,274gp (sale, 270% target)

    Comments: Except to make up for the dearth of XP in Book 3, the optional XP in the side quests is really not needed, especially if you wish to expand on Book 4 by adding some "Extra Heroics" style encounters.

    The wealth... god there's a lot of loot in this book. Even assuming the PCs just sell it and don't use any items (the least efficient gain possible), they're still walking out with more than double their expected WBL. The saving grace is that some of this stuff is actually quite hard to find, so requires some extra effort by the PCs to do so... but I'd suggest toning back a few items, such as the rod of splendour, +1 axiomatic mithral longsword and reducing the monty haul from the bag of holding type IV and the 31,700gp of cash it contains.

    Commentary:

    I like dramatic introductions. Call me a fan of them, even. Edge of Anarchy? Loved it. So when I opened up Infernal Syndrome and read the opening section, it had me hooked: Explosions, chaos, devils in the streets, city in flames and in need of heroes. Awesome stuff indeed.

    This is both a compliment and a criticism - I was hooked by the starting premise, and the overwhelming potential for the street-heroism that the Children of Westcrown were born to do... but then the adventure dives into a dungeon for the overwhelming majority of it (okay, technically the ruins on top of the dungeon aren't part of the dungeon... but close enough). To the authors' credit, they do give some hints about what kinds of events are happening in the streets and how to get involved, but the grand thrust of the adventure is the super dungeon of the Nessian Spiral.

    So how is the Nessian Spiral? Thematically it's pretty good, with a lot of variety and some interesting ideas. Mechanically it's... well it struggles now and then but is mostly challenging and fun. The map though? It... it needed to be more than a single page, and while I appreciate that it's called the Nessian Spiral, it could have been spiraling down rather than inward, as it ends up creating an enormous map filled with 5ft corridoors (which make for boring fights) and a clunky attemp to 'spiral in' in the center. It's an ambitious project, but it tripped over itself a little bit in the dungeon layout, in my opinion.

    On that note: Joriavah. I appreciate that she's got greater teleport (self +50lbs of objects) at-will, and is near the exit to the surface, but her apparent ability to lead charmed victims (she can't fly or teleport with them) through the streets, past the siege and council agents and into her lair is... a bit of a stretch, in my opinion.

    But fighting Liebdaga the Infernal Duke is going to be epic, right? Well... not quite as published. The authors erred on the side of caution and made him one of the least challenging fights in the entire book. Poor guy needs a bit of a pick me up before the PCs get to him.

    Recommendations

    Before we begin....:

    Other than to adjust encounters to suit the PCs being higher level (assuming you run this as the 5th book) and giving poor Liebdaga a bit more oomph... Infernal Syndrome is actually pretty good, and most groups will have a blast running it as written.

    Nothing (except Joriavah) is particulary problematic about the Spiral itself and it really doesn't need fixing - I just had something else in mind when I was running it so did a bit of a rewrite of the Siege and Spiral (because I'm apparently a masochist). I'll give the explaination of how I ran it, but in this regard it really is just a "how I did it", rather than a recommendation (since it's a fair amount of work to do the rewrite).

    The exception to the above is the Streets Gone Mad section, as I honestly believe the scenario demands more street-heroism from the PCs and heartily encourage other GMs to try and run a few events before getting the PCs into the Spiral itself. Noting that I moved a few things around (such as Joriavah) to do so.

    Part 1 - Streets Gone Mad:

    I wound up running a number of Streets Gone Mad events (some based on bits from the Spiral or Siege) before the PCs were able to reach the epicenter of the destruction and deal with the Siege. They each give a Fame Point.

    CROSAEL AND THE CONTRACT: Rather than having Aberian simply turn up at the beginning and hand the PCs the contract, I had the PCs have to hunt it down.

    In my version, the PCs had won over Crosael as an ally and informant following the Cornucopia and captured Sian alive and turned her over to the dottari - though to their annoyance she was broken out. Crosael caught Sian as she infiltrated the manor and broke into the safe, and when the thief fled with the contract, she gave pursuit and called the PCs for help with sending. This lead to a night-time street chase (including a rooftops section I blatantly ripped from Edge of Anarchy) before Sian was finally cornered, with the PCs recovering the contract right as Aberian's Folly exploded nearby.

    Assuming your game doesn't deviate quite as far from the expected course of events as mine, and Sian is thus dead and Crosael a turncoat, one way to run this scenario is to use Crosael instead of Sian, and as the safehouse is wonderfully close to Aberian's Folly, have the PCs see her moving north away from the rising mushroom cloud as they head south towards it. She's clearly clutching some form of scroll tube to her chest as she goes, and if she sees the PCs (especially if they're in Children of Westcrown disguises) she'll immediately flee as her nerve breaks - she's only recently joined the Council of Thieves as a willing ally and is hardly a hardened criminal, plus the explosive destruction of Aberian's Folly (where she was moments ago, stealing the contract) has her rattled.

    In any case, a chase through darkened streets and over rooftops with the eventual culmination in gaining the contract is worth 1 Fame Point.

    TIEFLING OUTBREAK: Scores of tieflings laboured away within the Spiral to try and keep it operational, despite the extreme negligence of Aberian, and many of them have taken the opportunity to break free of the Spiral and rampage through the streets, revelling in their freedom and seeking vengence upon the city that bound them for so long. They should be raiding homes, attack those drawn into the streets by the sight of the explosion and generally being murderous dispicable wretches - until the PCs stop them, that is, and doing so grants 1 Fame Point.

    CATCHING ABERIAN ARVANXI: Rather than wandering lost and in search of heroes, Aberian could decide that now is, in fact, an excellent time to retire from his position as Mayor and go somewhere far, far away, where a certain infernal duke isn't as likely to kill him. Naturally, however, he needs a retirement fund. The PCs could run into him on their travels, or Crosael could have told them (as either a friend or an enemy) of Aberian's cowardice.

    This scenario has Aberian having looted a sizable chunk of the city treasury (i.e. city funds he is authorized to manage on behalf of Thrune, not Aberian's personal wealth) and is attempting to flee the city, loaded with bags and sacks, pursued by devils, looters and tieflings and leaving a trail of gold and silver coins from numerous holes in the sacks caused by attacks (the coin saving his life a few times). Aberian is terrified and running on adrenaline, and isn't likely to stop for anyone - least of all would-be heroes seeking to rescue both him and the treasury he's trying to steal. Give him some muleback cords and a bag of holding or two as well as mundane sacks to thoroughly load him up. It should be a DC10 to track him by the scattered coins and howls of his other pursuers... the challenge is getting to him first and keeping him alive long enough to hand him over to the dottari (he will bribe his way out later, but won't be able to steal the city funds).

    Catching Aberian and handing him over to the dottari gives 1 Fame Point. Killing Aberian causes the PCs to lose 5 Fame Points, and stealing the treasury for themselves causes the PCs to lose 5 Fame Points (these penalties stack).

    STOPPING THE HARVESTER: This is me making using of Isavenda to go and gather captives for Nyxervex's ritual, which she is quite happily doing. Given the PCs should be 9th level coming into this book, you'll want to add about 4-5 PC class levels to her to make her a decent solo challenge (putting her at CR11 to 12 against 9th level PCs) - I'd suggest fighter or ranger. In essence, she's flying around the streets snatching people and flying off with them to ruins of Aberian's Folly, and as such the PCs can encounter her at any time.

    Stopping the capture of Wiscrani citizens (destined to be burned alive in a diabolic ritual) earns the PCs 1 Fame Point.

    CAPTIVE NOBLES: When the siblings broke into the Nessian Spiral via the Asmodean Knot, they unwittingly broke something out: Dargentu Vheed's former mistress, the succubus Joriavah. Stat-wise, I'd suggest using the ability scores from the Infernal Syndrome rather than a base succubus and adding on another 4 cleric levels, giving her Charm and Trickery domains (for invisibility) and raising her dominate person to 3/day. An alternative is to instead swap her Cleric levels for Bard.

    Note: Given that all planar travel was blocked before the destruction of Aberian's Folly, it is odd that the tieflings managed to call in Joriavah (which would take planar ally, making Veladness the highest level cleric published in Westcrown or the AP... just dead), unless the intent is that she was only called after Aberian's Folly explodes, which... is worse, because it assumes the PCs will take days or even weeks to enter the Spiral for her writeup to work. Thus, I made her Dargentu Vheed's mistress whom he kept in the Spiral so she couldn't escape, and whom entertained herself with the tieflings.

    Having followed the Siblings out of the Nessian Spiral via the Asmodean Knot and well of many worlds, she's taken to enjoying herself while in Westcrown, robbing some noble manor houses for "nice things" and murdering a number of their sons and daughters. Growing (quickly) bored of random mayhem, she's chosen to take on a more ambitious project - the corruption of House Khollarix. Vira Khollarix (in my version) is in Rego Sacero, not too far from Aberian's Folly, and is a sprawling estate nestled against Aroden's Rise - built after the fall of the god of mankind and subsequent land-grab. Joriavah has used her charm monster ability on everyone within at this point, and frequently made use of dominate person and [/i]suggestion[/i] to push the noble family and staff to ever greater heights of depravity, closing the Vira off from the rest of the city while she experiments with just how far she can push Stengarin and his family to go.

    When Aberian's Folly explodes, almost the entire city reacts, except those at Vira Khollarix, whose dominated guards stare unconcerned at the rising explosion and calmly tell passers-by that the Vira is closed for a private family function and to come back another time. This behaviour, while innocuous before, is blatantly suspicious during the calamity and the PCs should soon hear of it.

    Note 2: I made this section decidedly unpleasant and not PG13. If you do want to use this and are concerned, feel free to tone it back a little. Or a lot.

    By the time the PCs arrive, only a dozen or so guards remain (Typically CR 1/2 to CR 3) guarding the estate, and fully half of the staff and family have been killed in some horrific manner. Lord Stengarin and most of his surviving family are broken shells of their former selves, revelling in a twisted, incestuous, cannablistic orgy within the dining hall, while most of the staff are either dominated into satisfying their needs or naked and tied into torturous but elaborate frames as "living art" to Joriavah's taste. Joriavah herself won't confront the PCs directly, but instead send dominated guards and degenerate nobles after them as she flits about the manor, until cornered upstairs when she goes to get "fresh playthings" from those she has captured, but not yet subjected to the full depth of her perversions (she only has so many dominates a day).

    In addition to the dozen corrupted cannibal nobles (whom require a greater restoration or wish to "cure", if one so desires), there are 39 survivors at the estate:

    • Jurian Khollarix (19, CG male human fighter 3): Youngest son of Lord Stengarin and current heir to the house, he was secretly courting Euphemi Tilernos (see below) and although he has been tortured extensively, he is one of the more collected of the imprisoned nobles (and one of the few members of his family vehemently opposed to their involvement with the Council of Thieves).
    • Euphemi Tilernos (18, NG female human aristocrat 2): Sascar and Kajen's daughter, she was staying at the vira as a guest and student of the Khollarix family, as Stengarin's legal accumen was renowned.... at least, that was the excuse. In truth, she was staying to spend more time with Jurian. She, like most of the imprisoned noblewomen, has had a shapechanged Joriavah force herself upon her, and is currently in the early stages of pregnancy with a demon-spawn tiefling child.
    • Sephanine Khollarix (18, N female human aristocrat 1): Shanwen's younger sister and Jurian's cousin, she has also been impregnated by Joriavah and is currently a weeping wreck, though will recover in time - especially if given pillberry in the near future.
    • Falaceitta Nymmis (21, LN female human aristocrat 4): Calseinica's cousin, she was studying with and working for Stengarin Khollarix (to whom her family are beholden). Stubborn and prideful, she has spent several days under the lash recently, and although also pregnant with a tiefling child, she remains bitterly determined to refuse to give the succubus the satisfaction of seeing her break.
    • Guards: 12 Guards remain (minus any casualties during the encounters), all of whom were charmed or dominated, and ashamed of their role in the nightmare that occured within the Vira.
    • Staff: Of the original forty staff that served in the VIra, only 16 remain, and half of whom will require magical healing to recover from being "display pieces".
    • Others: The seven others in the Vita were generally passersby who Joriavah took a liking two; two were in her boudoir with Jurian and company, with the other 5 'decorated' the manor house.

    Putting an end to Joriavah's game (by killing her or driving her off.. but preferably killing her - she really does need to die) and saving the captive Khollarix family earns the PCs 1 Fame Point and the gratitude of the surviving members of House Khollarix.

    WARMONGER AMONG US: As the PCs approach the pillars of fire, a secondary explosion and stench of sulphur will signal the arrival of a new threat - a Mighty (Genius Guide to Simple Monster Templates) Warmonger Devil (Book of the Damned: Princes of Darkness) (CR12) - though if the PCs are higher level, feel free to slap on Giant and/or Advanced templates. The Warmonger isn't here to enslave, it's here to enact Liebdaga's wrath on the city while the duke is still imprisoned, and halt any effort made to stop Liebdaga's escape. It's pretty much going to methodically kill everyone and everything in the area.

    Destroying the Warmonger saves countless lives and nets the PCs 1 Fame Point.

    Part 2 - Siege of the Folly:

    As mentioned earlier: There's nothing wrong with this section as-published and the fact that I'm suggesting an alternative isn't a criticism of the published module (which is quite good) but simply the fact that I felt like doing something different with it.

    PREMISE: I wanted a more dramatic entrance to the Nessian Spiral, as well as a chance to play with more of my pokemon... I mean NPCs. To that end I made it a more literal siege, with no less than seven factions locked in a stalemate within the area. The PCs role is then to investigate, negotiate with those able to be reasoned with and trying to get enough to cooperate to ensure the resulting clash (as approaching the Spiral entance will trigger a battle) isn't complete bedlam that would likely result in them getting mauled.

      SPIRAL DEFENDERS: Around the entrance itself are the Sentinel Golems (Junk Golem stats, but better looking and missing the disease), the automated defenders of the Spiral who are protecting the entrance against unauthorized access. They've taken some casualties, but there should still be a bunch of them - say a dozen.

      DOTTARI: Durotas Saria Roccin has lead a team of dottari up here to try and secure the area, but been stalled by the other forces in the area, including the uncooperative hellknights. She's here with three lieutenants (CR 3) and 15 dottari (CR 1/2). They've taken casualties (three dead dottari lie outside their position), and have dug in to fire at any devil or monster they see from cover, and warn off those who approach. Roccin will likely recognize the PCs (or the outfit, if in disguise) and seek to come to an arrangement.

      HELLKNIGHTS: Signifier Shanwen Khollarix (if he's alive - otherwise use someone else) is seeking to redeem himself and his armigers, and where the rest of the Hellknights were in Tanarik House, he was hosting his armigers in a nearby townhouse, and seeing the chance for glory, rushed to the ruins of Aberian's Folly. He and his men have been driven back by attacks from devils and constructs, but are too prideful to accept "assistance" from the dottari without some convincing. Despite previous encounters with Shanwen, here his duty is clear: The outbreak of devils must be stopped before the Infernal Duke breaks free.... and much to his frustation and shame, he will swallow his pride and work with the PCs. It's your call whether he roars a dramatic "Nooooooooo!" or not.

      LOYALISTS: A team of loyalist Council operatives are camped out in the ruins, and they are chiefly here to observe and capture the "Usurper" operatives nearby. Lead by the veteran assassin Bremin Dvostigani (CR10, LE male human fighter 1, rogue 7, assassin 3) the group consists of half-dozen agents (CR3). If approached, they'll consider a deal whereby they'll help the PCs get in, if the PCs help them capture the leader of the Usurper group that's nearby.

      USURPERS: The bulk of this group had already infiltrated the Nessian Spiral via the Asmodean Knot, however when the Knot collapsed those within were jettisoned out into the surrounding ruins. Lead by Aberten (CR10, NE male halfling sorcerer 8/harrower 3), they have regrouped and are seeking a way to get into the spiral and rejoin their fellows. With Aberten are four council "heavies" (CR3) as well as a dozen hired thugs (CR1). Aberten is most definitely not willing to die for the Council and will surrender if low on hitpoints or cornered alone (for a stealth PC party), and will instead broker for an alliance if the PCs are willing to defeat Bremin and his goons, and allow Aberton to flee - he'll even sweeten the deal if he has to with information on the Council activities.

      LIEBDAGA'S FAITHFUL: A group of devils lead by Nyxervex is also in the area, seeking to both stop any meddling mortals from entering the Spiral, and to gain access themselves so that they can help free their master. I'd suggest that Nyxervex have a few class levels to boost his CR to 11 and have a bunch of bearded devils with him (Say, 5).

      LAST OF THE SHADOWS: Jerusen (CR10 vampire rogue/assassin) is one of the last of Sivanshin's spawn, and commands the handful of remaining shadow beasts - a measly 4 shadow mastiffs and 12 shadowgarms. During the day, he will avoid contact, but at night he will join his minions in attacking - his goal is ultimately to break Liebdaga free and wreak bloody vengeance upon the city for the destruction of his master. Despite this, he will not ally with the devils, though they are not his preferred targets.

    How to handle the roleplay of the above is up to you - I personally go for more what is said than what is rolled for such things, hence I didn't include any Diplomacy DCs. But that's just me.

    EIGHT-FOLD FIGHT: Once the PCs are ready to kick the grand debacle off, they need only approach the golems - the devils and shadowbeast forces will surge to attack, and others will soon follow to capitalize on the distraction. Obviously, there's a lot of creatures involved and this battle could get very messy if the PCs haven't made alliances.

    FAME: If the PCs manage to break the siege of Aberian's Folly without killing any hellknights or dottari, award them 1 Fame Point. This goes for whether you go for the published adventure scenario or something completely different, generally speaking.

    Part 3 - Into the Spiral:

    Again, I make the comment that there's really nothing wrong with the published adventure... well, except for the 5-foot corridors and a map so large it made me want to cry at the thought of trying to draw it up. Anyway. Other than tweaking the map a bit (bigger corridoors, seperate the "inner coil" to be a separate level and tighten up the outter ring so it fits on a big battlemap, would be my suggestion) and boosting some CRs or numbers, it really does work as-is and will likely be a whole lot of fun.

    I just felt like doing something a little different, personally. For reference, I had the spiral be focused not on containing and entertaining the infernal duke, but on literally mining him for infernal substances. Each of the five pillars of flame corresponded to not-quite-overlapping levels of the spiral as it descended towards the containment cell itself, and each dedicated to a specific substance. Which was gross, but very memorable.

    THE INFERNAL DUKE: Liebdaga is more than a pit fiend - he's an infernal duke. By standard this means he had a breath of life ability to have a parting shot at the PCs... but I went with something more dramatic. I gave him a literal twin-soul and slapped something akin to the mythic ability to have two turns per round: He can take a second 'turn' at a -10 initiative penalty (i.e. +13 for one, and the next is 10 less than that). In addition, I raised his Con to 45 to bring his hitpoints up to 450 (and Con save to +29). Yes, this is grotesque, but I gave the PCs the tools to bring him down to size.

    LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS: There is the option of getting Liebdaga to leave, instead of levelling the city... it's a gamble, but it's one that I think should be made available - so I did (not that the players even contemplated it, but anyway). Instead of fighting him, PCs with the contract can instead parley and release him willingly - allowing him to return to hell without exacting vengeance. Doing so is... hard and extremely risky. By default, this will be a DC100 Diplomacy Check, with the PCs gaining bonuses and penalties as follows.

    • +20 for presenting Liebdaga's contract
    • +10 for each active extractor they shut down (There are 4 active extractors by default)
    • +20 if they killed Aberian (whom he despises)
    • -10 for activating an inactive extractor (by default only 1)
    • -20 per extractor they overload
    • +2 per PC that assists
    • +20 if one or more PCs is willing to consign their soul to Hell (and to him specifically) after their deaths (not that this is a good idea, just that it'll amuse him enough to make him more amenable).

    Obviously, deliberately shutting down the extractors and returning Liebdaga to full power is extremely risky, as it means they're talking with a fully armed and operational pit fiend and combat would be pretty much suicide. If the PCs succeed on the check, he'll give them a parting wish. If they fail by 10 or less, he'll simply leave, but make no promises about not returning later to enact his vengeance (An extra option for Continuing the Campaign). If they fail by 11 or more, he'll pretty much just try to kill them, fight his way free and destroy the city.

    INFERNAL MACHINERY: There are 5 devices within the Nessian Spiral dedicated to drawing out pieces of Liebdaga for exploitation, and manipulation of these devices allows one to adjust how the final confrontation goes. Each device has specific effects on Liebdaga, depending on whether it is active or overloaded - inactive devices do not modify his stats (which is a modified pit fiend in my version).

    • Blood Extractor: While active, the blood extractor reduces Liebdaga's hitpoints by 50, reduces his Strength by 10 points (-5 attack, damage, CMB and CMD). Overloading the extractor will also half all of his speeds and incur a -10 penalty to Fort and Reflex saves.
    • Bile Extractor: While active, the bile extractor reduces Liebdaga's hitpoints by 50, and suppresses his poison special ability and regeneration. Overloading the extractor will also eliminate his fear aura, prevents him from using any feats (including power attack) and gives him a -10 to all skill checks.
    • Spinal Fluid Extractor: While active, the spinal fluid extractor reduces Liebdaga's hitpoints by 50, and diminish his spellcasting, reducing his DCs by 4 and limiting his spells to 3/day; create undead; fireball (DC17); greater dispel magic; greater scrying (DC21); invisibility; persistent image (DC19); scorching ray; wall of fire; quickened fireball (DC17). Overloading the extractor reduces these to 1/day.
    • Flesh Extractor: While active, the flesh extractor reduces Liebdaga's hitpoints by 50, and reduces his natural armour by 5 and damage reduction to 5/good and silver. Overloading the extractor also disables his flight speed and wing attacks, and reduces his BAB by 5.
    • Phelgm Extractor: While active, the phlegm extractor reduces Liebdaga's hitpoints by 50, his Dexterity by 10 (-5 AC, Reflex Saves, CMD and Initiative) and reduces his spell resistance by 10 (to 21). Overloading the extractor disables his Bite attack.

    Obviously, having all of the Extractors operation makes it possible to beat Liebdaga, but it will still be brutal as his offensive capacity is still massive compared to anything else the PCs will face, partially due to him having two turns per round. The more extractors they overload, the more they cripple the duke until he is more manageable. Specifically, at his most nerfed he has:

    • AC28, 200hp, DR 5/good and silver, immunity to fire & poison, resist 10 acid and cold
    • Fort +19, Ref+6, Will+18
    • Speed 20ft, reach 10ft, BAB+15, CMB+24, CMD 38
    • 2 Claws +22 (2d8+8); tail slap +20 (2d8+4, plus grab) = assuming 2 full attacks, average 94
    • 1/day fireball (DC16), quickened [i]fireball (DC16), create undead, greater dispel magic, greater scrying, invisibility, persistent image (DC19), scorching ray (3 rays, +19), wall of fire

    That's scary, with defense sitting around the CR14 mark and offense closer to CR 18, but the PCs should be able to rest and buff before hand, letting them go in fully prepared to fight a pit fiend. Additionally I'd strongly advice having a bunch of potions and scrolls on the way through of helpful things like resist fire and such just to be sure.

    So to help even the odds a bit; A PC can attempt to hold the contract aloft as a move-action and command him to halt his attacks - making an opposed Charisma check with the duke with a +4 bonus (Liebdaga has a +8 modifier), granting him the staggered condition for his next turn if successful (I removed the Talisman of the Twin, you see).

    DUNGEONS: At the entrance to the spiral is a small complex dedicated to guarding the spiral from within and without and storing high profile prisoners. A council strike team got in before the Asmodean Knot went unstable, and is lead by Avahzi, the priestess of Mammon (CR12, Cleric 13). As they're currently trapped between rampaging tieflings and the now-active sentinel golem army outside, many of the Council agents have indulged in some of the 'distractions', while Avahzi herself animated those who had fallen in battle and set them to guard the complex.

    • Guardpost: 2 Enforcers (CR5) and 3 Reanimated Goons (Advanced Zombies, CR1)
    • Armoury: 5 Reanimated Goons (CR1)
    • Cellars of Distractions: 2 drugged Enforcers (CR4)
    • Rompos Room: Avahzi (CR12)
    • Torture Room: Jalki (CR5 were he armed, equipped and not at 0hp)

    CHAMBERS OF BLOOD: These chambers are dedicated to extracting blood from Liebdaga, and it was here that the siblings infiltrated via the Knot, where Eccardian initially awed the tieflings into subservience. With the destruction of Aberian's Folly, the tieflings (who sustain themselves by drinking Liebdaga's blood) have become infected with his rage and are virtually mindless at this point, turning on their Council "allies".

    The blood extraction device is still active, but many of the pipes and vessels have been ruptured, causing vast pools of it to ooze out over the floor and some globules seem to have taken a life of their own. Stepping in or being immersed in Liebdaga's blood causes 4d6 fire damage per round and infects the person with Devil Chills unless they make a DC18 Fort save.

    • There are 40 tiefling slaves in this room (CR2, warrior 4, minimal gear, but permanently affected by the rage and haste spells, and armed with claws or clubs)
    • There are also 8 blood oozes (CR7, Magma Ooze from Bestiary 2)

    Extractor: The Extractor is currently damaged but Active.

    • It takes 15 minutes and a DC20 Knowledge (arcana) or Spellcraft check to repair the extractor, which reduces all subsequent DCs by 5.
    • It is a DC25 Use Magic Device, Disable Device, Spellcraft or Knowledge (arcana) check to deactivate the Extractor.
    • It is a DC35 check (as above) to cause the device to overload. Failure by 5 or more causes the device to be shut down permanently and Inactive.

    CHAMBERS OF BILE These chambers are dedicated to extracting bile from Liebdaga, and are dark and filled with fibrous membranes of acidic slime and pools of acid (4d6 acid damage a round). Within these dark chambers is the twisted and bound marid, Shazathared (pretty sure I stole that name from somewhere, not sure where though) who was lured to the mortal plane decades ago by Dargentu with flattery, gifts and promises of wealth and luxury, then bound into slavery within the Spiral.

    Dargentu performed a number of experiments on his captive genie, including removing her eyes and tongue (though that was more to silence her decidedly venomous insults). She is a unique creature that basically functions akin to an advanced marid (DC10), except with the following changes:

    • Her alignment is currently CE, and she suffers from the Schizophrenia madness.
    • She is immune to acid damage, and her Water's Fury ability does acid damage.
    • She has blindsight 60ft, but is blind beyond that
    • She can grant up to 3 wishes to a non-genie, once per week.
    • She cannot leave the Chambers of Bile.

    Extractor: The Extractor is currently damaged and Inactive.

    • It takes 1 hour of work and a DC25 Knowledge (arcana) or Spellcraft check to repair the extractor, which reduces all subsequent DCs by 5.
    • It is a DC25 Use Magic Device, Disable Device, Spellcraft or Knowledge (arcana) check to activate the Extractor.
    • It is a DC35 check (as above) to cause the device to overload. Failure by 5 or more causes the device to be shut down permanently and Inactive.

    Freeing Shazathared: While it is very possible that the PCs will simply kill the bound genie, she can be freed, and one of the keys is her ability to grant wish[/i. If anyone wishes, intentionally or no, that she could speak, she will regain her tongue and power of speach, and can (and will) communicate. From here on, that character has two [i]wishes left from the genie, though she will generally bargain and argue for them to wish for her freedom first (though if they do, she will immediately leave and return to her home plane). Heal will restore her eyesight and cure her madness, but not restore her original alignment - but she will be grateful enough to grant one wish for the PCs, providing they swear to wish her free with their third wish.

    A truly altruistic group could wish Shazathared restored to her original form - which will not only cure her eyesight and remove decades of scar tissue, but return her to her original alignment. This would be something she is extremely grateful for, though not enough to sacrifice her last wish and freedom for... but she would offer to return at a later date to repay her gratitude - such as by giving the party full use of her three wishes in week's time. This might seem excessive, but ultimately I feel that such behaviour deserves to be rewarded. The PCs may try to cultivate a relationship and rapport with the marid - which is up to you if it is successful or not, but I'd suggest a good attempt could make a friend of the marid, but she won't give them any more wishes.

    CHAMBERS OF MIND: These chambers are dedicated to the extraction of Liebdaga's spinal fluid and to their application, with massive automated machines and numerous construct sentries. Within these chambers is the remains of Dargentu Vheed (CR13 lich), who died in an experiment gone awry, but exists on as a twisted wreck of his former self, bound forever to subside on the spinal fluid of a pit fiend.

    In addition to the lich, there are five Sentinel Golems (variant Junk golems) he has constructed, and numerous devices which pose dire threats to intruders:

    • Static Discharge: Massive conductors run through the chambers, and intruders who get too close are at risk of being blasted by an electrical discharge (Reflex DC15 or suffer 6d6 electricity damage, activates once per round at one target within 10ft of the conductor).
    • Agonized Screams: Reliquaries of the captive souls of sacrificed prisoners and enemies of the former mayor are placed throughout these chambers, as he uses their torment to fuel his experiments. Those who approach too closely (20ft) awaken the souls within, and must make a DC15 Will save or be confused and deafened for 1 round.
    • Mechanical Claw: The various animated machines within the chambers are soon ordered to attack, and once Vheed is engaged a claw will reach out once per round (until Vheed falls) to attack a PC (+15, 3d8+15 slashing and bludgeoning damage).

    Extractor: The Extractor is in perfect condition and Active.

    • It is a DC20 Use Magic Device, Disable Device, Spellcraft or Knowledge (arcana) check to activate the Extractor.
    • It is a DC30 check (as above) to cause the device to overload. Failure by 5 or more causes the device to be shut down permanently and Inactive.

    Additionally, within this chamber are the schematics for making the Sentinel Golems.

    CHAMBERS OF FLESH: These halls are dedicated to extracting Liebdaga's flesh in great, gory chunks, most of which is just piling up in vast heaps of slowly putrefying flesh. Within this rotting labyrinth of flesh and gristle, a dozen failed experiments lurch and feed - Hungry Flesh (Bestiary 4) with maximum growth points (CR5, gargantuan). Also within these chambers is a beast even the hungry flesh avoids the hulking form of a twisted Cerberi (Cerberi from Bestiary 3, with the Giant template applied four times to boost it to CR10 and colossal - noting it'll be a bit of glass cannon, so feel free to tone back it's Strength in favour of boosting it's Con for more HP).

    Extractor: The Extractor is currently damaged but Active.

    • It takes 15 minutes and a DC20 Knowledge (arcana) or Spellcraft check to repair the extractor, which reduces all subsequent DCs by 5.
    • It is a DC25 Use Magic Device, Disable Device, Spellcraft or Knowledge (arcana) check to deactivate the Extractor.
    • It is a DC35 check (as above) to cause the device to overload. Failure by 5 or more causes the device to be shut down permanently and Inactive.

    CHAMBERS OF PHELGM: These chambers are dedicated to the unpleasant task of extracting phlegm from Liebdaga, which although vile has it's purposes. Within these slime-laden halls, a single creature stands - an immobile giant stone golem (CR11, +1 for Giant, -1 for immobile) which directs the flow of phlegm and can launch phlegm oozes at intruders (Treat as gray ooze, CR4) if none are in range to strike with its massive fists.

    Extractor: The Extractor is in perfect condition and Active.

    • It is a DC20 Use Magic Device, Disable Device, Spellcraft or Knowledge (arcana) check to activate the Extractor.
    • It is a DC30 check (as above) to cause the device to overload. Failure by 5 or more causes the device to be shut down permanently and Inactive.

    CONTAINMENT CELL: Within a vast chamber deep below the streets of Westcrown lies the bound form of Liebdaga the Twin, his cage a massive sphere of iron and chains, now half-shattered as the duke struggles to break free. Five massive structures loom in the room, connected to tubes leading up through the ceiling to the chambers above.

    When the PCs enter this room, they weaken the last strands of the wards holding him enough to him to make his bid for freedom, and here they a round to enter, throw some spells down and get in position before the Duke breaks lose (No. No duke nukem quotes).

    Warning: I should reiterate again - my suggestion of the Duke is intended to be... well... hard. Even for a fully buffed party. It's also very possible that your players don't go for the degree of optimization mine do, and he may be too hard, at which point I'd suggest toning him down by simply ditching his second action a round - that alone is huge.

    Now, a mutilated Infernal Duke is a pretty big challenge.... but what if we instead made things a little more interesting? I had the room operate on Initiative 20 (a 5th edition idea) and generate a random effect from the following list:

      1) The Blood Pump sprays a 60ft line aimed at a random creature, dealing 8d6 fire damage to any creature caught within, Reflex DC15 for half.
      2) The Bile Pump sprays a 30ft cone of acid centered at a random creature, dealing 6d6 acid damage, Fort DC15 for half.
      3) The Spinal Pump discharges a psychically active mist, causing all creatures within 15ft of the pump to be confused for 1d4 rounds, Will DC15 negates.
      4) The Flesh Pump disgorges 1d4 Hungry Flesh, which attack nearby targets at random (including Liebdaga)
      5) The Phlegm Pump disgorges 1d3 Plegm Oozes (use grey ooze), which attack random nearby targets (including Liebdaga)
      6) The emergency suppression system kicks in, spraying blessed water throughout the chamber, dealing 10d6 untyped damage (Fort DC15 for half) to aberrations, oozes, undead and outsiders with the evil subtype, and heals all other creatures for a like amount.

    FAME: Defeating Liebdaga and saving Westcrown awards the PCs 3 Fame Points (or more, if you feel it is worth it). Convincing him to leave (by making the DC100 Diplomacy check) also gets the same Fame Points as the PCs still achieved the same goal.

    TREASURE: On one hand, the published adventure has some interesting stuff in it. On the other hand... it's my belief that treasure should always be adjusted to suit the party, to avoid the "Let's sell this off and buy things-that-more-efficiently-boost-my-numbers!" syndrome, as I find players are generally less inclined to sell off things that actually suit their characters unless their price tag grossly outweighs their usefulness (which is, sadly, common). Unless you're planning on taking Book 6 nice and slow though, now is a good time to get them geared up and at least on par with the WBL recommendations.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    BOOK 6 - TWICE-DAMNED PRINCE
    Review

    Crunch:

    Levels: 11-13
    Target: 640,000xp; 232,000gp wealth
    Actual: 558,000xp (87% of target) OR 689,400xp (108% target) with hard-mode.
    1,154,000gp (total) / 590,000gp (sale, 255%) OR 1,364,200gp (total) / 700,500gp (sale, 300%) hard-mode
    Comments: There are two ways to end this adventure path. The first is generally recommended by the authors and much, much easier, but won't get you to 13th level (at all) unless you also have some spare XP from previous books. The second is not recommended by the authors and is possibly a little overkill unless the PCs have invested a lot in defences - at which point they're rewarded with bonus XP and loot.

    As for loot... there's a lot, however, a lot is consumables (~10%) and a third of it is in the last 2-3 encounters as the encounter wraps up, so the overall impact on the AP isn't too great, though if you seek to continue the campaign you'll have some very, very rich PCs. If you tally up the total wealth from all the previous APs, they'll be between 305% and 550% of expected WBL.

    Compliments:

    This book had me positively giddy as I was going into it - it took the scenario that Infernal Syndrome promised and amped it up two notches, and not only that, but now was the time when all the deeds of the PCs, the Fame and allies they had accumulated, finally they now come to fruition and there is consequence of their actions.

    Oh. Hell. Yes.

    The very concept of having the fate of the city hinge not only on the PCs actions in the book, but how they conducted themselves across the bredth of the campaign is glorious, and precisely what I was hoping for. It gives a continuity and sense of achievement that is sometimes lacking, as well as the potential for the players to feel like their achievements and choices mattered.

    On top of all of this, it introduces the angle whereby the PCs can turn Chammady on her brother, turning an enemy into an ally, which although common in fantasy stories, rarely comes out on the table that I've noticed.

    Criticisms:

    It was the Twice-Damned Prince that inspired me to run the adventure path, and while I cannot sing the praises of it enough, I'll be the first to admit it isn't perfect and has its flaws.

    The criticism biggest for me (though this might just be me), is that there just wasn't enough to the encounters. There are a pile of different scenarios, and while most are great thematically, they fall short in terms of crunch - a handful of CR5 guys here, a CR11 devil there and so on. APL+0 and APL+1 encounters are fine if chained together, but the sandboxy nature of the book meant that the PCs were instead looking at isolated scenarios where, unless I forced them not to as the GM, they could pick and choose when they rested between. By the numbers, the book is just very light on XP, to the point where, unless the PCs do the end on "Hard mode", they won't hit 13th level even at the end unless they are well into 11th when they start the book, even if they do every scenario. Ultimately, I knew I was going to add to the module because there was no way anyone could squeeze everything I'd want out of the scenario into the page count of a module (it's just not possible), but I was a little dismayed at how light some of the encounters were.

    The second criticism is the Fame Points and final check. I won't repeat my commentary from earlier sections regarding this, but will mention that... it's a fantastic concept, but the implementation really didn't satisfy - especially given the difficulty of getting the highest result.

    Otherwise, there are a number of little niggling issues (for me, anyway)... and despite the length of the next bit, these aren't huge problems, but mostly just me quibbling.

    Kickoff: It lacks one. Compared to the explosive (literally) introduction of the Infernal Syndrome, the Twice-Damned Prince starts off a little weak and self-contradictory, in my opinion, as it describes that "all chaos erupts in the city" with fires, looting, hellknights and dottari at war... then when describing the first active part of the adventure, "Feud Among Nobles" it states that actually, it's just very tense but not yet exploding. It also explains that, somewhere and somehow, the Duxotar Iltus Mhartis was assassinated along with the heads of eight noble houses... but given this book is supposed to kick off immediately after the end of Book 5 (normally leaving Walcourt), one has to ask when this occured, and why the PCs weren't able to hear about it.

    Given that PCs could well be hellknight aspirants (or even fully fledged Hellknights by now) or have ties to the nobility, this is a big deal to simply gloss over, and either scenario would have made an excellent kickoff to the adventure.

    Timeline: On one hand, I appreciate the desire to give players greater choice in how they approach the adventure, but this is one which could also use a timeline to put the pressure on the PCs not to dally or be overly cautious with resting a lot.

    Thugs & Thieves: So each Council "Captain" is CR10 (with the next highest CR being 3...) and have feats and gear dedicated to ranged combat, but almost all of them are placed in melee-focused situtations? Ouch. On that note; 2 human slaying arrows each? The problem with giving them such specific 'tricks' is that the PCs will cotton on very fast, and given there are 5-6 encounters with them, it gets a little... predictable. The Council captains could have used less of them and more variety, and there really needed to be something between the CR10 Captain and CR3 Thief... it's a bit of a leap.

    A Feud Among Nobles: I found the premise of this a very tough one to sell. I can only assume it was written with the assumption that the PCs will be murderhobos with absolutely no political/noble ties whatsoever, since almost any noble family is of more actual use to the cause of trying to rally the nobility than either of these two. They're minor and decimated noble familes beholden to the now thoroughly disgraced House Arvanxi, which appears to be the reason they were chosen - because no matter how uncouth and unpleasant the PCs might be, they're desperate enough to see them. To me, the key to actually selling this scenario to the PCs was the fact that the family hold the key to rallying the fractured dottari - that is something that is easy to buy into and appreciate.

    Hellknight Siege: On one hand, the numbers actually make for a decent encounter - CR13! Cool. On the other hand... how many Hellknights are there? From the description in "Courting the Hellknights" it seemed there were a dozen loyalist hellknights (plus Chard) and 27 heretics (plus Ara) - which also raises the question of how the Heretics lost when they outnumbered the loyalists more than 2 to 1 - but then we get to the description of the siege with Chard + 3 hellknights inside, "several" dead (by convention, 4+) and then several more on patrol (4-5). That's.. maybe 8 hellknights plus Chard (who's CR8) at the end of the fight vs 27 (less casualties) heretics? How did Ara convert so many? Is she using mind-affecting magic? If so, surely some of the heretics are salvagable, because 8 hellknights really doesn't seem like it is capable of much compared to the 700-1300 dottari, superior levels or no.

    A Noble Lure: By default none of the nobles (according to "A Feud Among Nobles") except for Mhartis, Ciucci and Arvanxi have viras or vaneos on the mainland... except here we find Armon Rosala, who has likely had a bunch of his family assassinated in the last day or two, ferrying over to the Gargling Gargoyle along with some other equally inept and unarmed nobles for lunch. Every. Day. I'm... I'm going to stop right there, go get a beer and move right along now.

    Actor's Encore: He's in a tower in Rego Cader? Really? He hasn't taken over the Nightshade Theater for a triumphant return to the stage over the corpses of those impudent non-actor PCs who upstaged him there earlier? No? Well... that's how I'm running the scenario, anyway.

    The Heretic's Ghost: Wait... she did WHAT? But... She's got no... why?... ARGH! (breathes deeply) Okay, trying this again. The whole scenario here screams Sifkesh, not Mammon. Furthermore, other than to have another form of undead, there really isn't any reason why she would commit suicide to become a ghost, rather than continue living and command her heretic hellknights. Even from a metagame perspective, having Ara there, and maybe some Armigers (remember those guys?) would vary the mix a little when the PCs do tangle with the heretics.

    Hell's Defectors: No really, how did Ara convince 70% of the Hellknights to break their vows and join her coup, then fail to actually depose Chard? It was dominate person, right? She has 5/day with a 11 day duration, and she just dominated them all, right?

    Assassin's Pet: ... No. I'm not doing this to a villain I've spent 4 books building up. You can't make me.

    The Vacant Throne: We finally get to reveal Eccardian to the world, the architect of all that ails Westcrown of late and... no dialogue. Indeed, the only commentary about his personality is about his lack of free will, and that his nature was engineered by Mammon... Unfortunately this means that Eccardian isn't a tragic villain, or even an particularly effective one since not only is he a stranger, but the GM isn't given any tools to try and compensate and build him up even in the one scene he's in... thus we get threads on forums about how the Infernal Syndrome and Liebdaga should have been the end boss as it would have been more dramatic, even if it goes completely against the entire point of the adventure path's overarching story. A good villain needs build up and a strong character to really feel satisfying to defeat... and in this Eccardian winds up lacking, in my opinion.

    Contract vs Tears: There are two ways to go about the end of the adventure path. The first is the 'recommended' one and considered the more elegant of the two, whereby the PCs get Chammady onside and confront Eccardian, then before the grand plan comes to fruition, beat him to death before the armies arrive, which might get the PCs to 13th level if you're tracking XP. Maybe.

    Alternatively, the "hard mode" is for the PCs to be drawn into the battle after Eccardian stages his dramatic signal, and while tears of fire stream down the face of the dead god, the PCs fight through the two armies to confront Eccardian and take him down. This is considered the less elegant of the two, and GMs are encouraged to really lay on the PCs (though the armies will be almost entirely low level creatures at this point and thus fodder for AoE spells, so whether it is actually that dangerous or not is really dependant on the group).

    Call me a sucker for drama, but I want them both. The confrontation between Eccardian and Chammady is fantasic drama, but so is the entire set up of the Tears of Fire - it's epic and a worthy finale to the adventure path, whereas a 5-on-2 fight with a rogue/duelist and bearded devil cleric (who is lower CR but in all ways far more dangerous), is somewhat anticlimactic, in my opinion.

    On that note: How does adding seven cleric levels (and +3 Str, +3 Dex, +5 Wis and +2 Cha) to a CR 11 Barbed Devil only give +3 CR? I appreciate that the raw stats of AC, HP, Attack and Damage are close (though closer to CR15 in most counts), but add in all the abilities of a barbed devil (such as anyone who hits him with a non-reach weapon taking 1d8+8 damage per hit, SR22, DR10/good, spells etc) and this guy is a nasty piece of work, so unless the barbed devil is significantly higher CR than it should be, stacking the extra levels on really should be more than +3 CR, given it was an extra 80hp and +10 to attack alone. That said, I could just be a little miffed that he's intended to be the minion, but outshines Eccardian.


    Recommendations
    Before we begin...:

    I made a lot of changes to Book 6, the majority of which were there to expand upon the existing content and make broader use of Westcrown; to suit the overhaul of the Fame & Consequence system I did; and lastly to changed some things that bugged me, and other things to suit how our game had went.

    On the whole this book is good and can be run with only a couple of tweaks if so desired: Adjusting Fame & Consequence to make it actually commeasurate with PC effort and behaviours and then adjusting the encounter with Eccardian to make him actually challenging (as he isn't very, and if anyone has Improved Disarm he's toast). Though I would strongly advise GMs to read ahead and put together a bit of a timeline and plan to string adventure locations together - it doesn't have to be linear, but dumping the players into the middle of over a dozen options is both overwhelming and counterproductive, since you want to do Skarx's prison last out of the sandbox events as it leads directly to Chammady and the conclusion, and if the PCs do this early they will be (if you'll pardon the expression) screwed. Giving Chammady a periapt of proof against detect and location as well is also a good idea for the same reasons.

    Also: The death of the leaders of the Council and various nobles is something I ran on camera, but did so as the PCs had built up a rapport with Chammady, and she attempted to engage them to help "Put an end to the Council of Thieves" - which was naturally a setup they didn't go through, as Eccardian had tipped the Council off to the hit, ensuring that the Council retreated to a nearby safehouse and a bunch of assassins were waiting for the PCs if they did go through with it (but they didn't), and Eccardian then invaded the Council safehouse and slaughtered the lot.... but this scenario won't work with a lot of groups. It's up to you how they died, I just recommend having answers for when the PCs ask questions - especially if the PCs have any ties to said families.

    As a commentary on encounters: Most encounters in this book are APL+0 to APL+1. Standard adventures have encounters close together, so the typical tactic of PCs is to buff up and then go from one to another while their buffs count down. Afterwards, it's then a choice: Rebuff and go again or retreat and rest. In Twice-Damned Prince the encounters are very spread out, making it likely that PC buffs will expire before they get to the next encounter, which generally does one of two things:

    • PCs buff up going in "Just in Case", find the combat very easy, have their buffs expire afterwards and then rest a lot rather than risk going up against a tougher fight unprepared. In essence, they take more time but ultimately breeze through.
    • PCs go very light on buffs and try to hit multiple encounters within a single day, resulting in fights being more challenging. In essence, they get through the content in less in-universe time, but have a tougher time of it.

    Obviously, if there was a timeline or some form of pressure on the PCs to be speedy, the latter would be beneficial to the story, if not the PCs (generally speaking it means players must work harder for their XP), but there isn't as-published. So you can either create a timeline OR you can bolster the scenarios to make them a quick series of encounters that challenge the PCs on their own. Either works. I went with the latter (though they still did the enter book, extra content and all, in 6 days).

    Lastly: I had the condottari start a blockade of the island at some point (you pick) to make it hard to get to and from until they're dealt with. Figured I should mention that now...


    Part 0 - The Kickoff:

    Question: So how does Ara (sorcerer 11 by default) lose a fight against Chard (ranger 7 / hellknight 2 by default) when her hellknights outnumber his by more than 2-to-1? Best answer I can think of: PC intervention!

    NB: I moved Tanarik House closer to the shore for this scenario to work better.

    Last Light of the Law: I set this scenario at dusk on the day of Iltus' murder. I placed this a week after the PCs emerged from the Nessian Spiral, where they'd be busy trying to clean up some of the aftermath - dispatch devils and tieflings, capture looters etc. This can be run almost immediately, but I wanted to give the PCs a chance to get themselves sorted out gearwise before ramping things up again. Given that he Nessian Spiral didn't at all go to plan, having the siblings take a moment to plot their next move is fair,

    The concept is that Eccardian (I recommend bladebound hexcrafting magus, for the record) has been courting Ara Verennie with regards to gaining her support in his bid for power, with promise to grant the Hellknights - under her command, naturally - full authority over the dottari with the mandate to enforce his Law on the city. In order to see this come about, the siblings need to shake up things even more - Eccardian borrows a hellknight weapon and murders the duxotar with it just before dawn, and although the deed takes most of a day to filter through the ranks of the dottari, it eventually lands on Durotas Saria Roccin's lap to do something about it.

    Thus, the PCs (given the safehouse isn't far away) find a scene where, near dusk, the dottari have picketed Tanarik House and are demanding the surrender of those within while the murder of the duxotar is investigated, while the Hellknights hold their ground. The tense situation explodes when a condottari sail barge starts bombarding Tanarik House with deck-mounted catapults, whereupon many of the Hellknights who were outside of Tanarik House forming a defensive line rush the dottari picket line, and within, Ara Verennie makes her bid for a coup.

    THE BOMBARDMENT: Captain Michelanus Atenaar (LN male human fighter 7) is in his mind doing his duty - acting Durotas Casiara Bolvona (NB: I had Scasi be on the Council and killed, and his bastard daughter step up - more detail is in the Condottari Marina section later) issued orders for him to flush the Hellknights out of Tanarik House via artillery bombardment and disperse them, so that they could be arrested for the murder of the Duxotar - where he is, he can't see the dottari forces as he's using indirect fire.

    The sail barge has the captain, two lieutenants (CR3) and 17 dottari (CR 1/2) aboard, most of whom are manning the three light catapults, and is presently some 100ft from shore (and 550ft from Tanarik House and thus suffering 3 range increment penalties, so frequently missing).

    Saria Roccin: Saria Roccin (at your option) can take on either stopping the street fights or stopping the bombardment, to allow the PCs to focus on the other. While effective, this isn't ideal, as her method will be to use archers to force the sail barge to flee (given she can't otherwise reach it). If she stops the bombardment, no Victory Points are earned, but the PCs can spend 2 Fame Points to earn 1 Popularity Point for not intruding on dottari affairs.

    Outcomes:

    • If the PCs stop the bombardment, they'll spare 4 loyalist Hellknights and 7 Armigers, and 19 dottari who would otherwise die from catapult stone or collapsing buildings.
    • If the PCs permit the bombardment to run its course, they'll suffer -1 Victory Point and the barge will return to the condottari flotilla, though Captain Atenaar is later assassinated and replaced.
    • Taking Captain Atenaar and at least half of his crew alive and handing them to Durotas Roccin gives +1 Victory Point as they later defect to her side.
    • Fame: If the PCs spend 2 Fame Points and make a DC25 Diplomacy or Intimidate check (assists allowed, no penalty for combat or rushing) they can convince the condottari to stand down, and he will surrender himself to the dottari to answer for his shelling of their forces. This earns the above +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point

    STREET FIGHTS: Although dottari and hellknight forces are skirmishing throughout the surrounding area, there are two centers of combat where the casualties are highest; The old Scriptorium and Endwater Avenue. At each of these locations a dottari captain (CR6) has rallied 5 squads (each consisting of a CR3 lieutenant and six CR 1/2 dottari), and is facing 8 hellknights (CR5) and their esquired armigers (CR1)

    Saria Roccin: At your and the PCs discretion, Saria Roccin could handle the streetfights (but not these and the bombardment - she can only do one), and she will call off for her troops to make a fighting retreat and significantly reduce casualties, as she allows wounded to be evacuated on both sides. Her method is less effective than the PCs stopping it themselves, thus doesn't earn any Victory Points by default. If the PCs spend 2 Fame Points they can lean on the two sides to allow Arael and other nearby Children of Westcrown NPCs to be allowed in to treat the wounded, dramatically reducing casualties and granting +1 Victory Point.

    Outcomes:

    • If the PCs stop the street fights by siding with one faction, they'll spare either 31 dottari or 6 hellknights and 6 armigers. If they avoid killing the combatants and take (most of) them alive, they gain +1 Victory Point.
    • At one or both fights, the PCs can spend 1 Fame Point and make a DC25 Diplomacy or Intimidate check (assists allowed, no penalty for rushing) to get the combatants to stand down and take cover. Doing so at both earns the above +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point.
    • If no one stops the fights, they continue to the end and the dottari are pushed back into the streets, with the final deathtoll amounting to 31 dottari, 6 loyalist hellknights and 6 armigers.

    SCHISM IN THE RANKS: Ara Verennie (CR12, LE female human Sorcerer 11 / Hellknight Signifier 2), has used her charm monster, suggestion and dominate person spells extensively among the ranks of the hellknights, and turned many of them against the "inept leadership" of Paralictor Chard, and while the dottari picketed Tanarik House, she brought those loyal to her inside and made ready to wrest control of the hellknights from her commander.

    Paralictor Chard (I made him Fighter 7 / Hellknight 5, personally) and his loyalists are badly outnumbered, as most of his forces are outside fighting the dottari when Ara stages her coup, and without PC intervention the affair is likely to be bloody.

    Within Tanarik House, there are:

    • 19 Loyalist Hellknights (I made 3 into CR8 officers; 3 hellknights die before the PCs arrive)
    • 18 Loyalist Armigers (2 die before the PCs arrive)
    • Paralictor Gonville Chard
    • 32 Heretic Hellknights (I made 2 CR7 officers)
    • 34 Heretic Armigers
    • Signifier Ara Verennie

      Fame: By default the loyalist Hellknights won't accept assistance at first and while they will focus their attacks on the heretics, won't treat the PCs as allies. If the PCs spend 1 Fame Point and make a DC20 Diplomacy or Intimidate check (no penalty for rushing or in combat) the loyalists will accept their aid and fight alongside them, which grants the PCs +1 Popularity Point. Additionally, as long they then intervene on the side of the loyalists, the the alliance with the Hellknights in Part 3 will cost no Fame Points.

      NB: Ara has a contingency active that has her dimension door to a "rally point" in an abandoned building 800ft away if she drops below 20 hitpoints. Given PC damage potential, it is quite possible to have her drop from above this threshold to simply dead, and which point her body is dimension doored to the rally point and taken away by the escaping Heretics - if this occurs, she will return as a ghost (lacking her Signifier levels) pretty much as per the published adventure, just without the suicide.

      Outcomes:
      [list]

    • If the PCs do not intevene, Chard will eventually spearhead a charge through the Heretic line to attack Ara directly, forcing her to teleport away with 4 hellknights, and signals the retreat of the heretic forces, who abandon Tanarik house and flee. Chard stands victorious, but barely, as the Loyalist casualties consist of 12 hellknights and 14 armigers, while the Heretics lose 4 hellknights and 17 armigers.
    • If the PCs join the fray and assist in driving off the Heretics, they'll reduce Loyalist casualties by 3 Hellknights and 4 Armigers (roughly) and increase the Victory Point value of the alliance with the Hellknights (See Part 3) by +1
    • If the PCs instead get to Ara Verennie quickly and force her to teleport away early (or kill her and trigger her contingency), they'll save 6 loyalist Hellknights and 8 armigers (roughly) and raise the Victory Point value of the alliance with the Hellknights (See Part 3) by +2.

    Even if the PC's assist Chard, he refuses to risk his Hellknights until something is done to bring some order to the dottari - see Part 2.


    Part 1 - Children of Westcrown:

    I... sort of skipped this bit, as my PCs were thoroughly integrated and central to the Children of Westcrown, and not only socialized a lot with many of the NPCs, but were in relationships with some, and in one case lived with one.

    Thus having a section dedicated to catching up and planning was a bit redundant as that happened all the time.

    Part 2 - A Feud Among Nobles:

    Premise: With the events of the kickoff above, it is evident to all that the dottari really need to be brought into some semblance of control, and for that, they need a new Duxotar to provide the overarching authority to reign in the disparate factions. As Westcrown has no mayor to appoint the duty to another party, the responsibility falls upon House Mhartis, who have long served the city in this capacity, and as such have the right to choose another of their number to shoulder the mantle. Problem is that the siblings know this and have taken the entire family hostage - they're too useful to Eccardian to simply kill, but he wants the option to dispose of them if need be.

    Additionally, one legacy of Sivanshin remains: Thesing Umbero Ulvauno (CR14 CE male human vampire bard 13), insufferable actor turned vampire, and now thoroughly free willed, he seeks vengeance on all those who "wronged him", including Guxer Ciucci who not only owns and operates many of the theaters in town, but had the gall to cancel his contracts with the actor and dismiss him from a cast after a trifling incident! (In truth, after the Six Trials debacle Thesing took to drink and narcotics, and assaulted several other cast members). Discovering a doppelganger in his travels, he dominated the creature and warped it with modify memory to become an agent of his wrath, and unleashed it upon the Ciucci family. It knows of the Council of Thieves, as does Thesing, but neither really care much about them or their plans.

    From here on, most of this section of the adventure I ran as-is, except for making the doppelganger a tad more dangerous (APL+0 is not very scary) and adding a bunch of additional Mhartis family members.

    MHARTIS DILEMMA: In addition to Ganefini (60; LN male human aristocrat 4 / fighter 5), Lonosete (51; N female human aristocrat 4), Lodross (26; LN male human aristocrat 4 / fighter 5) and Recinni (14; CN male human aristocrat 1), I added the following Mhartis members:

    • Vanaro (23; NG male human aristocrat 4 / fighter 4): Lodross' younger brother, he is almost the equal of his elder sibling with a blade, but tends to be cricitized by his father for leaning towards idealism over practicality and tradition.
    • Talton (20; N male human aristocrat 2 / fighter 2): The third brother, Talton is somewhat overweight and had the unfortunate timing to be up and getting a midnight snack when the Council attacked - and is suffering from a poorly bandaged stomach wound for it.
    • Mericine (17; NG female human aristocrat 2 / fighter 1): The younger of the Mhartis' two daughters, her aunt Jithana has trained her in the sword (much to her mother's horror), but the young noblewoman dreams of a life on the stage.
    • Jithana (52; CN female human aristocrat 4 / fighter 6): "Aunty Jith" is a heavy sleeper and even heavier hitter. Right now the spinster is looking for a chance at loud and furious vengeance at her Council captors.
    • Helici (22; CG female human fighter 4): Jithana's squire and secret lover, the Council agents weren't sure who she was, but stuffed her into the storage room along with the other prisoners anyway. She is mortified at "their secret" getting out, and outraged at the audacity of the Council.

    After saving the Mhartis family, Ganefini, depressed and in mourning for his eldest son, will intend to take up the mantle of Duxotar himself, rather than put anymore of his children at risk. While understandable, Ganefini is in no state to inspire confidence among the dottari - he will perform the function adequately but little more than that. Either of his two elder sons, Lodross and Vanaro, would be a better choice, where;

    • Lodross is technically the next in line for the position, as he is the elder of the two and generally would be Ganefini's preference. He is bold, disciplined and believes in getting the duty and results.
    • Vanaro is in most regards an equally valid choice, and is easily as skilled as his older brother, however where he differs greatly is in his attitude. Vanaro believes strongly that the ends don't justify the means, and is passionate about placing people over victory.

    Outcomes:

    • Saving the Mhartis family earns the PCs +1 Victory Point
    • Saving all members of the Mhartis family also grants +1 Popularity Point
    • For 2 Fame Points and a DC20 Diplomacy check Ganefini can be convinced to appoint Lodros as Duxotar, granting +2 Victory Points
    • For 2 Fame Points and a DC25 Diplomacy check, Ganefini can be convinced to appoint Vanaro as Duxotar, granting +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point

    A PLAGUE UPON CIUCCI: Given that it is entirely up to the GM and players how much time passes, the assumption of months of torment having passed is... odd. Certainly, it could have been, but I would strongly suggest you consider how long the doppelganger has been hassling them (in my version, it needs to have started after the PCs killed Sivanshin), and scaling such things accordingly. As I ran it, Delilee had been dead 10 days and Cecelly 4 days (and was in a coffin in the manor and under the effects of gentle repose while Guxer mourned).

    If you like, the timing could allow the use of raise dead, should your PCs be so inclined. Mine were, and given the absurd amount of wealth in the adventure were somewhat liberal with such... which might not be the intent of Golarion where NPC souls are generally supposed to be judged by Pharasma quickly and thus unable to be raised, but frankly it's still left entirely to the GMs call - and thus it's your (and the PCs) choice whether the sad tale of the Ciucci's ends with tragic loneliness or family reunion.

    Additionally, adjusting the timing makes the odds of Arten reaching Magnimar... less likely. Feel free to put him in Westpool instead (I did because it takes months to get to Magnimar from Westcrown).

    Otherwise, I played this section out basically as normal (okay, I added some guard characters and had notes for who-thought-they-did-what-to-who and so on, but it was mostly the same scenario), and it plays pretty well at that.

    Outcomes: The Ciucci's can contribute little to the fate of the city, but the PCs good deeds will definitely be heard if they do help them out.

    • Stopping Zevenxus and restoring Guxer's madness yields +1 Popularity Point
    • Raising both Delilee and Cecelly Ciucci grants +1 Popularity Point
    • Spending 1 Fame Point to convince Arten (not in Varisia in my version, but Westpool) to return and seek redemption grants +1 Popularity Point

    Part 3 - Courting the Hellknights:

    Given this is mostly a diplomatic section, it works as published fairly well (though I prefer Chard's portrait from Book 1.. .same with Janiven's earlier too).

    Given that Chard is having a bit of a crisis of faith regarding the necessity and effectiveness of the PCs, I added the option to nudge him further along the train of thought that, perhaps, the Order of the Rack needs to be realigned with the founding principles of upholding the Law first and foremost, as their recent focus on censorship and information control may have blinded them to their most important duty.

    Outcomes:

    • If the PCs fought alongside the Hellknights in the Schism in the Ranks event, the alliance costs no fame. Otherwise securing the alliance requires 2 Fame Points and gives +2 Victory Points (plus any bonuses from Schism in the Ranks).
    • For 2 Fame Points and a moving speech (and a lot of diplomacy) it is possible to refocus Chard and his hellknights on their order's primary purpose - Upholding the Law - and relax their previously zealous stance on "unnecessary knowledge". Doing so grants +2 Popularity Points.
    • (Optional) If the alliance is forged, for every Fame Point spent, Chard will place a Hellknight and esquired Armiger under the PCs command for the duration of the crisis, up to a maximum of one third of his surviving Hellknights

    Part 4 - City of Discord:

    Premise: Normally these things are sorted by area, as they're intended to be a sandbox... I'm sort of doing that, but actually listing them chronologically, as I'd recommend running them, which winds up being mostly by area largely because it makes sense to have the PCs work through an area rather than bounce around town. Feel free to do these in (almost) any order though.

    SAFEHOUSE ASSAULT: This is one of the few encounters which, balance wise, is about right at CR13, however given the likely presence of friendly NPCs and the fact that the PCs have had 5 books in which to improve/fortify the safehouse against just such a scenario, I felt like bumping it up a notch.

    In addition to the two captains (CR10) and twelve agents (CR3), I added a named assassin to lead them - Narsius Trenador (CR11 LE male half-elf unchained rogue 3 / ranger 1 / wizard 5 / eldritch knight 3, human favored enemy, obviously, plus diviniation spells, fly and haste. Or you can just make them ranger 6 / unchained rogue 6 or some such), whom is a notorious assassin with vital information, as well as 20 (CR1) mercenary thugs they have in reserve, who will charge in on signal as a distraction and second wave.

    Where: Safehouse (or Delvehaven, if they take it over).
    When: At night, whenever the PCs gather there (hopefully early on)
    Why: Some of the NPCs were tailed, and then the Council made use of clairvoyance, scrying and similar to scout out the interior a little.

    Narsius: If captured, Narsius (a consumate mercenary) will offer a deal to the PCs: In return for his freedom, he'll tell the PCs what he knows of the Council plans, providing them +1 Victory Point and the following information:

    • Details of the secret rally at the Gargling Gargoyle and the Council plans to attack it.
      The condottari and regidottari commanders are both in Eccardian's pocket and their forces are operating under Council orders.
    • The Pleatra has been captured by sponsered gangs calling themselves the "Bloody Barons" - a play on their efforts to take over Rego Crua. They think it clever. They're a coalition of three gangs local and rural thugs.
    • Many targets have been captured rather than killed, and the Council is holding them somewhere in Regicona - but he's not sure where.

    If the PCs offer his freedom, but kill or detain him later, they will suffer -1 Popularity Point for their duplicity. If the PCs refuse his offer and hand him over to the dottari or hellknights, they'll receive 1 Popularity Point.

    Outcome:

    • If the PCs defeat or drive off the hit squad, they gain +1 Victory Point.
    • If the PCs capture or kill Narsius Trenador, they gain +1 Victory Point.
    • (Option) Accept Narsius' deal +1 Victory Point
    • (Option) Reject Narsius' deal +1 Popularity Point
    • If the PCs are victorious and spend 4 Fame Points to publicise the attack against a holy site of Iomedae, as well as their triumph against the assassins, the Council will refrain from such aggressive tactics, and the PCs will gain +2 Popularity Points.

    PLAYING WITH FIRE: Rather than a single barbed devil in a random place... I made this a bit more of an event. Instead, the devils will start off by infiltrating a building near the Limehouse theater (old four storey building which functions as second-hand book store, chandler and flayleaf dealer with rooftop crops), capturing the eight people within and using the various flammable materials as fuel to prepare for the coming event.

    While a performance is ongoing at the Limehouse, they drop bundles of wax, paper and other flammable materials at the entrances and start setting the building ablaze - fast enough to trap people within, but slow enough to allow the PCs to get there and intervene before there casualties. Once the PCs arrive, they set their 'den' ablaze - rolling out flamming debris into the street to barricade the PCs into the dead-end. They then release the "Flaming Devils" - the unfortunate residents of the building who were wrapped in wet cloth (to prevent premature expiration) and then crude but highly flammable paper-mache disguises, which they set alight and push them out into the street.

    With the Limehouse ablaze with an audience trapped within, eight panicked "Flaming Devils" and a flaming barricade to pen them in, the barbed devil sits atop a nearby roof to hurl scorching rays at the PCs.

    Flaming Devils: These panicked citizens are 2nd level commoners have 7hp each and lose 1hp per round to their burning disguises. They will run around in a blind panic and flail (+1 to hit, 1 damage plus 1d6 fire) at any creature they encounter that isn't another "flaming devil" and deal 1d6 fire damage to any creature that attacks them with a non-reach weapon or attempts a combat maneuver against them. Putting out a devil requires a standard action (unless casting create water or other spells) at at least a gallon of water or a DC15 Strength check. For each "Flaming Devil" saved, award the PCs 800xp.

    Limehouse Patrons: The Limehouse audience is a disreputable rabble, but (arguably) don't deserve to be burned to death. The problem is that they can't see a way out through the smoke, flames and panic. Rallying the audience requires 2 Fame Points and a DC30 Intimidate or DC20 Perform (act) check, after which point they can be directed with a move action to haul furniture, break windows (or other parts of the structure - they're a fiesty lot), or form a bucket brigade when outside.

    Robahl Nolmon: Where others are trying to escape, Robahl is trying to berate his actors into "laying down their lives and doing their duty" to save his theatre... quite unsuccessfully. Getting him to leave the burning building can be achieved in a variety of means (the audience is happy to carry him out kicking and screaming, if rallied).

    Impending Retribution: If the PCs spend 3 Fame Points (or 2 if the Audience is rallied, as they will heckle the devil. Yes. Really.) to impress upon the devil the fate it's master will suffer when they get their hands on it, Melvangian will opt to hold his summon ability in reserve, for such an encounter, and cease his firestarting campaign.

    Where: Limehouse Theatre
    When: During the day, when the PCs are nearby and a performance is going.
    Why: As Ackbar once said; IT"S A TRAP!

    Outcomes: Simply killing the summoned devil achieves little, as it simply returns to Erebus and can be resummoned tomorrow anyway. Instead, awards come from other objectives achieved.

    • Saving some (2 or more) of the "Flaming Devils" grants +1 Popularity Point; saving most (6 or more) of them grants +2 Popularity Points instead.
    • Rallying the Limehouse audience (yes, those guys) requires 2 Fame Points but grants +1 Victory Point as the disreputable rabble stick to the Children of Westcrown like glue afterwards, helping out in their own unique way.
    • Saving Robahl will grant +1 Popularity Point
    • If the PCs spend 3 Fame Points (or 2 if they got the Limehouse audience on side), Melvangian will cease the firestarting campaign and grant PCs +1 Victory Point.

    ROLAN THE GEARSMITH: As a side note, his "toys" should be CR4, as them being metal costs 2 Construction Points which raises their CR by +1. I had him go a bit further, and build 12 Janitor constructs, 4 flying animated toys, 7 large sized "Guardian" constructs and be working on a huge sized animated object (which looks uncannily like an avatar of Torag) called "Lawbringer"... But feel free to be less insane.

    I also gave three options to dealing with this encounter, as follows:

    Beatfest: Simply beat him unconscious and smash the constructs and, lo, the problem is over... after a fashion. Going this route works, but gets only the most minimal rewards.

    Mania vs Morale: If going this route, if/when a fight breaks out breaking enough of his creations will eventually see him break down and surrender, as his "children" meant the world to him, and seeing them destroyed breaks his heart. I modelled this by having him start with 20 Morale points, which also increase the DC of any checks needed to get him to surrender, and when he hits 0 he will surrender. (Assuming just 8 'toys'):

      [*-5 per 'toy' destroyed
    • -4 if he is taken below 50% health
    • +2 per PC he drops below 50% health
    • +5 per PC he drops to 0hp or less.

    At 0 morale he surrenders, convinced that his crusade was doomed and that he was a fool to think he could do any good. On the plus side, while he's a depressed wreck, he's at least not attacking the PCs and they can talk to him and he won't resist a greater restoration.

    Crazy Talk: Trying to talk him down or otherwise cure his mania and/or paranoia peacefully is the hardest route available, but one yielding the most benefits. Essentially both madnesses have a save DC for him to suppress them, and getting him to suppress at least one is enough to get him to stand down his constructs for now, while getting him to suppress both means he will accept a greater restoration, but only if provided within 24 hours of the conversation.

    In abstract terms, he has 20 Madness points which increase the DC of his Paranoia (base DC17) and Mania (DC14) by a like amount, noting his Will save is +6. Certain actions and lines of discussion add or remove Madness points, and getting him to try to test his Madness gives him a new save against one of his two madnesses... but failing such a save adds 1 Madness point.

    • -2 Madness: Approaching peacefully reminds him of normality
    • -2 Madness: Staying calm and polite in the face of his mechanical monstrosities weakens his paranoid
    • -3 Madness: Praising his creations appeals to his professional pride and serves as a reminder of past "good times"
    • -5 Madness: Discussing the plans for his "janitor" constructs in the sewers, and praising the idea helps him deal with his "greatest failure", and rationalize it as the shortsightedness of Aberian.
    • 2 Madness: Discussing the merits of his sewer janitor project, but disagreeing with him - he still feels he's right, but the chance to discuss it rationally reminds him of more 'normal' times.
    • -5 Madness: For every Fame Point spent, the PCs relate their deeds for the city, and ease his paranoia by showing them that they too wish to save their home.
    • +2 Madness: Aggressive behaviour such as making demands, bearing arms etc.
    • +2 Madness: Criticizing his work or actions - he's certain he's doing the right thing, and direct confrontation on the topic will only exacerbate his paranoia.
    • +4 Madness: Any attempt to use Intimidate.

    He's willing to talk as long as the PCs don't show any outwardly hostility towards his constructs or him. If he hits 25 Madness he'll cease friendly discussion and call his constructs into battle immediately to "toss the PCs out".

    Outcome:

    • Stopping the misguided Rolan and his constructs earns +1 Victory Point
    • Curing Rolan's madness earns +1 Popularity Point
    • If Rolan's madness is cured with all his constructs intact, he upgrades them and allows them to be put to use to aid the Children of Westcrown, earning +1 Victory Point
    • Otherwise, is willing to produce upgraded (advanced) 'toys' at a rate of one set of 4 every 1d4 day, requiring the PCs to spend 1 Fame Point and 10,000gp per set, along with a control amulet. For every 8 such constructs aiding the Children of Westcrown, the PCs gain +1 Victory Point[/b]

    NOBLE LURE: I completely rewrote this encounter for a few reasons: First, I couldn't rationalize the original setup; Secondly, I couldn't bring myself to make the nobles such useless, stupid and ineffectual fops; Lastly, I felt the original setup was actually counter to Eccardian's actual game plan - Having assassins (who look strangely like his "army" later) rock up and murder people infront of the nobility is not going to help his image as the saviour of the city.

    So instead I made it a semi-secret rally for the various noblemen and women who sought to try and do something about the anarchy in the streets, which Eccardian was obviously not going to let fly. It also offered me a chance to show the PCs prior actions in relation to the nobility having a positive effect, as those they aided are not trying to be... you know... helpful.

    I put the following families on the mainland: Mezinas; Rosala; Khollarix; Vitaron; Messepe; Ulvauno; Atenaar; Nymmis; Mhartis; Ciucci; Rasdovain; Ghival. Jurian Khollarix and Armon Rosala (current head after his parents were assassinated) are leading the Rally, while the Mhartis and Nymmis families are assisting, and have been spreading news of the rally by word of mouth to nobles throughout the region. In total, 20 noblemen and women (typically CR4, aristocrat 6) show up - all bearing some form of arms, but most are more discretely armoured in studded leather or chain shirts, rather than in medium or heavy armour. Additionally the organizers have brought 10 men at arms (CR1 warrior 3) to assist in security.

    Nobles: I'd recommend using 6th level aristocrats with the Heroic stat-line (including racial and level adjustment): Str 15, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 14, with a masterwork chain shirt and masterwork longsword or rapier, and both Weapon Focus and Power Attack feats.

    Eccardian has smuggled across a barge loaded with hellhounds and hellish cavalry he intends to unleash upon the rally - moving it through the city sewers to just beneath the Gargoyle. As the rally convenes and the opening speeches begins, 12 hellhounds (CR3) and 6 hellish cavalry (bearded devils riding hellcats) emerge and attack. Their goal is not to kill all of the nobles, but to break up the rally and scatter the nobles, and as such this is a battle of morale:

    Morale: At the onset of the battle, the Rally starts with 10 Morale points (15 if the PCs saved Jurian Khollarix in Book 5), which add to the base Morale save of the group (+4). At the end of each round, the Rally makes a DC20 Morale save, with success indicating they'll keep fighting, and failure causing the group to scatter as each family look to their own and try to retreat back to their estates. The following things in combat affect Morale:

    • -4 per leader defeated (Jurian Khollarix, Armon Rosala, Alatrenion Nymmis, Jithana Mhartis)
    • -2 per noble defeated
    • -1 per man-at-arms defeated
    • +1 per Hell Hound defeated
    • +2 per Bearded Devil defeated
    • +4 her Hellcat defeated
    • +5 per Fame Point the PCs spend to bolster morale

    Now, depending on your group you may need to mix things up a bit - the purpose of the encounter is to present a combat with a twist - where victory isn't just about the PCs killing all the enemies, but about fighting with and supporting the NPCs. I'd also suggest fudging the first roll or two, as having the nobles break on the first round due to bad luck would... well... suck. Lastly; Try to have the nobles and soldiers fight defensively and let the PCs take the initiative, otherwise you'll end up with way too many dice to roll and complete carnage all around.

    Outcomes:

    • Saving the Rally yields +1 Victory Point
    • If all the Rally leaders are still standing at the end of the fight, the morale of the nobles is greatly bolstered, granting and additional +1 Victory Point
    • Forging a formal alliance between the Children of Westcrown and the coalition of young nobles grants an additional +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point, but requires several hours of negotiation and coordination and spending 3 Fame Points, though this cost is reduced by 1 for every 10 Morale points they have at the end of the attack (to a minimum of 0).
    • If at least half the nobles rallied are standing at the end of the fight, the PCs gain +1 Popularity Points. If all of the nobles are standing, they instead gain +2 Popularity Points.
    • If at least half of the men-at-arms are standing at the end of the fight, the PCs gain +1 Popularity Points.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Part 5 - City of Death:

    Premise: Rather than be entirely undead in Rego Cader, I expanded this one to place some things in Crua, and also to have a few events leading up to the PCs going to the island for Part 6. I also tried to make more use of the condottari in this section too.

    BLOODY BARONS The "Bloody Barons" are a coalition of three sponsered gangs that the siblings have arranged to get into the city unnoticed to occupy and terrorize Rego Crua while the rundottari are otherwise occupied holding the Oberigan Wall. Two of the gangs are from Rego Cader and were tipped off that something unpleasant was about to happen and to get out, while the third is from the marshes to the west and was recruited by more "typical" methods - bribery and intimidation.

    The group have captured the Pleatra, slain the guards and taken the slave population for themselves - and added to it by kidnapping various residents of the destrict. Combined, they are an impressive force, and the fortified complex of the Pleatra gives them a very defensible base of operations within Rego Crua. The three gangs and their area of concern are:

    The Honourable Gents: Lead by Corhan, they are the dominant gang within the Bloody Barons, and formerly operated the Blood Pit arena within Rego Cader.

    • Leader: Corhan (LE male Kellid/Chelish human fighter 11). Born to slavery, Corhan was traded a dozen times before winding up owned by an extremely abusive master, whom Corhan killed as soon as he was old and strong enough. Tough, disciplined, ruthless but with a veneer of culture and politeness, he is a dangerous man at the best of times.
    • Role: Extortion, burglary, kidnapping, slavery, assassination. They are primarilly responsible for the missing rundottari patrols within Crua.
    • Forces: The largest of the gangs, they consist of 8 Bruisers (CR6; LE male human fighter 7), 20 Gangsters (CR2; NE male human warrior 4) and 50 Thugs (CR 1/2; NE male human warrior 2)
    • Notes: Most of the security and defense force of the Pleatra are Honourable Gents, though they have small patrols shaking down citizens and abducting those they think the family will pay to have back... or someone else will pay for. Furthermore, Corhan is rapidly getting sick of Alexite's barbaric behaviour, and will be willing to pay a hefty ransom to anyone who can dispose of him discretely (5,000gp).

    The Westmarsh Reavers: Lead by Alexite (Stiglor's former partner) they are a band of highwaymen and murderers that operated out of the marshes to the west until recruited by the singlings.

    • Leader: Alexite (CE male Chelish human ranger 11). An ex-dottari who deserted years ago after deciding he can get better money being a thief rather than catching them. He is brutal, short-tempered and indescriminate.
    • Role: Mugging, theft, robbery, vandalism, murder. The Reavers are the most visible of the Barons, as they roam the streets "enforcing their turf", and picking fights with dottari when they find them in smaller groups.
    • Forces: The second largest of the gang, the Westmarsh Reavers consist of 6 Bruisers (CR6; CE male human ranger 6), 18 gangsters (CR2; NE male human warrior 4) and 40 Thugs (CR 1/2; NE male human warrior 2).
    • Notes: Alex divides the gang into 5 groups - his "posse", plus two large patrols at day and night each. Generally speaking, when not on "active duty" (a loose term within the Reavers) they can be found at the Pleatra, partaking of the distractions within or sleeping off their binges.

    The Red Devils: Red Sara's operation in the Dusk Market was small, but when she got a tip-off that the Dusk Market was about to be destroyed... she found some hired muscle quickly and took the opportunity to get into Crua, joining the coalition as much for protection as profit.

    • Leader: Red Sara (NE female tiefling rogue 8). Red Sara is no saint, but although her criminal record would be a mile long, she's got buy with a surprisingly low body count, as intimated by her frequent catchphrase - "I deal in pleasure, not pain". Only about half of her forces are particularly loyal, the rest are merely allies of convenience.
    • Role: Drug trafficking, prostituion, slavery and running the "Flesh Market" - a joke title for the "New Dusk Market" due to it's location within the Pleatra. The Red Devils are few in number, but handle the commercial arm of the coalition, ensuring coin flows into the gangs pockets from all corners of the city.
    • Forces: In addition to Red Sara, she has her "Best Man", Manun (NE male tiefling barbarian 10), 4 Bruisers (NE male tiefling rogue 7), 12 goons (CR2; warrior 4, mixed genders, human and tiefling) and 30 thugs (CR 1/2; warrior 2, mixed genders, human and tiefling).
    • Notes: Red Sara has convinced Corhan of the necessity to "reign in the boys" and enforces a policy that the slaves she's brought into her prostitution ring from the Pleatra are mostly definitely not free for the gang members - everyone needs to pay or go without. She can do little for what the Reavers do outside of the Pleatra, or with those they abduct, but she finds the entire practice extremely distasteful. Red Sara is, in essence, the lesser evil of the three, and is looking for a way to get out of the arrangement... while still getting ahead, of course.

    Dealing with the Barons: There are a number of ways to handle this scenario, but all require some degree of caution - there are a lot of gang members under this banner.

    • It's possible to enter the Pleatra under the cover of being there to "do business", at which point PCs will be frisked for weapons (Perception +10), and not permitted to weapon armor heavier than light. From there, reconnaisances is a very real possibility, as is brokering a deal with Red Sara.
    • There are many patrols in the streets, and taking some out would certainly make an assault on the pleatra easier, even if it risks alerting the gang to the impending attack.
    • Attacking the Pleatra during the day ensures the markets are open, and more of the gangsters are active - including Corhan - but most of the Reavers are out in the streets, including Alexite.
    • Attacking the Pleatra during the night makes it harder to get into as they bar most of the doors and windows, but less of the gangsters will be prepared for a fight. Furthermore, although all the gang leaders will be present, Corhan will be sleeping and Alexite will be heavily intoxicated (staggered).
    • Fireballing the interior of the Pleatra will eliminate most of the goons, but it will also kill the dozens of slaves and captives as well - causing the PCs to Lose 5 Popularity. And make any paladins in the party need to find a priest to atone to. Seriously.

    Outcomes:

    • Breaking the Bloody Baron's grip on Rego Crua gives +1 Victory Point
    • For each gang leader brought to justice, the PCs gain +1 Popularity Point (max 3)
    • Convincing Red Sara to switch sides and turn informant requires a Diplomacy check and 2 Fame Points, but grants +1 Victory Point.
    • (If Sara is turned) For 1 Fame Point she'll drug the food and drink of the Bloody Barons, softening them up for the PCs.
    • (If Sara is turned) For 1 Fame Point and a very good argument (and a lot of Diplomacy) she'll be agree to "Get on the saviours-of-the-city bandwagon" and clean up her act. Her talents and connections grant the PCs +1 Popularity Points
    • Recapturing the Pleatra and returning those the Barons had kidnapped nets the PCs +1 Popularity Point
    • For 2 Fame Points or 30,000gp the PCs can lean on the new Duxotar (The Mhartis family inherited the Pleatra when Aberian fled the city, as Lonosete was his next-of-kin) to sign over the Pleatra and all contents to the PCs. Liberating the slaves therein grants the PCs +1 Popularity Points.

    In any case, once the Bloody Barons are dealt with, the PCs can catch up with the rundottari safely, and learn of the walking dead assaulting the Oberigan Wall....

    WALKING HUNGER: Rather than find a Devourer (somewhere?) and having her start raising a bunch of zombies, I instead went with the concept that Archpriest Prenan Rustachas (73 year old male human cleric of Abadar 17) was captured and turned into a vampire by Sivanshin, and although his master was slain, he is still affiliated with the siblings (albeit with the loyalty of a cat) and, after turning his clergy and several priests of Asmodeus into vampires, has lead his forces to the dusk market, capturing many and slaughtering the rest - whom are being slowly turned into zombies.

    Now, it might seem a bit... unfair to throw someone who is debateably CR18 at the PCs. I say debatebly, as a key think to keep in mind is that he has virtually no equipment, horrible physical stats for a vampire (Str 14, Dex 8) and clever use of terrain will see him obliterated in 2 rounds if the PCs attack during the day. I pegged him as being CR14, but had him use most of his spell slots before the PCs turn up (he has a lot of undead to make). Alternatively, if this is not something you're game to try, you can drop him to Cleric 12 to 14.

    I also recommend using a lot of zombies. I used about 8 vampire cleric 8's along with him, for a total of 162 zombies able to be controlled at a time - and I recommend regular zombies as it makes them last longer against rundottari arrows. Sure, that costs... 8,100gp of onyx? Which is not actually that much. That's a baseline figure, feel free to add or subtract as you see fit, and scatter some 'loose' zombies throughout Cader.... I may be a fan of the whole army-of-walking-dead thing being somewhat army-like. Oh, and adding a few ghouls to the mix is always fun, giving that ghoul-fever factories are a good way to mass-produce even more ghouls - yay!

    Currently they're lairing in the old customs house, with their zombie hordes up top to guard them.

    Outcomes:

    • Destroying the vampiric cabal and their undead army grants +1 Victory Point
    • Resurrecting archpriest Prenan Rustachas grants +1 Victory Point and +1 Fame Point
    • (Hypothetically) resurrecting Rustachas' subordinates grants another +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point, but doing so is a tad unlikely.
    • (if using ghouls) Getting medical attention to those infected with ghoul fever requires the heroes spend 1 Fame Point and grants them +1 Popularity Point
    • (Option) Mopping up using mustered citizenry and allies requires 2 Fame Points and grants +1 Victory Point and the rundottari are free to return to policing Crua and the walls.
    • (Option) Mopping up the undead by convincing the rundottari to enter Rego Cader in force along with some Children of Westcrown representatives requires 2 Fame Points but grants +1 Popularity as the Rundottari work with their organization and see their handiwork.

    BASTARDS OF DEATH: I made Palaveen a ghoul, but a mohrg works just as well - either way the need fresh bodies to make undead with... and conveniently, there's the Last Stand Inn, where the surrounding population of unfortunates have crammed within it's walls seeking refuge from the undead horrors outside.

    Details on the Last Stand Inn are in "Casting Breath of Life on Westcrown".

    Outcomes:

    • Defeating Palaveen and his bastards of death grants +1 Victory Points
    • Saving the Last Stand Inn grants +1 Popularity Points.
    • Convincing the Rundottari to bring in supplies for the Inn and the hundreds of souls taking refuge within requires spending either 1 Fame Point or 10,000gp (bribes, food, bandages etc) but grants +1 Popularity Points.
    • Vaxelle, the innkeeper of the Last Stand will want to sign up with the Children of Westcrown (though if her guards suffered significant casualties, they'll need 1 Fame Point to be convinced), though on their own they can't be of much assistance. Getting them organized and equipped requires either 2 Fame Points or 20,000gp of equipment, but grants +1 Victory Point as they now function as a Rego Cader arm of the Children of Westcrown and will help in bringing order to the northern reaches of Cader.
    • (Once both Walking Hunger and Bastards of Death are complete) Convincing the new Duxotar and Durotas Arik Tuornos to reconsider the 'traditional' position on Rego Cader being a prison and those within criminals (even if born there), but to instead invest resources in patrolling and bringing order to the ruins rather than a turning a blind eye to events within.... requires a lot of Diplomacy and either 3 Fame Points (if Lodros is duxotar) or 2 Fame Point (if Vanaro is duxotar), but doing so grants +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point as the wasteland district is brought back to law and order.

    BANK OF ABADAR: If using Prenan Rustachas the vamp'd priest, it may be worth the PCs swinging by the bank - where Eccardian slaughtered the priesthood and has a Captain (CR10) and 12 Agents (CR3) masquerading as priests, the altar desecrated and the vaults pillaged, with half of their contents already removed from the premises. Eccardian was planning to have his people sabotage the temple so Melvangian could "destroy it" during his big reveal.

    Outcomes:

    • Liberating the Bank of Abadar from the Council Agents there grants +1 Popularity Point

    HELLKNIGHT SIEGE: I ran this somewhat later than originally planned - as the PCs are returning South from Cader, in fact. I didn't have it be too different from published, except for an increase in numbers - the PCs have a chance to save Hellknight lives, and with the increased number of loyalists, the Council needs to send increased numbers of enemies, yes?

    I wound up with about 40 hellknights (CR5) and 20 armigers (CR1) under Chard (my players raised some) and chopped this into two shifts, where only half were in Tanarik House when the assassins came (20 Hellknights, 10 armigers), noting there would be some early casualties. This meant I needed a significantly superior force to this for the scenario to work, so put in 6 heretics (CR5), 3 assassins (CR10), 20 Agents (CR3) and a whopping 36 Mercenary thugs (CR1). I also split them into three groups (Ground, upstairs and outside) to allow the PCs to tackle them as three linked encounters, rather than one huge one.

    Outcomes:

    • Breaking the siege reinforces the strength and reputation of the Children of Westcrown, granting them +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point; Failure to break the siege causes the loss of all Victory and Popularity Points gained from the alliance with the Hellknights (see Part 3).
    • Convincing some of the heretic hellknights to seek redemption requires removing their dominated state and spending 2 Fame Points to convince them of the error of following Ara's path and Chard to accept them. Doing so grants +1 Victory Point as they provide vital intelligence as to Ara's whereabouts and activities.
    • If Loyalist Hellknight casualties are kept to a minimum (past those already occurred), the PCs gain +1 Popularity Point

    NEW RECRUITS: And here I decided to take the gloves off.

    Rather than have eight CR5 guys on a marina, I instead had Eccardian commission a pirate brig from the Shackles to come in with a forged Letter of Marque from Aberian to occupy and operate the Rapture - an island resort and den of vice on the northern marina (see "Casting Breath of Life on Westcrown"). On the way to Westcrown, the pirates of the Amber Nymph under the command of Captain Hudson Green stopped by a few ports to collect a ramshackle bunch of drifters, thugs, goons and mercenaries to help take over the place.

    But Eccardian chose Hudson deliberately - the man has a reputation for being undisciplined, unprincipaled and uncontrollable, which got him ran out of the shackles by the other pirates, and ensured that his occupation of Rapture would be anything but smooth or peaceful. The pirates came in at dusk, levelling the guardhouse with catapult fire and have been rampaging through the casino, bordellos and drug dens of the island ever since.

    Blacknapes: The group loosely known as the "blacknapes" for their makeshift uniform consist of two parts; the pirate crew of the Amber Nymph and the thugs and goons they collected on the way.

    • The Amber Nymph: A typical pirate brig, the amber nymph is berthed on the north side of the island.
    • Captain Hudson Green (CE male human fighter 11): Ruthless, dirty-fighting and hedonistic scumbag, he maintains the loyalty of the crew by giving them what they want, and killing those who displease him with uncanny ease.
    • Quartermaster Florian Jones (NE male human fighter 9): Green's right-hand-man, the two of them ensure the crew are kept liquored and happy - even if it means skimping on maintenance.
    • Sailing Master Richard Dreg (N male human ranger 9): One of the few of the crew of the ship with some principles, he's served on the Nymph for two decades, and considers Green the worst he's seen. He will fight to defend the ship and crew, but surrender to a superior foe.
    • Boatswain Ben Leon (CE male human barbarian 9): "The Bosun" is... not an eloquent chap, but seems to command the respect of the crew. Okay, so his maul commands the respect, and he commands the maul.
    • Surgeon Julia Rackham (LE female human cleric of asmodeus 9): Principled but cold, she does her duty patching up the crew, and tolerates no nonsense from the lads. She will fight to defend her ship, but surrender if offered quarter by a superior foe. Like Dreg, she is unhappy with the current captain, but won't start a mutiny (she just won't oppose it).
    • The Crew: There are some 36 pirate crewmen of the Nymph (warrior 6, mostly male human, varied alignments), and while most (about 2 in 3) are hardened, ruthless, evil scumbags... about 1-in-3 have a somewhat cleaner conscience and are willing to take their chances and surrender if losing.
    • Goons: At various ports, the pirates have collected mercenaries, ex-pirates, ex-soldiers, ex-dreamers and whoever else to join them. Some are actually competent, and these are those. There are 40 of these guys on the island, and about 2-in-3 are vile scumbags. Typically CR2 warrior 4 (mostly male human, varied alignments)
    • Thugs: "The rest". These guys and gals (mostly guys) are not the best of combatants (CR 1/2; warrior 2, generally human male), but signed on regardless, though some are regretting the decision. About half are Vile Scumbags, while the others are mostly just products of circumstance (or being drunk at the time) and will surrender if defeat seems likely.

    Vile Scumbag vs There's-Hope-Yet: There are a LOT of people above, and slaughtering that many gets.. well.. blarg. So instead I've applied the philosophy that they dwell in two camps:

    • Vile Scumbags: These guys have done so much stuff they'll hang if captured and know it - there's no hope for them, and they'll fight to the death or try to flee, but won't surrender.
    • There's-Hope-Yet: These guys are... well, they're criminals, but there's at least hope for redemption, and most aren't facing a death sentance automatically. Given the chance, they'll surrender to a superior foe, especially if they aren't fond of what Green is doing.

    Locations:

    • Amber Nymph: Two watches stand on the Amber Nymph - by day Richard Dreg commands the ship along with 6 pirates, and by night Julia Rackham commands, along with her 6 pirates. Typically most of these pirates are volounteering to guard the Nymph due to being uncomfortable with what is happening in the Rapture.
    • Docks: Though mostly abandoned, there will usually be 2 Goons and 4 Thugs staggering or lounging around drunk.
    • Eatery: This small tavern has a large courtyard with awnings to allow outdoor dining, as well as rooms inside, and once provided all manner of unusual and indulgent food and beverage to visitors to the island. Now, the defiant cook still swings from the arch at the entrance, and fifteen beaten, abused and overworked staff busily try to feed and serve their new overlords. Typically 3 Pirates, 4 Goons and 10 Thugs can be found here, most of whom aren't as bad as the ones elsewhere, and will surrender with relative ease (most didn't personally kill the cook or beat the staff - that was mostly Jones and Leon).
    • Guardhouse: This building once held the dozen guards the island employed as security, but has since been flattened by catapult fire.
    • Menagerie: Once a three-storey building which hosted a variety of rare or exotic animals, plus some more common ones - many of which wound up (for the right price) cooked and served at the eatery, while others were part of more perverse forms of entertainment. Typically there are 3 Pirates, 6 Goons and 10 Thugs here, as well as 11 surviving staff and 5 women captured from Rego Crua. These are generally scumbags.
    • Lodging: While most of the pirates crash whereever they fall down, some actually go to bed and rest here, with 6 staff looking after the rooms. Typically there are 5 Pirates, 6 Goons and 15 Thugs asleep here at any time.
    • Brothel: While such diversions are available almost anywhere in the Rapture, this facility caters to those wishing a more expedient rendezvous. Of the original staff, only 17 women and 2 men remain, with the corpses of the other 7 dumped into the river. At any given time, 3 Pirates, 4 Goons and 8 Thugs can be found here - typically not in armour. These are generally scumbags.
    • Drug Den: Only 4 staff remain here of the original 7, and are catering to the demands of the 2 Pirates, 4 Goons and 8 Thugs who are typically here at any time... and drugged out of their minds.
    • Skiffs: The pirates have commandeered a number of small sailing craft they use to raid Crua, and typically there is one on the water at any time, with 2 Pirates, 4 Goons and 5 Thugs on it - who are generally scumbags.
    • Rapture Casino: This five storey extravagant building was once the heart of Rapture, and is currently the epicenter of the depravity and mayhem, and where Captain Green now rules. The Captain has done little to curb the activities of his crew and recruits, save for the rule that the Rapture "and all within" are property of the Nymph and damaging or breaking things (e.g. killing the staff) will be considered stealing from the crew... "unless they deserve it". There are 26 beaten and abused staff within (almost all women, as they killed most of the male staff), including four chained to a large throne from one of the 'themed rooms' upstairs which has been placed center stage for the captain. Captain Hudson Green is here, along with Florian Jones, Ben Leon, 6 Pirates, 10 Goons and 20 Thugs.

    NB: Most of the crew are drunk, drugged or unarmoured. Generally speaking feel free to apply the Staggered or Confused conditions randomly among the pirates and recruits.

    Outcome:

    • Defeating the Blacknapes grants +1 Victory Point
    • Preventing them from fleeing justice grants +1 Popularity Point
    • Capturing their ship, the Amber Nymph and crewing it requires either 2 Fame Points to muster a capable crew from the PCs allies, or 1 Fame Point and a great Diplomacy or Intimidate check to muster a competent crew from the redeemable Blacknape thugs. Either way, the PCs gain +1 Victory Point as the pirate brig is brought under their control (though using ex-pirate crew could have consequences, if you like)
    • (Option) Letting the Rapture be abandoned in the aftermath nets no points, but doesn't cost any either.
    • (Option) Letting the staff abandon the Rapture, and instead taking it over as a naval base for the Children of Westcrown requires a fair amount of leverage and resources, amounting to 2 Fame Points but grants +1 Victory Point
    • (Option) Convincing the staff to remain and continue operating the pleasure-island requires 1 Fame Point and grants +1 Popularity.
    • -> (If Rapture is reopened) Convincing the staff to turn over a bit of a new leaf, cutting down on the more depraved acts and hard drugs in favour of 'lighter' entertainment requires 2 Fame Points and grants an additional +1 Popularity
    • -> (If Rapture is reopened) Having the Rapture also function as a safehouse and base of operations for the Children of Westcrown requires 2 Fame Points (1 if it is 'cleaned up', per the above) and grants +1 Victory Point.

    CONDOTTARI MARINA: You know what this game needs? More drama and angst. Yep. That's it. So one serving coming riiiiight up.

    Casiara Bolvona - Background: Casiara is a half-elf, though her father had her go through cosmetic surgery to disguise the fact (DC25 Perception or Investigation to notice, if looking), and she plays down her true age to avoid looking too young. In reality, she is 24 (her father was 43), though she pretends to be 18 and the eldest child of his wife (who is not her mother). She entered the condottari as a lieutenant, and swiftly rose in ranks over the last two years - in part due to her skill and determination, and in part due to nepotism on the part of her father. When her father was killed, she stepped forward to lead the Condottari, and although there were two majors ahead of her for the position, they both stepped aside, fearing they might share Scasi's fate (noting that Scasi promoted them not for skill, but for their ability to push inattention down through the ranks).

    Casiara is… conflicted. About many things. Her dual nature makes it hard for her to 'blend in' as well as her fathered hoped, and she both appreciates and detests the surgery that made her look "more human". By all appearances, she is talented, of that there is no doubt, but sporadic and volotile, and finds it difficult to really earn the trust of the dottari soldiers. The fact that her talents are not from training or bloodline - as her father thought - but rather a pact she made in her teens, after overhearing her father talking about giving up trying to accept her as his prodigy, but instead send her to a foster home. Fleeing the rural estate she grew up in, she vanished into the night, alone and gripped by fear, anger, sadness and desperation. She screamed for a way to make her father accept her and not go away again… and she was answered. A figure stood at the crossroads ahead of her. A figure draped in shadow, but holding a parchment and quill. A figure that offered all she hoped for, in return for… well… a favor for a favor, of course. At the age of 11, she signed the pact with Hell.

    CR14, CN female half-elf 3.5 Warlock 14 / Fighter 2... I gave her a -1 CR modifier for the Warlock, as adapting such from 3.5 is less effective. Load her up with Vital Strike, Power Attack, Improved Vital Strike, Hideous Blow and Fell Flight, with a greatsword and full plate.

    Casiara Bolvona - Current: The Acting Durotas Casiara Bolvona resides in the Marina, and is reasonably confident that her flotilla of cutters and skiffs, plus the 6 ballista and 4 mangonels on towers around the Marina is more than enough to keep her from harms way. She has grounded many skiffs and reassigned personnel to ensure that the officers on the water will do what is ordered - she doesn't have the luxury of having an entire fleet in her pocket, but there are enough to make do. The more… "Stubborn" of condottari she had reassigned to garrison the Marina under the pretence that she needs top men protecting the base of operations, lest things go to hell. Literally.

    Casiara's motivations are really quite simple. She knew of her father's affiliation with the Council of Thieves, and had news and 'evidence' delivered to her implicating the Children of Westcrown in his death, along with the other Councilmen. She had been raised that the Council was the only thing holding the city together - it was the bastion of order neither the general aristocracy nor the Mayor manage to be. Killing the Council makes the Children of Westcrown anarchists and murderers… but more importantly, they killed her father (or at least, she thinks they did), and for that, she wants to make them PAY. She's not sure what the new leadership of the Council are up to (and is a little blinded by grief and vengeance at present), but sooner or later the Children of Westcrown will try to cross the water, and when they do, they'll be hers.

    The Condottari: Overall, the force consists of 1 Acting-Durotas (former captain), 2 Majors, 7 Captains (1 is acting-durotas), 48 Lieutenants and 288 dottari (depending on what happened with Cpt Atenaar and his crew). Additionally, they have 8 sail barges (complete with seige weapons) and 30 skiffs in total, most of which are out on the water blockading the island from travel. Casiara, both majors and a dozen lieutenants command the Marina, with 86 condottari manning the walls, watchtowers, signal towers, running patrols or simply sleeping.

    Most of the condottari are N to LN and just doing their jobs in a working environment where graft was commonplace and whisteblowers were punished by those at the top. It's not that they're thrilled by the current state of affairs, it's just that no one's empowered them to do anything about it. Such as... you know... letting them know that a new Duxotar has been appointed and has overridden Casiara's orders and it's time for them to get off their butts and help fix things. About 1-in-4 are "on the take", but that won't completely paralyze the whole force. Starting a coup within the condottari is doable.

    The Duxotar: By this point the PCs should have gotten a new Duxotar in place (Ganefini, Lodross or Vanaro), but where the dottari and rundottari fell into line, the Condottari are not and attempts to signal them via semaphore are being met with silence.

    Options: There are a few ways to do this. If the PCs want to charge the blockade with their ship(s) or otherwise start a fight with the Condottari... they certainly can, though wholescale slaughter of the water police force will see them lose both Victory and Popularity points (GM's discretion as to how many).

    A slightly more elegant approach would be to try and capture a small force (e.g. a skiff, which typically have a crew of 1 lieutenant and 5 condottari) and get some answers as to why they're not responding to signals from the mainland - which will point straight at orders from the top: Acting-Durotas Casiara.

    Going for the Marina directly, either by force (non-lethal where possible to avoid penalties) or by stealth to attempt to confront Casiara is a dramatically more elegant approach, as it avoids the decimation of the very condottari who could otherwise be rallied to help save the city.

    Of course, if you want some high drama and angst, just have the PCs sneak in and talk with her directly, and potentially handle the entire thing as a non-combat scenario. While it is possible to convince the grieving half-elf that the Children of Westcrown weren't responsible for her father's death, but rather, Eccardian was in his coup of the Council of Thieves… it is hard. And convincing her to try to make amends and not crumple into a ball of grief and self-hatred is even harder.

    Outcomes:

    • Breaking the alliance between the condottari and the Council of Thieves gains the PCs +1 Victory Point
    • Doing so more peacefully, by instigating a coup within their ranks, grants an additional +1 Popularity Point
    • Convincing the Acting-Durotas to see reason and stop her vengeance kick requires a lot of convincing material (good Diplomacy plus the infernal contract or similar evidence) and 2 Fame Points, but grants +1 Popularity Points in addition to the above (i.e. 1 VP, 2 PP).
    • (Option) If a more peaceful route is taken (coup or conversion) the Children of Westcrown can assist in 'cleaning up' the corruption within the condottari ranks (thanks to documents from Walcourt) and reforge the condottari into a more effective force of law. Doing so requires 2 Fame Points but grants an additional +1 Victory Point. and brings the Condottari into the Final Battle

    Part 6 - City of Damnation:

    Premise: This section deals with the events on the island itself, which, given I threw together a bunch of pirates and condottari blockade in the way to discourage arriving earlier, should be after at least most of Part 4 and 5. Hopefully. If your players are determined to skip ahead, try to keep them away from the Skarx's Prison event, as otherwise they'll find a lot more creatures in the end fight than they'd like, and have a lot less support.

    Also, it is, as always, actually okay as-published. I just wanted to build upon what was published with ridicilous amounts of content that could never fit in a module (curse of page count limits)... because I could. And so can you, if you like! No, seriously, the PCs leveled up seven times in Book 6 when I ran it <_<.

    HELL'S DEFECTORS: By default this is an APL+0 encounter (assuming the PCs are 12th by now), which if you're running a tight schedule is fine, but if you're letting the PCs determine when they rest is a bit of a cakewalk. My recommendation here is that unless Ara Verennie died in The Kickoff section, she be here commanding the troops, and CR12 on her own, which bolsters the entire encounter from APL+0 to APL+2.

    That said, I also made the building about 3 times the size, and had all the surviving heretic hellknights and armigers here, but with most (75%) of her forces only serving her due to charm monster or dominate person. This then allowed the tactic of using dispel magic and break enchantment to actually turn many of her forces against her, evening the odds. I also added the option to spend 1 Fame Point along with a DC30 Diplomacy or Initimidate check to grant all hellknights within 30ft who can see and hear the PC a fresh saving throw against the spell with a +2 circumstance bonus to their save.

    Additionally, I had them have a dozen nightmares (with Int 6) stabled nearby - the horses successfully transformed by the Nightmarish Stabling event. By default, they'll not attack directly, but will instead obey the commands of any hellknight (or person who looks like a hellknight) until Eccardian says otherwise - all of these nightmares have a lesser geas on them.

    Outcomes:

    • Defeating Ara and her heretics grants +1 Victory Point
    • Capturing the heretic hellknights and turning them over to Chard grants +1 Victory Point as he 'redeems' most of them.
    • Capturing the heretics and turning them over to the dottari for their crimes grants +1 Popularity Point
    • Breaking the charm on the majority of the heretics and getting them to switch sides grants the PCs +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point.
    • Capturing or otherwise getting rid of the nightmares grants +1 Victory Point as Eccardian is denied their use in his plans.

    SLAVE BARGE: Oh. This one is all good. I'd suggest considering the portions of Erinyes to be merely a suggestion, and that you should feel free to upsize if your PCs have big appetites (for destruction).

    Personally, I went with 8 Erinyes (CR14) and a 'crew' of twenty nobles - many of whom were providing entertainment instead of moving the barge. The fact that they can fly can have a dramatic effect on the difficulty of the encounter, however, so be cautious if your PCs aren't good at killing things at range (or some poor sod went for all the fire spells).

    Outcomes:

    • Slave barge stopped: +1 Popularity Point
    • Erinyes slain: +1 Victory Point
    • Saving the lives of the nobles on the barge: +1 Popularity Point
    • Getting the nobles organized and escorted to their homes requires 2 Fame Points but grants +1 Popularity Points

    HELLISH CAVALRY: Rather than killing random nobles one at a time with their glaives, I ran a scenario where the hellish cavalry have a pack of a dozen or so Hellhounds who they went "hunting" with; Their game was to smash into some of the houses to flush people into the streets, and herd them together towards a main road - whereupon they announced the game: Whoever made it off the current island would get a bag of gold and freedom from Regicona. They then set the Hellhounds to chasing them while they and their Hellcats blocked alleys and passages to force the people to stick together - trampling those who fell, while the hellhounds killed any stragglers. To date, none had collected "the prize".

    And I had them playing just this game when the PCs ran into them.

    Outcomes:

    • Destroying the Hellish Cavalry: +1 Victory Point
    • Saving the citizens from the hellhounds grants +1 Popularity Point
    • (Once the Barge and Cavalry are destroyed) Rallying the nobles out of hiding to assist in the defence of the streets requires 3 Fame Points but grants +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Points

    ACTOR'S ENCORE: This will take a little bit to explain. In essence, I decided that Thesing needed a dramatic final showing, and what venue is more suitable than the Nightshade Theatre?

    Setup: When the Council started moving to enact their plan - one Thesing is debatably involved in - the actor made his move on the Nightshade Theatre, occupying it in the night along with his minions. No performances are being held at the Nightshade - nor have they for weeks - which makes it both central and also private… a perfect venue.

    When he feels it is time to raise the curtain, he will arrange his charmed audience into the stands (his minions have been kidnapping people for days) along with his vampiric mistresses, and then use mirage arcana to herald his triumphant return to the stage. The streets outside turn dark and forboding, with huge banners of Thesing praising his beauty, glory, talent and celebrating his triumphant return to the stage - at the Nightshade. The scene of his fall, but soon, the scene of his triumph. His declaration of the supporting cast (same names as the Sixfold Trial) is an open invitation to the heroes to come to him, and the comments about a "Packed Gallery" a threat of what will happen if they do not.

    Thesing doesn't want to just the PCs, he wants to humiliate, defile, destroy, upstage and crush them into dust, then stand victorious atop their corpses while his harem tear them into little pieces. And laugh. To this end, he has a full dozen lesser vampires ready to dominate, paralyze or otherwise grab any who enter... but not the PCs. Oh no. They will be given scripts by the dominated doormen, and asked to read them before making their way backstage to don their costumes. Thesing, you see, wants to beat them his way. And if they don't play along, he'll kill people in the audience until they do.

    Calseinica Nymmis: If the PCs have kept in contact with her, have her name be on the banners as well - a cue for the PCs to ask her to come along. Otherwise, Thesing will have abducted and dominated her - but not turned her into a vampire, as he has an entirely different use for her in his performance - namely the female lead, "Deliana", who is scripted to die.

    The Play is the Thing: Thesing arranges his vampires (all attractive women, generally bard, rogue or sorcerer 6) such that six are amid the audience, two are backstage crew and four are supporting cast. The six amid the audience will hide among the 250-strong crowd (Stealth +20), and lurk there until either Thesing orders them to act, or the PCs break character or otherwise fail to play along - at which point they'll each kill one of the members of the audience and find new hiding spots. The audience is dominated and largely won't won't notice.

    Thesing has arranged for a version (by his own hand) of the Egorian play, Dance of Obsidian Butterflies, a five-act piece following the rivalry between two brothers for the love of a woman, culminating in tragedy and death.

    The PCs are already cast; Whoever played Larazod is playing "Krenis", the younger brother and villain of the play; Drovalid is cast as Krenis' near-silent thuggish henchman; Dentris is cast as Krenis' demonologist advisor, while Tybain is the comic relief footman (think Baldrick from Blackadder). While the play is a "classic" the writing on this piece is terrible, petty and cliched to the point of absurdity, so it isn't really any loss that the PCs are rushed backstage and given little time to read the script - and if they try to follow it verbatim they suffer a -5 penalty to Perform (act) checks to do so. Thesing has (absurd) costumes out, but a DC30 Diplomacy check will convince the vampire stage hands to allow the PCs to pick their own from the Nightshade's expansive collection, which invariably gives a +2 circumstance bonus to Perform (act) checks.

    Thesing himself is playing the older brother, "Maltus" and hero of the play, while Calseinica is cast as "Deliana", the woman for whom the two brothers compete. If she arrives of her own free will, he will dominate her the first chance he gets.

    For The Audience: While the PCs may be inclined to just start attacking Thesing on sight, there are several reasons not to - the first is the fact that there are a half-dozen vampires amid the charmed audience who will start killing the audience if they do.

    The second is the audience themselves - charmed and convinced it is all just a play, their favour is an uplifting thing, and their scorn terrible to behold. During the performance of the play, the PCs and Thesing will be actively competing for the favour of the audience, for when combat starts (scripted for Act 5), they will cheer, or jeer, accordingly, shifting the tides of the battle one way or the other. The ways in which Favour are gained are discussed in the Dance of Obsidian Butterflies, as it varies with each Act.

    Spending Favour is a swift action on the character's turn, or an immediate action when not on the character's turn, and each PC (and Thesing) has their own pool of Favour to spend.

    • Uplifting Cheers! (1 Favour): Gain the effects of haste for 1 round.
    • Redoubled Effort (1 Favour): Reroll any one d20, taking the second result.
    • ENCORE! (2 Favour): Take a second turn, at an initiative count 20 less than your first turn.
    • Hail of Abuse! (1 Favour): Inspire the audience to pelt a target with debris and rubbish, acting as a ranged attack at +8 to hit for 8d6 bludgeoning damage.
    • Resounding Applause! (1 Favour): Gain a d10, which can be added to any attack, damage, saving throw or skill check within the next minute. You cannot have more than one of these.
    • Boo and Hiss! (1 Favour): Inspire the audience to Boo and Hiss! at a target, causing them to reduce any one attack roll, damage roll, saving throw or skill check by 1d10.
    • Get Off the Stage! (1 Favour): Target is slowed on their next turn (DC20 Will save negates).

    Dance of Obsidian Butterflies: The play itself is arranged into five acts, each with corresponding checks to make.

    • All Acts: All PCs and Thesing must make Perform (act) checks, gaining 1 Favour if they make a DC20, and an additional Favour if they score the highest. Additionally, if any PC comes up with a witty line, award them a bonus Favour (no more than one per Act). Additionally, any PC that significantly breaks character loses 1 Favour.
    • ACT 1: In this act, the two bothers are introduced and pledge their love of Deliana before the world, while Krenis' minions caper in the background. "Krenis" and "Maltus" may choose either Bluff, Diplomacy or Intimidate and make opposed rolls (Thesing uses Diplomacy) - whoever wins gains 1 additional Favour.
    • ACT 2: In this act, Deliana is introduced in a grand ball, where the brothers compete on the dance floor. In this, Krenis and Maltus make opposed Perform (dance) checks, with the winner gaining 1 additional Favour.
    • ACT 3: In this act, the two brothers make their cases to Deliana's family (all vampires), citing their deeds and pledging their devotion to Deliana to win over the family's support (the Vampires are commanded to favour Thesing, but can be swayed into being less-than-convincing if the PC playing Krenis beats him on the acting check). In this, the PC playing Krenis can pick Diplomacy or Bluff and make an opposed check against Thesing (who uses DIplomacy), with whoever wins gaining an additional Favour.
    • ACT 4: The Slaughter of Sisters - this is where Deliana's family announce that, despite Krenis' claims, they feel that his dark reputation is no place for their beloved Deliana, and they shall give her hand to Maltus. Enter Krenis and his goons, who give their lines (involving "I shall not be stopped" and such) before taking their blades to the family, slaughtering them all. In this, the PCs blades are real (and their own) and the four Vampire "actors" are fighting for real. If the PCs all are still standing once the vampires are dispatched (retreating to their coffins) they all gain 1 Favour. Thesing will enter Krenis departs to give a soliloquy about the tragedy of all it all, and when he discovers Krenis' dagger at the scene, rushes off to confront his brother and warn Deliana.
    • ACT 5: Battle of Brothers - In this act Maltus confronts Krenis about the murder of Deliana's family, who (normally would be shocked and rush to Maltus but be stabbed in the back by Krenis... but the script has been revised by Thesing) draws blade and attacks the PCs. By now, Thesing will have dominated Calseinica, and her attacks will be real. Regardless of how they subdue her (though they lose 1 Popularity Point if they actually kill her), once she falls Maltus will draw blade, and the fight begins....

    Going Hamlet On Us: By the script, Krenis and his cronies are supposed to die to Maltus' righteous blade, leaving him tragically alone - the sole survivor. But, that problably won't happen, and frankly the audience doesn't care what the script says - Bring on the Fight!

    Thesing is prideful, spiteful and petty. He won't surrender, but once he gets below half hitpoints he will order his two backstage beauties to attack the PCs, and when he gets below a quarter hitpoints (or if you feel the fight is going too well for the PCs) he will shriek at the vampires in the audience to "Just kill them all! None must live who have seen this!" creating an extra challenge for the PCs.

    That said, they should hopefully have collected a bunch of Favour, and can tip the odds into their favour (Pun intentional) - see the "For the Audience" section.

    Outcomes:

    • Defeating Thesing yields +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point
    • Defeating Thesing without breaking character yields an additional +2 Popularity Points
    • Destroying Thesing's vampiric spawn (well, they're vampires, but he spawned them) yields +1 Victory Point as the city is spared their bloodthirsty vengeance.
    • Keeping casualties among the audience to 18 or less grants an additional +1 Popularity Point

    SKARX'S PRISON: Rather than using an abandoned (and tiny) guardpost as a prison, I instead went with the scenario where Eccardian had approached and coerced Strikis into working with him (her writeup in Bastards of Erebus suits it) and she's posted most of the regidottari along the walls, watching gatehouses and generally not getting invovled in any of the unplesasantness going on on the island. With the Staviancara being half-empty, she ordered her soldiers to leave the dungeons beneath it empty and under no circumstances to go down there - mostly because that's where Skarx and her prisoners now are.

    I put in a canal-port with gatehouse (including 2 gates an 3 portcullises) for direct access to the dungeons to bring prisoners in without going through the Staviancara proper, and it's this that Skarx and her croninies have been using.

    Up topside, I ran a different scenario - although about 1-in-3 of the regidottari are corrupt scumbags (by this point), about 2-in-3 aren't, and had Strikis paid attention (or gave a damn about her troops - or even noticed the fact they have lives and opinions), she'd have assigned the more atruistic ones away from the Staviancara... but she doesn't so she didn't, so most of the soldiers around her are growing progressively more frustated with the current situation, and her abrasive and questionable behaviour.

    Additionally, I named her two Majors:

    • Komana Lorialn (NG female Taldan human Inquisitor 6), who is there because "someone needs to actually do the work of the regidottari", and was slapped down by Iltus when she complained to him directly about her commander.
    • Solentus Chillarth (LE male Chelish human cleric of Asmodeus 6), who is there as a Council mole within the organization, and chiefly the one puppeteering Strikis and the regidottari.

    In addition to those three, I had (but this can be changed easily enough) 3 lieutenants (CR3) and 30 dottari (CR1/2) in the Staviancara, where the rest of the regidottari (6 captains, 27 lieutnants and 150 dottari) are stationed elsewhere or off-duty.

    If the PCs can get into the dungeons first (e.g. via the canal) they can start with Skarx and work up, or they can start off by tackling the Regidottari and work down. There are several ways of handling it. The more elegant with the regidottari is trying to get some of them on side in deposing their commander, Lhiana Strikis.

    Also: Yes, Skarx knows where Chammady is - the Qatada Nessudidia - and that she's baby-sitting a portal to hell... and she's still willing to sell out Chammady in return for her life (the PCs don't need to let her go - but she is difficult to keep imprisoned). Oh, and I'd recommend putting someone interesting in the cells - Kajen Tilernos, for example (Sascar's husband and a Paladin of Iomedae).

    Outcomes:

    • Durotas Lhiana Strikis overthrown: +1 Victory point
    • For 2 Fame Points and an appropriate Diplomacy check, Major Lorialn can be persuaded to lead a coup against her commander, granting +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point in addition to the above.
    • Rescuing the prisoners from the cells grants +1 Victory Point and +1 Popularity Point as they're all important people Eccardian wanted to keep out of the way, but alive.
    • If Skarx is captured, she'll spill the beans on Chammady's location. For 1 Fame Point the PCs can bring in extra resources to ensure she's utterly incapable of escape, granting +1 Popularity Point. Otherwise she'll escape and be at Eccardian's side for the final encounter (assuming she lives).


    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Part 7 - The Assassin's Pet:

    Premise: I really couldn't stomach the published version of this section - in part because I found the scenario of her (co-leader of the most powerful noble family in the city) shacking up with a social pariah of a minor noble, whom she despises, so he can be her sugar-daddy to be... distasteful. And in part because the conceit of "The well of many worlds just 'happens' to open to Erebus in his basement" to be just a bit much to swallow. So I did something completely different.

    Character Development Notes: Given that there is the option of turning Chammady on her brother, and she is the one the PCs get to meet, I allowed the PCs the chance to interact with her significantly more than the Adventure Path normally allows - and although she is devoted to her brother, I had her be a somewhat more reluctant participant in the scheme of things. At this point - babysitting a portal to hell in a bloodstained dungeon - she is finding her resolve to support her brother already waivering as while she is still Neutral Evil, this is beyond merely "evil" and into "Diabolical", which she isn't quite there yet. Ultimately, I felt that having her be irredeemably evil cheapened the 'victory' in gaining her assistance against Eccardian, so I had her be... evil, but not "OPEN THE GATES OF HELL MWA HAHAHAHAH" Evil.

    So instead, I had Vuiper Ghival be a priest of Asmodeus who siezed power within the church after Archpriest Despada died (he sat on the Council), and who is allied with Eccardian. I personally had him broker a deal with Eccardian for Chammady's hand in marriage (Which Chammady isn't aware of) and the elevation of House Ghival to be one of the Great Houses though both this alliance and the acquisition of the assets of noble families destroyed in the coup. In order to facilitate Eccardian's plan, he received the various captives Eccardian was sending him (the Missing Workers event earlier) and arranged for a ritual sacrifice to attune the dungeons beneath the Qatada Nessudidia to Erebus, forcing the well of many worlds to open a portal to that level of Hell specifically if used upon the massive pentagonal altar in the dungeon.

    Chammady was there to guard the well, but also to keep her out of sight while Eccardian worked his part of the "Plan", and had a curtained off section of the dungeon where she rested (with enough drapery and rugs to hide the bloodstained stone), though she hadn't been sleeping overly much with the open gate to hell on the other side of the curtains. Indeed, I had a cadre of a half-dozen imps hanging out with her using suggestion to keep her from closing it - which she otherwise would try to do (several times a day). I ran her as being ... well, not remotely innocent, but in way over her head at this point, as devils continued to climb out of the well of many worlds, and a small force of bearded devils and erinyes hung around to help guard it, with the erinyes delighting in playing the role of "welcomers", describing in gory detail exactly what the devils needed to do, and what 'diversions' there were to be had until then.

    In essence, Chammady is still a villain, but she's one whom has limits to what she will do and is being pushed beyond them, which ultimately casts her in a more sympathetic light, and makes the prospect of trying to use the contract to convince her to turn on her brother both more likely, and more satisfying (well, we found it so, anyway).

    QATADA NESSUDIDIA: The Qatada Nessudidia is one of two methods to reach the dungeons where the well of many worlds and Chammady are located. Vuiper and Eccardian's recent purge of the temple of those who refused to tow the line with Vuiper's new edicts has substantially reduced their numbers, but they will, never the less, put up a good defense.

    I used a combination of the following:

    • Vuiper Ghival (CR14; LE male human rogue 5 / cleric of Asmodeus 10)
    • Numerous glyphs of warding (CL10)
    • (7) Asmodean Priests (CR7; LE male human cleric of Asmodeus 8)
    • (8) Asmodean Templar (CR5; LE male human fighter 6)
    • (15) Asmodean Acolyte (CR3; LE male human cleric of Asmodeus 4)

    While Vuiper is generally a vile and reprehensible dude, most of the clergy are not as bad, and mostly just keeping their heads down to avoid them getting lopped off by the new archpriest. If badly wounded, they'll attempt to flee or surrender, and if Vuiper is defeated, the remaining forces will surrender on mass.

    SACERO SEWERS: An alternative route is to go via the sewers from the outlet where the captives had previously been taken during the Missing Workers event. There are a few ways to go about this, from the randomly rolled approach of Bastards of Erebus to a more traditional maze map. I'd suggest including at least 3-5 traps and two secret passages on the way, however.

    ASSASSIN'S ABODE: Within the bloodstained dungeons, Chammady is most likely in her curtained "santuary", while a dozen bearded devils and 3 erinyes stand guard over the portal itself, while a half-dozen imps hang around Chammady. If the PCs charge in screaming, or attempt to head straight for the well of many worlds, Chammady will join in the fight, making it significantly more dangerous. If they attempt to parley with her (noting they'll still be fighting the devils), she'll likely hold back and listen for a time - though the imps will start using suggestion to try to get her to attack the PCs after a round or two.

    Once the devils are defeated, Chammady will seek to parley if she isn't already (she knows how potent erinyes are, and has no desire to be in a fight to the death while badly outnumbered), from here she can be captured, or shown the infernal contract. Her preference is to go with the PCs and confront her brother (which is also pretty much mandatory for any potential redemption), though she can be convinced (with difficulty) or forced to stay out of it.

    Either way, she'll give the location for the final battle - the Arodenama.

    Outcomes:

    • Closing the well of many worlds grants +1 Victory Point
    • Defeating Chammady or convincing her to surrender the details of her and her brother's plans gives +1 Victory Point
    • (Option) Securing Chammady's assistance in the final battle against her brother grants the PCs +1 Victory Point, as not only is she very capable, but she has some influence over Eccardian's army.
    • (Option) Imprisoning her or otherwise making sure she stays out of the fight instead gives the PCs +2 Popularity Points, as the Children of Westcrown's credibility is improved by not having a former-villain alongside.
    • Bringing Vuiper Ghival (mass murderer and general threat) to justice gives +1 Victory Point
    • Sparing the lives of the clergy and temple guard will give +1 Popularity Point as the worship of Asmodeus has become part of the city's culture over the last century.
    • -> (if spared) For 2 Fame Points the remaining clergy will sever all ties to the Council of Thieves and serve as a bastion of Law (albeit a tad harsh), granting +1 Popularity Point to the PCs.

    Part 8 - The Vacant Throne:

    Premise: While the concepts pitched in the published adventure are interesting... I personally want both the family drama and epic finale. The finale is commonly regarded as a bit of an anticlimax (especially if you go with Chammady)... so let's spice it up, shall we?

    First off... let's scrap the previous setup whereby getting Chammady onside manages to dodge the Tears of Fire event... because that's too awesome to skip.

    While on the topic of scrapping... if we could use stone shape on the Arodenama or Sanqatada Cinqarda and deface them so easily, they wouldn't still bear there - so let's scrap the entire "tunnel through Aroden" thing too, though we need to make some adjustments to Eccardian's lair to suit: easist to give him a magic item with 1/day mage's magnificent mansion (say a ring, which must be worn to sustain the mansion, which would have a market value ~20,000gp). He just parks the invisible door atop Aroden's head, behind his crown and steps out every so often to survey the city.

    LEVELS AND STATISTICS: While I appreciate the desire to make Eccardian all swash and buckle... he is... well... more of a frustrating foe than a dangerous one, as he focuses almost exclusively on defence (including SR26), and is relying on the bleed damage from his rapier of puncturing and sneak attack to actually pose any threat to the PCs. His sidekick, Melvangian, is actually the much bigger threat (partially because I think his CR is 1-3 points less than it should be), which is a little dissapointing. I'd suggest using the following:

    • Eccardian Drovenge: Unchained Rogue 3, Magus 11 (hexcrafter, bladebound, kensai). Ditch the rapier of puncturing and instead give him a headband of Int+4 and change the belt to +4 to Dex and Con.
    • Melvangian: Consider ditching his magic items and raising his CR by 1. He's currently rather obnoxious
    • Chammady Drovenge: Consider making her a Bard 11, Assassin 3 (with Dervish Dance and Arcane Strike) - of the two, she is intended to be the grace and guile to Eccardian's iron fist... and Ranger really doesn't 'feel' right to me, and makes combat very wonky, as she varies in power dramatically depending on what she's fighting.

    TEARS OF FIRE: As the PCs (with or without Chammady) arrive, Eccardian will be standing atop the Arodenama and address them (using ghost sound so his voice booms across the region - the Golden Scion must be dramatic, after all), challenging and attempting to denounce their actions. This is a chance to roleplay out Eccardian as the PCs approach. If they're charging in (or flying), you might need to cut it short, but otherwise when the talking is done he will have his imps activate the two customized decanters of endless water (which make oil instead) that are lodged in the corner of Aroden's eyes, and ignite the oil that pours forth, giving the signal for the armies to converge.

    From here, the army of thieves and devils will emerge, arriving progressively over the course of several rounds (don't have a long delay - just have them arrive in a stream rather than all at once). As an alternative to the army proposed in the published AP, I'd suggest the following:

    Council Army:

    • Any named living characters who escaped (e.g. Narsius, Skarx etc)
    • 6 Captains (CR10), plus any survivors
    • 20 Lieutenants (CR6)
    • 80 Agents (CR3)
    • 300 Soldiers (CR1)
    • Any surviving Heretics
    • Any surviving Nightmares (ridden by hellknights or captains)
    • (If condottari not cleaned up): 1 Major (CR5), 12 Lieutenants (CR3), 60 Dottari (CR1/2)
    • (If regidottari not cleaned up): 1 Major (CR5), 12 Lieutenants (CR3), 60 Dottari (CR1/2)

    Devil Army:

    • 4 Barbed Devils plus any survivors
    • 6 Erinyes, plus any survivors
    • 30 Bearded Devils, plus any survivors
    • 40 Hellhounds, plus any survivors from Noble Lure
    • 80 Lemures
    • Rustachas and his zombies (unless defeated)
    • Palaveen and his undead (unless defeated)

    This is, of course, an obscene amount of things to need to fight... but that's why the PCs don't need to fight it all - the Battle for the Arodenama is intended more as a backdrop to the PCs fight against Eccardian and his choice allies, as the PCs allies will also see the Tears of Fire and come running in.

    THE CAVALRY: The following forces will come to aid the PCs against the otherwise overwhelming numbers of the combined Council and Devil armies:

    • Children of Westcrown: All recruited and active NPCs
    • Chammady Drovenge (if with the PCs)
    • Constructs: Any golems or constructs the PCs had made, plus Rolan and all of his creations if he was cured of his madness.
    • Hellknights: Paralictor Gonville Chard and all surviving loyalist hellknights, as long as Chard is alive and the Hellknights are allied with the PCs.
    • Dottari: Durotas Saria Roccin, as long as the PCs have a good rapport with her, will bring in 12 Lieutenants and 60 dottari
    • Duxotar: As long as a new Duxotar is appointed, he will bring in 12 lieutenants and 100 dottari personally.
    • Rundottari: Durotas Arik Tuornos, as long as a new Duxotar is appointed, and the undead of Cader are defeated, he'll bring in 12 Lieutenants and 60 dottari.
    • Condottari: As long as a new Duxotar is appointed and the PCs peacefully end the alliance with the Council (by talking Casiara down or staging a coup), then either Casiara or a Major will lead 12 Lieutenats and 60 dottari in.
    • Regidottari: As long as a new Duxotar is appointed and the PCs help overthrow Strikis and install a new commander (i.e. don't go on a murder spree and then leave them to flounder) Major Komana will bring in 8 Lieutenants and 40 dottari.
    • House Grulios: If the PCs rescued the Grulios family from Walcourt and maintained good relations, Asad will personally lead a retinue of 10 knights (fighter 6) and 50 men at arms (CR1). If Rhialana and/or Kalder survive, they will be with him.
    • House Khollarix: If the PCs rescued the Khollarix family from Joriavah in Book 5 and maintained good relations, then Jurian Khollarix will personally lead 8 Knights (fighter 6) and 40 men at arms (CR1). If Shanwen (Cleric 10 by now) is alive, he will lead his 10 seasoned Armigers (CR3) alongside the Khollarix forces.
    • House Tilernos: If the PCs rescued Kajen Tilernos (and any other family members) from the Staviancara, he will lead a force of 20 Griffon-mounted knights (Fighter 6) to assist.
    • House Rosala: If the rally was saved in the Noble Lure event, Armon Rosala will lead a force of 10 knights and 50 men at arms.
    • Other Nobles: Any other nobles the PCs have assisted and are on good terms with (e.g. Mhartis) will bring in a force of 4 Knights and 20 men-at-arms each.
    • Others: Anyone else the PCs have recruited or made alliances with who could feasibly join in.

    Obviously, the above stacks up to a LOT OF DUDES, which is why we're not rolling dice for them (because we're sane) but instead just describing the battle going on in the background. They'll also take some time to all get to the fight, so despite potentially superior numbers it will be a much closer fight than one might otherwise expect.

    BATTLE RESOLUTION: Rather than roll dice for the background fight, the outcome largely depends on the number of Victory Points gained to date (NB: this event doesn't give Victory points, just adjucate what they do.):

    • 10 VP or less - Obliterated: Eccardian might die, but the Children of Westcrown and their allies are wiped out by the combined army of devils and Council agents (95% casualties).
    • 11 - 20VP - Defeat: The Children of Westcrown and their allies were forced to retreat, but are still standing, albeit barely. The fight has decimated their numbers (75% casualties)
    • 21 - 30VP - Bloody Standstill: The Children of Westcrown gave as good as they got, and despite heavy casualties remain standing at the end (50% casualties).
    • 31 - 40VP - Bloody Victory: Despite losses, the Children of Westcrown and their allies triumphed over the massed army of devils and Council agents. (25% casualties)
    • 41-50VP - Victory: In spite of the horror they faced, the Children of Westcrown and their allies stood fast in the face of danger and triumphed, with only light casualties when the dust settled (10% casualties)
    • 51VP+ - Triumphant Victory: The combined forces of justice poured into the Arodenama - relieving the wounded and evacuating the fallen as the battle raged on, resulting in only 5% casualties

    Feel free to give "effective VP" for the purposes of the battle resolution if the PCs make considerable efforts to combat the enemy armies as a whole - e.g. throwing fireballs at the Council army, at your discretion.

    Concluding the Adventure:

    As mentioned previously, I used a heavily revised version of the Fame system to work out the consequences of the adventure - It's in "Heroism, Fame and Consequences" as this is already waaay too long and I don't want to repeat it - but suffice to say that, if the PCs played their cards right, getting the "Optimal" ending is very possible, but requires the PCs to really put the effort in.

    Generally speaking, the "Maximum" available Fame is around 52 going into Book 6, which can result in a Victory Point score above 50 and a Popularity in excess of 120 - well beyond what is needed for the optimal result. A more modest performance, but honest attempt, will likely see the PCs easily reaching the second highest reward and possibly hitting the highest. Getting the worst results would take active negligence or maliciousness on the part of the PCs, but is included for completeness.


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    ADDENDUM - AKA UNECESSARY RAMBLING
    Westcrown Commentary

    Sewers and Canals:

    Westcrown is heavily inspired by Venice - that much is obvious - but with such cities you are inevitably faced with a choice: Extensive sewers or extensive canals. You can't have both unless you have sewers that defy gravity, which most cities generally won't.

    In Westcrown they chose canals for the island and labyrinthine sewers for the peninsula, which is a means of 'getting both', but does so with a caveat; All the commentary about the adels and canal traffic then only applies to the island, which is the domain of the rich and powerful only, and has virtually no place in the campaign.

    Personally, I would be more inclined to have an extensive canal network through Parego Spera (all land south of the canaroden) and a sewer system only in Parego Dospera, which is built on higher ground, though that would change Bastards of Erebus somewhat.

    Why Build on Mudflats?:

    A question that may come up is why Westcrown was build where it was at all... and the answer is simple: Defence.

    Cities are massive investments and concentrations of wealth, and (especially in Europe) were generally built where they could be defended. Such is likely to be the case with Westcrown; the island and peninsula are imminently defensible from the land, and as such the last portions of the city to be built would be those of Crua and Cader, as they were more exposed, even if it was easier to build on higher ground.

    City Size:

    Generally speaking, medieval cities ran around 40,000 people per square mile - or about 60 people per acre, and by that population one would expect Westcrown to be around 3 square miles. However, the city has vast amounts of abandoned property and ruins, hence my suggestion to double the size to 6 square miles.

    Of course, by proportion to the mainland, the island is HUGE, which suggests that either the city has a disproportionate amount of noble and administration buildings (viable as it was the seat of the empire), or those buildings are really spread out (also viable, the ground is horrible). Generally one expects most of a city to be non-noble residential or industrial buildings, making the island seem a bit odd.

    Commentary from My Game

    Level Progression:

    It is possible to run the Council of Thieves as intended, and grant the PCs 2 levels per book, however I found with all the additional content I was piling in that it felt... well... a bit miserly to do so. Given I was making heavy alterations already, it wasn't much work to actually expand the level progression out - so I wound up with the following (it's not very even because I was putting a lot of content in at the start of Books 3 and 4... and then massively expanded book 6):
    • Book 1: 1st to 4th
    • Book 2: 4th to 6th
    • Book 3: 6th to 9th
    • Book 4: 9th to 12th
    • Book 5: 12th to 15th
    • Book 6: 15th to 22nd (yes, really. No I didn't use the 3.0 abomination).

      Noting that the above is a bit ad-hoc, where (when) I run it again, I'll likely aim for around 3-4 levels per book to finish up at 20th, though some of that will come in to slotting in the occassional module between the main books.

    Converting to 5th Edition:

    In some ways, the Council of Thieves actually works better in 5th edition than it does in Pathfinder - the reason for this is that the adventure path makes very heavy use of large numbers of low CR things, to the point where even in the last book a lot of encounters were often mostly CR 1 and 3 NPCs who in Pathfinder are... not exactly threatening. In 5th edition, because of the bounded accuracy, even a CR 1 NPC poses a legitimate (if small) threat to a PC, because they can hit, and they can deal damage, and because, generally, in 5th edition monsters and NPCs have WAY more hitpoints than in Pathfinder, despite the lower PC damage.

    Ultimately though, converting to 5th edition is a lot more work than you might think, as not only is creature and encounter design completely different, but so is level progression - 5th edition is designed to get people to 3rd level quickly, then slow advancement so most of the game is between 3rd and 12th level, but puts its foot on the gas thereafter to speed people along to 20th. This is due to the expectation that most people want to play in the 3-12 band, or hit 20th as soon as possible.

    So on the whole, it works well, but you'll find that direct conversion of Pathfinder CR to 5E CR really won't work too well - especially as what the two games consider to be a "moderate challenge" is radically different.

    As some general rules:
    [list]

  • Shoot for a 5E CR about 2 less than the Pathfinder one, and you'll be closer to the mark, noting that there is no conversion of class levels to CR in 5E.
  • Ignore 5E XP charts and level based on milestones, and use PF medium XP to determine how much content you need to add, noting the above "modifier" to CR between editions.
  • Diabolism Ahoy!
    This was mostly inspired by the Devildrome, but while I'd love to flesh out a good pile of devils... frankly I've clocked over 110 pages on this draft and my wife will kill me if this goes on much longer. So... in summary (forgive the appalling names):

    Summon Monster:

    • I: Affronter Devil (reskinned CR 1/3 orc), Swarmer Devil (reskinned CR 1/3 ratfolk)
    • II: Scavenger Devil (reskinned CR1 diatryma axe beak), Render Devil (reskinned CR1 dire corby), Scaled Devil (reskinned CR1 lizardfolk)
    • III: Hellboar (reskinned CR2 boar), Hellbat (reskinned CR2 dire bat), Avernesian Hound (reskinned CR2 worg), Infernal Armiger (reskinned CR2 Guardian Phantom Armor)
    • IV: Hellcharger (reskinned CR4 rhino), Styx Drake (reskinned CR3 river drake), Hellborer (reskinned CR3 ankheg)

    It's not much, but it should be enough to mix up the competition a little :)


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    And looking at it now posted, it doesn't look like over 70,000 words, does it? Spoiler tags are great... though if I'd been able to figure out how to do nested spoiler tags, that would have been convenient. Ah well.

    Time to prepare dinner for the ravenous gobl... toddler. That's what I meant to say. Yes.


    Dotting for great justice.
    Thank you for the immense amount of effort you've poured into this.

    I've had my own changes to the storyline of CoT which seem to echo the same premise: mafia act as mafia.
    Have you explored how to handle one of the biggest complains of the AP,
    namely that Janiven/Arael's introduction proclamation was to rid the city of House Thrune?
    I do recall several campaigns building on that premise, but found support for it in the AP sorely lacking.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    DM Shade wrote:

    Dotting for great justice.

    Thank you for the immense amount of effort you've poured into this.

    Happy to :)

    DM Shade wrote:

    Have you explored how to handle one of the biggest complains of the AP,

    namely that Janiven/Arael's introduction proclamation was to rid the city of House Thrune?
    I do recall several campaigns building on that premise, but found support for it in the AP sorely lacking.

    Yeah. Janiven's opening speech is the one thing that really needs changing when bringing Bastards of Erebus to the table. Given the history of Cheliax and Westcrown, and people's love of rebellions against oppressive regimes (*cough*Star Wars*cough*) it is easy to fall in love with the idea of rebelling against Thrune.... But that's not what Council of Thieves is about, nor is it actually practical.

    Kintargo is on the far side of a mountain range from the heartlands of Cheliax and is, as such, isolated and comparatively remote and where Thrune's grip is quite light - making it actually ideal as a location to secede from Thrune's grip.

    Westcrown? Not so much. With no natural barriers and the heartland needed to feed its population as well as Egorian's it would be a return to civil war, and either crushed instantly or a long, bloody and destructive affair - much like the last civil war.

    I went with something like the following for Janiven's speech:

      "Again, thank you for agreeing to meet with me here. I have approached each of you for a singular reason — Westcrown is suffering. I love my city, and I would not wish a return to the civil wars that almost destroyed it 70 years ago, but this peace has been paid for in the coinage of fear and prayers to Hell. Fear should not be an expected part of life, and yet it haunts the streets of our city each night.

      Our leaders are cowed by Thrune's might and coin, our citizens huddle in their homes while monsters stalk the streets at night, our children forget what it is to be Wiscrani - what it is to be a real Chelaxian, rather than the mockery Egorian makes of our culture. Our city, our people, need help. They need people of strength and courage to make a stand against the beasts of the night, to remind them of their proud heritage as the heart of Chelaxian culture, and to inspire them to emerge from hiding and stand proudly as Wiscrani.

      I came to you, because I believe you are the kind of people Westcrown needs, and I would ask you to join me and my comrades in taking back the night, and letting our people live without fear. Will you join me, and stand as role models and inspiration for the people of Westcrown?"

    There are dozens of ways of pitching the Adventure Path, but the main things are:

    • Don't mention overthrowing Thrune, because it isn't happening, and there's no need to mislead the players.
    • Focus on the shadow beasts, as the immediate threat.
    • Focus on it being as much a cultural revival as anything else. Westcrown is the heart of what is the pre-Thrune culture of Cheliax.
    • Focus on the PCs being role models to inspire the people of Westcrown.


    Very much enjoyed your posts. Considering the large sums the PCs can be spending to improve their chances in book 6(since it is very possible that not every mission is a success.) Have you figured out if they would indeed be falling behind in wealth with the suggestions for treasure reduction in Walcourt? Restorations(1000k each),Resurrections(For vampire brides and dead nobles dings in at perhaps 40K base if they want the fame points for the harem),outfitting,bribes(for when that fame check is lacking) will really take a bite out of WBL and good tactics can help, but if your weapon bounces off a devil due to lack of Holy it might turn into Yakkity-Sax as the party finds out how hard it is to run away from something that can teleport at will.

    Still great job. Should be pinned.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    MannyGoblin wrote:
    Very much enjoyed your posts. Considering the large sums the PCs can be spending to improve their chances in book 6(since it is very possible that not every mission is a success.) Have you figured out if they would indeed be falling behind in wealth with the suggestions for treasure reduction in Walcourt? Restorations(1000k each),Resurrections(For vampire brides and dead nobles dings in at perhaps 40K base if they want the fame points for the harem),outfitting,bribes(for when that fame check is lacking) will really take a bite out of WBL and

    Thanks! And a good question... which I'll try to answer:

    Books 1-2: The first two books have somewhat variable amounts of wealth, as a lot depends in Book 1 of what the GM does with the More Heroics and Into the Sewers, whereas in Book 2 a lot depends on what the players scored for the performance. In any case, the PCs are likely to enter into Book 3 at about the right WBL for 5th level characters - 10,500gp.

    Book 3: Normally we're shooting for about 52,000gp of wealth gain (split 4 ways), and What Lies in Dust has significantly more than that (188,500gp stuff with sale value of 95,900gp), and the even with suggestions it drops it to 138,000gp of stuff and a sale value of 70,700gp. So the PCs are likely still between 120% (i.e. 5000gp over) to 190% (i.e. 22,000gp over, each) of WBL, depending on how much they sell vs how much they use as-is. Assuming about the half-way mark, they each have an "extra" 10,000gp each on top of WBL.

    Book 4: (Mother of Flies) We're normally, for level 7 to 9 we'd need about 90,000gp to split the 4 ways to hit the expected WBL (not accounting for the extra from Book 3). This is also the first book where the topic of using raise dead and resurrection on NPCs comes in.

    By default, the book has 1,044,356gp of "stuff", with a sale value of 618,231gp, less 75,000gp of stolen goods to return for Fame Points. My overall commentary for this is for the GM discretion to rule, as even with the basic suggestions in the "Crunch", there is still 716,000gp of "stuff" with a 422,800gp sale value. Even if the PCs go for the absolute maximum expenditure of 1 scroll of raise dead (6,125gp) and thirteen (a dozen consorts plus Rhialana) scrolls of resurrection (12,275gp each, 159,575gp total), that's 165,700gp out of over 460,000gp they have over their WBL.

    I'd suggest that, if the PCs seemed interested in returning some of the people to life, to include a cache of such scrolls in the vault as a significant part of the loot (they're precious, so make sense being kept there), and trying to keep the rest of the loot to the 200,000gp to 300,000gp market value range - the PCs will still be well over their WBL, but not as grotesquely so as they would otherwise be.

    Book 5: (Infernal Syndrome) Here we expect 144,000gp of wealth gain (split 4 ways) for the PCs to get them up to 11th level WBL by the end. By default there is 428,900gp of "stuff" with a sale value of 243,200gp. Even chopping out the items suggested in the Crunch only drops this to around 365,000gp of stuff with 205,000gp sale value, giving the PCs an extra 15,000gp to 36,000gp extra (each), plus any surplus from Book 4.

    By the end of this book, their expected WBL is 82,000gp (11th level). By default, they'd have closer to 346,000gp (each), and even with the recommended reductions and expenditures on scrolls, they should be looking at 100,000gp to 150,000gp each.

    Book 6: Here again the wealth gain is (by default) substantially above the recommended WBL gain: Target for 11th to 13th is about 232,000gp (split 4 ways), but this book has 1,364,200gp of "stuff" with a sale value of 700,000gp - a lot of which is either consumables or in the last few encounters, however, so it's impact isn't as great.

    Options I included for expenditures of wealth include two raise dead (2 x 6,125gp) and two greater restoration (2 x 7,275gp) in the early stages, by which time the PCs should have accumulated at least 188,000gp (by default and by the Hellknight Siege). The commentary in the Walking Hunger event is one that is entirely optional, and mostly a question of whether the PCs have spare cash....

    ... which is a point of discussion on it's own. By default, Westcrown will pay at most 100,000gp for any one item (the Purchase Limit), but an item is only automatically available if it is equal to or less than the Base Value - in this case 16,000gp. Given the PCs have limited slots, they could well find themselves in a predicament by Book 6 of having a large amount of wealth and "unused" magic items for trade, but simply not be able to find more powerful items to spend their money on - even a ring of protection+3 (at 18,000gp) isn't available unless the GM says it is, thus restricting the extent by which wealth can correspond directly to PC power.

    In this, I would suggest GMs be fairly firm about such things, especially if they allow the PCs to have a fairly high wealth gain.

    MannyGoblin wrote:
    good tactics can help, but if your weapon bounces off a devil due to lack of Holy it might turn into Yakkity-Sax as the party finds out how hard it is to run away from something that can teleport at will

    Communal align weapon is a 3rd level Cleric / Inquisitor spell, and combined with Silversheen makes killing devils rather easy.


    Thanks for the reply


    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

    Wow. Nothing to add, really, just wanted to say this was pretty amazing. I'm running Curse of the Crimson Throne now, but I think I'll look back at Council of Thieves for the next round...


    Wow dude, this is an amazing breakdown of the AP. This is very similar to my take on Council of Thieves but expanded ten-fold. This is an extremely well written and thought out review and anyone interesting in running this AP should read what's posted above. Good job, and congratulations on finishing the AP!

    RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

    I am going to start running this AP in just a few weeks and have a feeling that this thread will be a huge help. Much thanks!


    I've been running two iterations of Council of Thieves over the course of about three years now (we had a kid, our buddy had a kid, people moved, etc.), and while *Oh MAN* I wish this had been available back when I'd started, it's awesome even now as I'm sending one group to Walcourt (which was TERRIBLE when I ran it as-is for my more-available players) and the other is wrapping up the early running-around portion of Book 6.

    I greatly appreciate the dissertation, and thanks to your wife and goblin toddler as well!

    Silver Crusade

    Thank you so much for putting all of this together! I'm getting ready to run Council of Thieves right now and I suspect I'll be using the work you've done very frequently.


    Rakshaka wrote:
    Wow dude, this is an amazing breakdown of the AP. This is very similar to my take on Council of Thieves but expanded ten-fold. This is an extremely well written and thought out review and anyone interesting in running this AP should read what's posted above. Good job, and congratulations on finishing the AP!

    Thanks! (Though in hindsight I may have gotten a little carried away <_<)

    @Manny, Kelleris, Ixxix, Alevanoff & Estri: Thanks & you're welcome!


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    DOT

    Thank you for sacrificing 40 hours of your life writing this excellent guide that will make 400 hours of my life better because you did.


    dot

    Your work is appreciated :)


    Amazing! Thanks for your hard work Raynulf! This will really lift my CoT game back up to the great story it is intended to be!

    Liberty's Edge

    This seems silly to even bring up given the magnitude of what you've accomplished here, but I have one small nitpick about your description of Westcrown's climate. I'm fairly certain the northern coast of the Inner Sea is supposed to be a Mediterranean zone, meaning that the summers are likely quite hot and dry, with most precipitation falling during the cooler half of the year. This kind of pattern is characteristic of western and southern Italy, including Rome, as well as most of California.

    Rainstorms wouldn't be all that unusual during the winter and early spring, but would be virtually unheard-of during the summer. The region is likely vulnerable to drought, and the level of the Adivian probably varies noticeably throughout the year, and the city would be vulnerable to flooding in the winter.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Gnoll Bard wrote:
    I'm fairly certain the northern coast of the Inner Sea is supposed to be a Mediterranean zone, meaning that the summers are likely quite hot and dry, with most precipitation falling during the cooler half of the year.

    The map of Golarion (though not to scale and as such a somewhat unreliable guide) suggests the Inner Sea is comparatively closer to the equatorial line than the Mediterranean is. We tried looking at some similar climates and figured that the climate of Venice was probably close to the mark, especially as it was clearly one of the inspirations behind Westcrown.

    You are correct that the city would be vulnerable to (flash) flooding from sources upriver, however I would also expect a lot of the city's floods to be tidal in nature. The guide to Westcrown claims the city is protected from the tides, but I don't know that this is actually possible given the layout. Unless the region can only be sailed to during a high tide (not very efficient for a port city), then king tides, heavy storms, and events that conspire to produce Venice's "acqua alta" are still likely to endanger the streets.

    All that musing aside though, if a Southern Italian climate better suits someone's conception of Westcrown, then break out the hot dry summers and wet winters! :D Better suited for olive farms, too.

    - Raynulf's wife and chief goblin-wrangler of the household

    Liberty's Edge

    I wonder how strong the comparison to Venice really is, considering that Westcrown is built next to and in the middle of a major river, whereas Venice is in a lagoon. The geography of the surrounding coastline is almost nothing at all like the region around Venice either, and the relative narrowness of the Adriatic probably contributes to the effect of the tides at its northern edge. Maybe something like New York would be a more cogent parallel, in terms of the effect of tides and the like (the climate would obviously be drastically different).

    Scarab Sages

    Most excellent, and thank you!

    My group is about done with Jade Regent, and we have decided this will be the next AP to run.

    I get the lucky spot as GM, and will have at least 4, and maybe a 5th player.

    I tend to run "as is" and let the chips fall where they may, but I really enjoyed your suggestions on how to change things up.

    Bueno, mi amigo and bon travail, mon ami!


    Raynulf wrote:

    5) CASTING BREATH OF LIFE ON WESTCROWN

    Westcrown is one of the largest cities of the Inner Sea region, but also one of the least detailed, making it something of a challenge to really bring it to life. In a city of 114,000 where a chunk of the city is abandoned we should expect (from Medieval Demographics Made Easy and 3.5 DMG2);
    • About 6 square miles (3,648 acres) of city
    • About 22,800 buildings (6/acre), with about 70% occupied (apply equally).
    • About 6,840 residences (low and middle class)
    • About 1,140 administrative buildings (town halls, militia barracks, city centres, military installations etc)
    • About 1,140 entertainment buildings (taverns, gambling houses, brothels, playhouses, theatres etc)
    • About 2,280 industrial buildings (shipwrights, carpenters, masons, slaughterhouses, lumberyards, fishmongers etc)
    • About 1,140 noble buildings (mansions/Vaneos, Villas/Viras, townhouses etc)
    • About 2,280 shops (smiths, bakers, jewellers, grocers, alchemists, curio shops, etc)
    • About 3,420 slums (flophouses, shanties, shacks etc)
    • About 1,140 public works (temples, parks, graveyards, schools, libraries, public forums etc)
    • About 1,140 nearby farms (mostly occupied)
    • About 760 to 1,300 law enforcement officers

    For fun, what do you think the (rough) population breakdown is by district? Specifically:

    -Parego Regicona
    -Rego Sacero
    -Rego Pena
    -Rego Scripa
    -Rego Crua
    -Rego Cader


    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    rainzax wrote:

    For fun, what do you think the (rough) population breakdown is by district? Specifically:

    -Parego Regicona
    -Rego Sacero
    -Rego Pena
    -Rego Scripa
    -Rego Crua
    -Rego Cader

    I've been playing around with Westcrown ideas a little.

    A complete tangent:
    I game with a couple of different gaming circles, and while I am intending to run Council of Thieves again, and thus working on it, it is really best suited to a particular kind of player. Namely, players who enjoy drama and appreciate a bit of subtlety. While I have the good fortune of knowing a number of fellow gamers who meet that description... they're all booked out for the time being.

    The other major group I game with... Well, let's just say I'm looking to run Hell's Rebels, as that's more their cup of tea :P

    In terms of overall population: I was playing with these numbers;

    • Cader 4,200
    • Crua 30,200
    • Scripa 25,900
    • Sacero 13,100
    • Pena 5,800
    • Aurum 10,300
    • Corna 13,400
    • Laina 11,800

    In more detail (and noting this is employing a hefty amount of changes to the city, such as making Rego Pena the various floating wharves and artificial islands).... I had got this far.

    Apologies for dodgy English on what follows, most of it was typed on my phone on the bus rides to and from work

    PAREGO DOSPERA
    REGO CADER
    One of the newest sections of the city, it was built on the edge of the ridge that formed the peninsula as it curves around and meets the river again. An expansion, it is bordered by the old city wall - the Oberigan Wall - to the south-west, and the newer city wall and High Gate to the north. During the civil war, many of the residents - many of whom were avid loyalists to the old royal family - rebelled and found unrelentingly against Thrune even as they gained dominance in Cheliax. In a bold and ruthless move, Thrune ordered the guards to abandon the Rego and seal the gates - imprisoning the population within their own homes. As hunger and disease set in, the population was decimated and within a couple of months almost no living soul remained in the Rego… and thus a new name was given: Rego Cader, District of the Dead.

    For the last eighty years the city has used the rego as a massive prison - those convicted of crimes against the state are tossed (sometimes literally) over the walls, and promptly forgotten about. Although no offical wards exist within Cader, there are distinct boundaries and locations within the district:

    The Brambles (population 0): Once a garden, menagerie and botanical exhibit owned by the Leroung family, it was abandoned during the civil war, and as specimens got loose and the gardens became overgrown, it has been avoided by any who dwell in the prison district. The brambles presently sprawl over several streets and buildings beyond the original grounds, and all manner of strange beast is said to dwell.within, though in truth it is the yellow musk creepers that command the most fear.

    Necrotorium (population 0 living): The nestled against the city's north walls, the Necrotorium was the site of utter carnage during the end of the civil war, as thousands of trapped residents attempted to assault the city gates and escape the starvation and disease. The emaciated civilians stood.no chance against the guards, Hellknights and thrune officers that defended the location, though most of the deaths were from those trampled by the mob.

    GM Note: It is in this desolate realm that Sivanshin holds court, amid the splendor of an old Vira while his minions dwell amid the bones of the long dead.

    Tenth Hell (population 1,600): Occupying the region adjacent to the Oberigan Wall, Tenth Hell is so named by the guards for the prevalence of tieflings in the region. It I into this pit of violence and despair that new prisoners are cast, and many do not survive. A desparate land of gangs, murderers and cannibals, the more monstrous dangers keep further from the walls, yet this realm is no less dangerous. Of the many gangs here, the Bastards of Erebus are the most notable, and the most feared.

    The Cloister (population 2,600): For those who escape the Tenth Circle and survive the gauntlet between the Brambles and Necrotorium, the eastern stretch of Cader offers some degree of reprieve. Once the domain of gangs and criminals based out of an old temple of Shelyn, it was taken over by an enslaved tiefling woman named Vaxelle after she had a divine epiphany when dragged into the temple and manifested powers of the Eternal Rose. Over four decades she has forged a small community within the desolation of Rego Cader, offering reprieve from the torment in return for trust, love and hard work. Now, rooftop and old vaneo gardens produce food and a makeshift barricade and fortifications separate it from the boneyard and brambles.

    REGO CRUA
    Once a trade and industrial district, it is located at the top of the peninsula, with the Dusk Gate leading out to the roads beyond.

    Longshadow (population 7,300): Running alongside the Oberigan Wall, Longshadow is the most run down of the populated city wards, with squatters in every "abandoned" building, crime, vice and drugs. Within this destitute neighborhood is the Runaway Flagon, a tavern, drug den, cheap dive and meeting point for all manner of unsavoury sorts....

    Blacksalt (population 5,200): Running along the rivers edge, this is the industrial district, containing the foundry as well as dozens of the dirty industries. It is one of the most affluent of the Crua wards, but also polluted and unpleasant.

    The Stocks (population 8,100): Located in the middle of Crua, The Stocks is named after the most prominent feature - the slave market of the Pleatra. Also in the ward is Keep Dottar, home of the Rundottari. This is a primarily mercantile district - the only one in Crua - where cheap goods are sold alongside the primary trade in the ward: Slaves. The cries of slaves and crack of whips kill any attempt by street hawkers to give cheers the the district, instead it is a grim reminder to the poor of the crushing power the handful of wealthy nobles possess.

    Dusk Gate (population 6,400): One of two functioning city gates, the Dusk Gate is a major trade thoroughfare, as wagons from the surrounding farms and villages bring goods into the city on a daily basis. It is also a hotbed of smuggling and crime, with the Rundottari struggling to keep black market goods from being traded openly. The Dusk Gate ward is home to the infamous Dusk Market - a large and persistent black market that trades semi-openly within the alleys of the ward, it's only concession to the efforts of law enforcement is to relocate every few months. Jacovo's stables are also here.

    Bilgewater (population 3,200): Rego Crua has the dubious honor of being entirely on the mainland and reasonable elevated, keeping it well above flood levels. When the Canaroden was built, it cut off Scripa and Sacero from the mainland and isolated their sewer systems from Crua. Given that having raw sewage dumped into the Canaroden would be highly disrespectful to the namesake and upsetting to the wealthier southern residents, the solution was to catch most of Crua's sewage and treat it, in the ward that came to be known as "Bilgewater". Bilgewater is most famous for the cisterns and plant that treat the foetid waste from the overcrowded slums, and related industries - such as all of the city's tanneries and most of the abattoirs. Indeed, so successful is the waste industry that barges regularly haul loads of accumulated filth from elsewhere in the city to further fill the pits of Bilgewater. This ward is the least populated and least pleasant of all of Crua's wards.

    PAREGO SPERA
    REGO SCRIPA
    On the whole, Scripa is the working class and low-middle class hub of Westcrown, complete with markets, docks, shipyards and other industries and government buildings. As a holy city to a dead god, there are dozens of chapels and temples.to Aroden and his founders scattered through Scripa (and Crua, but they tend to be occupied there), which lie abandoned. The goal is to have the region be the home of the "common man", so to speak, though its former role of administration and services to the government ensure the fading glory vibe is still strong.

    Deepwater (population 5,300): Most of Westcrown's shoreline is too shallow for deepwater craft - the Adivian deposits silt almost as fast as it can be dredged - however the currents around the islands scour away the silt along a rocky section, allowing ships to safely approach close enough for the mainland's only deepwater port. While Deepwater is heavily used, it was never enough to support the immense traffic Westcrown had in its heyday which forced the construction of Rego Pena. These days, Deepwater serves as a less convenient and cheap port and shipyard, providing the only dry-dock facilities other than Admiralty Island. The tone of Deepwater is that of a bustling port and industrial site - loud and sporting an array of distractions to entertain sailors and dockworkers alike, as well as numerous inns and warehouses.

    Prominance (population 4,600): A spur off the main ridgeline of the peninsula ends in a tall outcrop that overlooks the Gemcrown Bay and barrier Island, it is the site of the largest fortress in the city - Fort Spera, home of the Donadottari, who guard Scripa and Sacero. The district is hilly and rocky, with buildings closely packed and represents the wealthiest ward in Spera, home to middle class homes and businesses, and Tanarik House - the headquarters of the Hellknights of the Rack in the city. Of the entire mainland, Prominance has the lowest crime rate.

    Plazidona (population 6,900): "Aroden's Plaza" is dominated by the massive plaza st the center, which serves as a hub of transport and commerce in the mainland, though after the rise of thrune the plaza itself has been renamed to "Empire Plaza", the ward still retains the legacy of the old Westcrown in its title. A bustling hub of trade, Plazidona also hosts markets once a week, with the streets lined with stalls selling almost any legal good you could hope for. Though comparatively wealthy, Plazidona still suffers from crime and cutpurses' are common. The bulk of the residents here are working class, as the owners of the businesses prefer to live in Prominance, or Rego Sacero.

    Wake (population 6,200): Located on the western shore of Scripa, Wake features the only sandy beach in Westcrown, which many of the residents of Scripa and Sacero flock to on hot summer days, work and weather permitting. Despite this recreational attraction, the majority of the district serves primarily as a residential district, housing workers who spend their days laboring in workhouses or factories before returning to their families on the evenings. Wake is in most ways a simple and honest place - there is little to steal to attract thieves, and other than the beach, little draw to attract crowds.

    Churchfront (population 2,900): Located along the canal that separates Scripa from Sacero, this ward was once the gateway between the temple district and the administrative district, and served as a blend of the two, with accommodation for pilgrims seeking to stand in the shadow of the Arodenama. A dozen shrines and churches to Aroden and his founders and countless shops and services to cater to the needs of visitors and clergy alike, given that settlement in Sacero was strictly limited. Since Aroden's death and the land grab in Sacero, this once bustling neighborhood has fallen on hard times, and many of the buildings stand abandoned or occupied by squatters. This is the poorest district in Scripa, and the location of the primary safe house of the Children of Westcrown.

    REGO SACERO
    The series of islands once held the city's temples, shrines and the sacred gardens of Aroden. Since Aroden's death and the rise of Thrune, many temples were destroyed or abandoned, and Aroden's gardens became the subject of a land grab, as the wealthy sought escape from the overcrowded and decaying streets.

    Aroden's Rise (population 600 squatters): The largest island is a rocky hill whose crest towers above even Prominance, and it is atop this that the 80ft statue of Aroden stands, surrounded by the plaza and intended home of the god - the Arodenama. Intended to be a manor fit for a god, the entire island was sculptured gardens, buildings, statues and other signs of devotion. Now, it serves as a memorial to Aroden, as the island stands abandoned, and some say haunted by the ghosts of the priests of Aroden who committed suicide after their God's passing.

    Imperial Rise (population 900): Intended to be an open-air auditorium and garden for Aroden to address his people, this haven was occupied by Thrune and turned into the Lord Mayors' residence, with the Nessian Spiral buried deep beneath. Soon after, several other Vaneos and Viras sprang up, as great and lesser houses sought to expand their holdings rather than continue to compete for the little space available on Regicona. These new buildings - built to suit the aesthetics of Thrune - lack the decay of the rest of the city, but instead display a dark and infernal decor that is no less unsettling.

    Aroden's Walk (population 3,800): The main temple district of the city, Aroden's walk has a vast boulevard running the length of this island which is flanked by temples to Aroden and other gods. Since the fall of Aroden and outlawing of many gods, several of the temples were destroyed or repurposed, and others simply abandoned. In a deliberate display, Thrune had the temple of Calistria destroyed and a cathedral to Asmodeus built on its ruins. Other buildings, such as the Sanqatada Cinqarda were attempted to be torn down, but resisted all such attempts as if through divine intervention. Since then the old cathedral to the Five Founders of Westcrown has been maintained by a small contingent of priests of Iomadae.

    Avernesian Ilses (population 6,700): These series of islands were reserved for Aroden's use as gardens and recreation for the god of mankind, and after his fall the site of the primary land grab, as they were devoid of the shrines and ghosts of Aroden's Rise. The gardens have long since been destroyed or walled off for private use as minor nobles and wealthy merchants carved up the lush woodland and manicured lawns to build manors and townhouses in emulation of the new power of Thrune, creating ever more gothic and morbid testimonials to their loyalty to Thrune.

    Marina (population 1,100): The last stretch of the peninsula is a combination of fort, port and lighthouse, and serves as the base for the Condottari, who guard the waterways and wharves of Westcrown. The Marina is too shallow for large deepwater vessels, however small ships and river boats can dock here easily, and the condottari maintain a fleet of such vessels to enact their duty. As an entirely military compound, unauthorized access is prohibited, though the families of many Dottari live there, and workers are frequently brought in for repair work.

    REGO PENA
    Rego Pena is unique in that is entirely man-made. Comprised of floating wharves and artificial islands, it is the most widespread, but also the most lucrative for the city as the vast majority of trade foes through it. Each wharf-island is tightly packed with warehouses, stores and on some vaneos of enterprising merchant-lords.

    Admiralty Isle (population 500): Physically remote from the rest of the city, Admiralty Island sits in the bay and is staffed by members of the Cheliax navy under the command of Admiral Vourne. Built centuries ago, the island serves as the base of operations for the Gemcrown fleet, though it is rare for the fleet to be in port long. The island maintains a staff of soldiers loyal to Thrune, who serve as a constant reminder to Westcrown and all who sail there of who controls the city.

    Southdock (population 3,200): The busiest of all ports, it has expanded massively over the centuries, as thousands of piers support buildings reaching up to ten stories in height, as luxury inns and lush townhouses crowd the center, while a myriad of docks, warehouses and taverns line the exterior. Shortly before the fall of Aroden, Southdock had a massive lighthouse and signal tower constructed, which the condottari use to signal and maintain communications with the ships. The reason for the success of Southdock in the past was a markedly lower "docking fee" than paying tariffs passing into Westcrown proper. In recent decades it is due to the fact that only the condottari have jurisdiction their, and they vehemently defend it, even from the Hellknights. And are... Somewhat more lax about policing trade laws. In essence, corruption.

    Rapture (population 1,200): Formerly the North Dock which was abandoned after the capital move to Egorian, Rapture is now a palace of pleasure and vice, existing in a form of legal limbo that its various investors ensure continues, it is peripherally under the jurisdiction of the Condottari, however it effectively polices itself. The old warehouses and stores have been turned into a floating casino, brothel, dance hall, inn, tavern and... Other entertainments, as almost anything can be indulged in (or at least witnessed) here, depending on how much gold one has. Given that everything must be shipped in - past the condottari - the madam of Rapture is extremely adamant about enforcing her "no smuggling" rule; the island is a reprieve where discerning patrons can indulge their fantasies, not a black market depot.

    Eastdock (population 400): The only floating dock on the east side of Regicona, it's position was selected primarily so it would be downwind. Eastdock is, first and foremost, a fish market, where fishing vessels bring in their catch and sell it on to fishmongers and traders in Westcrown. Famous for the incredible array of seafood, and incredible array of smells, the fishmongers of Eastdock distribute their produce to almost every household in Westcrown.

    Westdock (population 500): Small operation run by a criminal, plus independants paying his rates.... Might do something with this later.

    ... Haven't written anything up for Regicona as yet


    Raynulf wrote:

    In terms of overall population: I was playing with these numbers;

    Cader 4,200
    Crua 30,200
    Scripa 25,900
    Sacero 13,100
    Pena 5,800
    Aurum 10,300
    Corna 13,400
    Laina 11,800

    How do you figure Parego Regicona to hold just shy of 1/3 of the population?

    The way I figure it, the "mainland" districts (especially Crua and Scripa, as you noted) are way more population dense than the scattered and walled off islands of the nobility - even nestled within a legion of servants.

    I would *reckon* more like the following:

    Rego Cader - 5,000
    Rego Crua - 45,000
    Rego Scripa - 30,000
    Rego Pena - 15,000
    Rego Sacero - 10,000
    Parego Regicona - 5,000

    = 110,000

    Spoiler:
    I am no historian, civil engineer, nor geologist, nor do I have any training to support my claims, other than having travelled a little in my own life and read my share of books...


    rainzax wrote:

    How do you figure Parego Regicona to hold just shy of 1/3 of the population?

    The way I figure it, the "mainland" districts (especially Crua and Scripa, as you noted) are way more population dense than the scattered and walled off islands of the nobility - even nestled within a legion of servants.

    I would *reckon* more like the following:

    Rego Cader - 5,000
    Rego Crua - 45,000
    Rego Scripa - 30,000
    Rego Pena - 15,000
    Rego Sacero - 10,000
    Parego Regicona - 5,000

    = 110,000
    ** spoiler omitted **

    My reasoning goes as follows;

    Rego Cader: This section of the city is huge (too huge, in my opinion), has guards posted along all the walls and no food shipments of note going into it. By virtue of people need to eat to live, minimal food = minimal population. A few thousand living off what little food grows or can be hunted or scavenged (cannibalism is likely to be a thing) seemed appropriate.

    Rego Crua: Heavily crowded, but a comparatively small district on the published map. In my version the sizes of Rego Cader and Crua are swapped so that Crua is the large district and Cader the small one. While overcrowded, this is a fundamentally poorer neighborhood with fewer floors in the buildings, a lot more ruins that are unfit for habitation, and greater proportion of industrial buildings that take up space without providing housing. About 30,000 ish felt appropriate, though this could go up or down easily enough.

    Rego Scripa: Scripa (to me) felt like the "everyman district" - not the overcrowded slums of Crua, but not the townhouses and neowealthy estates of Sacero. Due to plot, however, it also needs to have a fair amount of abandoned buildings such that the Safehouse isn't overly unique or special, and the concept that land tax and sliding economy (or at least economic unfairness) has forced many thousands of people from Scripa into Crua in search of homes they can afford. Scripa is also a big area, and in my version extended
    a decent way south. 26,000 put it as being populous but not overcrowded, at felt 'about right' to me :)

    Rego Sacero: This is the domain of the Arodenama and a land grab by the wealth, and populated with townhouses, vaneos and even a few viras, as well as temples a plenty. Given this is the neorich and temple district, and I wanted the Arodenama region to be abandoned (and haunted), I felt 13,000 ish would be appropriate, though it is easy to bump this up to closer to 20k by encroaching on Aroden's Rise a bit.

    Rego Pena: These are mostly islands and floating wharves in my version, so a small population felt appropriate. 5,000 ish is what I went with :)

    Parego Regicona: The island is (as published) about as big as Parego Dospera (if not a little bigger), and a bit smaller than Parego Spera, but also the home of the wealthy elite and their armies of servants. Townhouses stretch upwards and vaneos and viras are aplenty as space is at a premium. This is Venice Island. Given the area and affluence (and the fact that house servants typically had accommodation in the Vaneo & Vira), I saw it being fairly built up and crowded enough that there would be a land grab in Sacero - if it was sparsely populated there is little motivation to move to the mainland. Given the area, about 2/3rds of Parego Spera's population felt appropriate - putting it around the 35K mark.

    Now, all things considered it is possible (especially if one shrinks the island by a chunk to be a more reasonable size) to move more people off Regicona and onto the mainland, but I'd personally draw the line as a 20,000 minimum on the island.

    That's my 2c anyway :)


    You make excellent points all around, and for the most part I agree with you (as our projected numbers attest) on nearly all acounts save one: Perego Regicona. So I’ll speak to that. In general, I see two forces at play here.

    One is the “land grab” you mentioned - during and after the Humanist-Diabolist Civil War, with the church of Aroden in question (thus it’s massive estates in Rego Sacero), I think both petty noble (“new money”) and gentry noble (“old money”) alike would lay claim to the now-illigitimacy of property rights of the fallen church. And so! I don’t see the “land grab” as materially or geographically motivated at all - I see it more politically, socially, and economically motivated. The Diabolist-Loyalist nobility took claim of the land because they could, not because they had to.

    Two, and I think this cuts closer to the population discrepency between our opinions, immediately following the Civil War, their was a great “noble flight” to the newly relocated capital in Egorian. Here is my key sentence from Bastards of Erebus (page 7): “Those nobles who remained were largely old families rooted in their traditions and their pride, content to rot in their declining [estates].”

    So the way I see it, considering the impact of the two forces above, even after 40 more years or so (depending when you start the campaign) of Thrune-Diabolist rule, Parego Regicona has a much lower population than it once did, certainly far below it’s capacity, and is inhabited primarily by super-rich families whose worth individually makes up the majority of distributed wealth of the entire metropolis.

    That said, I think my initial numbers are too low, so perhaps I can modify them into something like:

    Spoiler:

    Population by District

    Rego Cader - 5,400
    Rego Crua - 37,800
    *Rego Scripa - 16,700
    *Rego Pena - 28,300
    Rego Sacero - 12,800
    Parego Regicona - 13,700 (Corna 4,800 - Laina 5,600 - Aerum 3,300)

    = 114,700

    *With the note that in mine, Scripa is the "industrial" district, with the shipping businesses and warehouses, and Pena is the "downtown" district, with the markets, trades, and taverns.

    Good luck with your reboot. I know your players are lucky indeed!


    rainzax wrote:

    One is the “land grab” you mentioned - during and after the Humanist-Diabolist Civil War, with the church of Aroden in question (thus it’s massive estates in Rego Sacero), I think both petty noble (“new money”) and gentry noble (“old money”) alike would lay claim to the now-illigitimacy of property rights of the fallen church. And so! I don’t see the “land grab” as materially or geographically motivated at all - I see it more politically, socially, and economically motivated. The Diabolist-Loyalist nobility took claim of the land because they could, not because they had to.

    Two, and I think this cuts closer to the population discrepency between our opinions, immediately following the Civil War, their was a great “noble flight” to the newly relocated capital in Egorian. Here is my key sentence from Bastards of Erebus (page 7): “Those nobles who remained were largely old families rooted in their traditions and their pride, content to rot in their declining [estates].”

    So the way I see it, considering the impact of the two forces above, even after 40 more years or so (depending when you start the campaign) of Thrune-Diabolist rule, Parego Regicona has a much lower population than it once did, certainly far below it’s capacity, and is inhabited primarily by super-rich families whose worth individually makes up the majority of distributed wealth of the entire metropolis.

    Very good points!

    I'm a huge proponent of "Make it yours" whenever I approach published campaigns, so a lot depends on what the individual GM wants Regicona to feel like. The concept of a run down and half-abandoned Regicona definitely has appeal, though my tastes run towards a desperate attempt to cling to the well-lit and relative safety of the island against the horrors of the night, and thus a higher present population :)

    That being said With the move of a lot of the neorich to Sacero, my population breakdown winds up heavy on the "Rich and their minions" side, and my Regicona could do with being shrunk both in area and population.

    Spoiler:

    REGO CADER: 4,200 (Brambles 0; Cloiser 2,600; Necrotorium 0; Tenth Hell 1,600)
    REGO CRUA: 36,800 (Longsword 8,600; Blacksalt 6,800; The Stocks 9.400; Dusk Gate 7,700; Bilgewater 4,300)
    REGO SCRIPA: 32,300 (Deepwater 7,600; Prominance 5,700; Plazidona 7,300; Wake 7,600; Churchfront 4,100)
    REGO SACERO: 14,400 (Aroden's Rise 600; Imperial Rise 1,200; Aroden's Walk 4,300; Avernesian Isles 6,700; Marina 1,600)
    REGO PENA: 7,200 (Southdock 3,800; Westdock 500; Eastdock 400; Rapture Island 1,600; Admiralty 900) Noting it is my islands district
    REGO AURUM: 6,300
    REGO CORNA: 7,800
    REGO LAINA: 5,700
    (total 19,800 on Regicona)

    I'll likely run with these numbers and actually separate Regicona into three distinct clumps to reduce the livable area and provide distinct and clear boundaries... which the default map sadly doesn't.

    And one day I'll get around to breaking down the three Regiconan Rego's into wards... which I'll likely just do as the individual islands, thinking about it.


    The Outskirts of Westcrown

    In thinking about the population of Westcrown itself, my thinking has drifted to the people who live outside of the walls that surround the metropolis. Specifically, to the patchwork settlements just west of Parego Dospera.

    What sort of population would be a good baseline for these areas? My initial guess would be upwards of 10% of the population of Westcrown itself, or about 15,000 people, based on the partial reliance on the need of vast farmlands produce food and the partial reliance on the ports to import food and goods.

    Thoughts?


    rainzax wrote:

    The Outskirts of Westcrown

    In thinking about the population of Westcrown itself, my thinking has drifted to the people who live outside of the walls that surround the metropolis. Specifically, to the patchwork settlements just west of Parego Dospera.

    What sort of population would be a good baseline for these areas? My initial guess would be upwards of 10% of the population of Westcrown itself, or about 15,000 people, based on the partial reliance on the need of vast farmlands produce food and the partial reliance on the ports to import food and goods.

    Thoughts?

    It depends how far you want to look, and what assumptions you make.

    Most fantasy cities seem to exist in the middle of complete wilderness - there is rarely any hint of the thousands of square miles of farmland needed to feed that many people. Indeed, for a city like Westcrown, you'd expect an absolutely minimum of 1,000 square miles to feed the current population, plus the additional land needed to feed those who worked it.

    Golarion has a tendency not to mention national populations as a whole, in part because it is difficult to do so. If you were going for medieval simulation (Something which James Jacobs has already pointed out is not a valid analogy, given that medieval nations didn't have huge numbers of monsters, magic, magic items and supernatural effects)... but if you did it anyway, you'd expect 75-100 people per square mile of Cheliax. Which is a LOT of people, with generally about 1-in-5 to 1-in-10 living in towns and cities.

    This would suggest that regional Westcrown (i.e. the land around it that is under its governance and provides it with food and resources) would have a rural population of around 600,000 to 1,200,000, and thus between 7,000 and 12,500 square miles of inhabited land. As a minimum. Whether this is in keeping with Paizo's vision for Westcrown and Cheliax I don't know, but I'd be putting the "about a million and a bit" as the Westcrown region's total population, with the appropriately enormous number of little villages.

    As for "what are the settlements like outside the walls", I'm not really sure - I kind of removed them from my map, as I figured people will either dwell in the walls, or they'll build their village at least an hour's walk away (about 3 miles), as past that is inconvenient transit time between work and home <_<


    Interesting. Thanks for pointing this out. Considering all this, I think I will situate my Westcrown on the far right of the Simulation vs Magical Industrialization spectrum.

    Meaning that between Magic and Commerce (from the port), only 10% of the farmland (from the simulationist perspective) is actually needed to support the Metropolis. And since there should be about a million people (from perspective), I will place a farming population of about 100,000 within the Region of Westcrown.

    What do you think is a reasonable radius to extend this Region out to? Three day's ride, perhaps?


    rainzax wrote:

    Interesting. Thanks for pointing this out. Considering all this, I think I will situate my Westcrown on the far right of the Simulation vs Magical Industrialization spectrum.

    Meaning that between Magic and Commerce (from the port), only 10% of the farmland (from the simulationist perspective) is actually needed to support the Metropolis. And since there should be about a million people (from perspective), I will place a farming population of about 100,000 within the Region of Westcrown.

    What do you think is a reasonable radius to extend this Region out to? Three day's ride, perhaps?

    If you assume a semi-circle (river, swamps, etc get in the way) and a total (city + Rural) population of around 250k... then farmland would extend 40-50 miles from the city.

    The numbers I was quoting earlier (700k to 1,250k) would be 70-80 miles and 90-100 miles, respectively. Assuming my math isn't borked.

    NB: Both of those are assuming good farming land. Given the amount of bog and hills, you can likely increase those distances by up to 50% quite easily.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Given I'm running two (sort of three) other campaigns before I get back to Westcrown... I'm going to park this here (in part so I can find it again if my computer dies a second time).

    The following is basically the backbone of what I am intending to do with the story on the second play through, plus some commentary on the characters involved, and their changes to suit the revised plot.

    DRAMATIS PERSONAE

    CHAMMADY DROVENGE:

    (CN female chelaxian human rogueUC 15)

    Chammady Drovenge is the granddaughter of Vassindio Drovenge and the presumed heir to the line of the Wiscrani Drovenges. Beautiful, intelligent and highly ambitious, she has long rankled at the glass ceiling the aristocracy placed above her, and seeks to be more than a piece of meat for trade or baby-factory. She wants glory, power and most of all freedom. For as long as she can remember, her only "true" family is her brother, Eccardian, whom she loves dearly (in part due to being the subject of a Charm Monster) and seeks to protect from the cruel world around her, and for whom she has done a number of deeds best not spoken of.

    Her steadfast (and magically compelled) loyalty to her brother grounds her otherwise hedonistic and rebellious tendencies, as she is secretly a worshipper of Callistria, and spends much of her free time indulging in pleasures and spectacle - the Devildrome being a particularly favored vice. She has a number of friends (and oft-times lovers), but her affect to them comes second to her loyalty to her brother.

    ECCARDIAN DROVENGE:

    (LE unique male hellspawn-tiefling mesmerist 20)

    Eccardian Drovenge is the son of both Sidonai Drovenge... And Mammon, Archdevil and lord of Erebus, as a result of Sidonai's madness and the plotting of the hag coven of The Flies. And he has known this since he was 12 years old, when the Mother of Flies lured him into her abode and showed him her copy of the contract.

    Born with the power and potential that only the son of an archdevil can possess, Eccardian possesses an internal mandate to thrive and succeed. The fact that he knows this has ensured his ego is also beyond that conceivable by most mortals. He also possesses the uncanny ability to innately charm people and implant suggestions - it was this ability that saved his life as an infant, and he uses to control his sister. Eccardian is fond of his sister, but is far less concerned with her well being and happiness than he is with his own success, though he conceals this fact well. Indeed, the fact that their relationship is at times incestuous when the fancy takes him (though never in a fashion that would cause her to become pregnant - he takes pains to avoid such with all his lovers) is largely to serve his own ego and need for control.

    He knows that his sister, or perhaps one of his lovers, is doomed to be claimed by Mammon as the price for his victory, and as such has little motivation to care especially deeply for anyone but himself. Instead, he is slowly manipulating those around him in a plot to seize power in Westcrown, then Cheliax, and then all of Golarion; to rule the mortal world much as his father rules a layer of Hell itself.

    ILNERIK SIVANSHIN:

    Ilnerik Sivanshin never sought to become a vampire. Indeed, in life he was a Neutral Good chronicler for the Order of Pathfinders (I am treating it more like a knightly order than guild), and was deeply concerned by the findings he and Bisby (CN) had recovered from their Mwangi expedition. His transformation was caused not by his intent, but by Bisby during a heated argument about the fate of the artefacts and the necessity of bringing them before the queen if their reputation and position in the order was going to be salvaged. During a moment of rage, Bisby stabbed him with the artefact dagger they had found, not only killing his friend but trapping his soul within, so that even when he attempted to use a scroll of raise dead (using UMD) it failed. A panicked Bisby removed the dagger and hid it in their vault, then disposed of the body into the city sewers even as the city erupted into chaos at Aroden’s death

    Sivanshin awoke that night as unique vampire at the bottom of the harbour in a substantial amount of pain from the water. Swimming up, he climbed aboard a ship fleeing the city and was unwittingly transported to Nidal, where he spent the next several decades becoming accustomed to his condition, exploring his abilities and wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing. As the decades wore on, he found himself gradually able to feel less – less fear, less pain, less passion, less hate… and this did not please him. Turning to the worship of Zon-Kuthon saw a brief reprieve from this emotional numbness, but even those intense sensations faded in time. He had lost something in Westcrown, and he wanted it back.

    Offering his services as a mercenary to the Thrune-appointed Lord Mayor, he was hired on as shadowy nightwarden of the city, on the stipulation that he was granted Delvehaven for his soul use – his intent being to recover the dagger that held his soul, whereby he might be able to stop the slow leaching of his emotions and feel again. Unfortunately, while he was familiar with the old wards, in the years of civil war since his death, the remaining chroniclers had sealed the lower vaults with layers of new wards and barriers, which thwarted his best efforts. Once the lord mayor vanished and his payments stopped, Sivanshin sought other means of support his extravagances and desire to awaken passions within himself – he hunted down and demanded a place among the Council of Thieves, granting them control of the night, and himself a great vira in Rego Cader.

    THE MOTHER OF FLIES:

    The coven of hags known as the Flies have lurked in Westcrown’s underworld for as long as anyone can remember, and they (or at least a changeling representative) were among those who formed the first Council of Thieves; granting control of the city’s sewers and tunnels in return for a share in the city’s bounty – though their preferences were for children and artefacts, rather than mere coin. Indeed, while they have always sat upon the Council, they have never truly been part of the organization – largely pursuing their own agendas in parallel.

    The Flies witnessed the fall of Aroden and the rise of Thrune… and were not impressed. The audacity the Thrunes had to believe that Hell served them, they found to be an insult to their patron, the Archdevil Mammon. Thus, they hatched a plot to see Westcrown, and eventually Cheliax or even Golarion as a whole in the gilded palm of their master. When Sidonai issued prayer to Asmodeus in the night for a son that would make his father proud and stamp his legacy on the world… they answered, and provided the means for the desperate noble to sire a child with an Archdevil itself.

    When Vassindio discovered their involvement in the incident, he slew their changeling representative and marched an army of livered soldiers and hired mercenaries into the sewers, slaying two of the coven and destroying their grotto. Failing to find the third, he was forced to withdraw by his allies in the Council, who later made reparations with the surviving crone.

    For her part, the Mother played the role of the penitent hag, and took her place within the Council again, but she has never forgiven Vassindio for the death of her daughters, and fully intends to see him pay for his deeds – and so when Eccardian was 12 years old, she brought him to her grotto and showed him the contract surrounding his conception, and set him on the path to achieving his destiny… and her revenge.

    CHAPTER 1 – BASTARDS OF EREBUS [1-4]
    A mercenary and critic of the government, Janiven (CG slayer 3) gathers the PCs at the recently purchased Visio's Tavern, with the goal of establishing a vigilante nightwatch to help protect the people the "Law" neglects. After the group's leader and founder, Arael (NG investigator 3), fails to arrive, the group are forced to flee from hellknight armigers, lead to the tavern by the vigilante's teenage messenger.

    Escaping from the hellknights, the PCs meet up with the other men and women Janiven and Arael have recruited, and together are able to begin shaping both the groups methods and tactics, including uniforms and guises as appropriate. All this is in preparation for their first mission: rescue the group's leader, Arael, from a hellknight prison transport.

    With Arael safely back with the group, they have to lie low for a while, but the PCs can take the opportunity to follow up on some leads and rumors to help establish the group both in name and deed.

    The climax of Chapter 1 comes in the form of a daring and dangerous mission: A group of tiefling thieves and murderers has been striking throughout Longshadow, killing many of the residents of the places they rob. They need to be stopped and the dottari have proven ineffective, as the tieflings hunt at night and vanish during the day - vanish back through the sewers and into Rego Cader. With these fiends beyond the reach of the law, it is up to the Children of Westcrown to see justice done.

    Only with the defeat of the Bastards' leader, the rogue priest Palaveen, is the truth revealed; The Bastards were a puppet gang of the near-mythical Council of Thieves, who had recently overstepped their charter, with a couple of unsigned letters instructing Palaveen to "put a muzzle on his dogs, or be put down".

    The Council of Thieves not only lives... But it infests the very heart of Westcrown.

    NUTS AND BOLTS:

    Most of Bastards of Erebus should run in a similar fashion to how it is published, with a few notable exceptions:
    1) Any reference to overthrowing Thrune is removed, as it is not actually within the scope of this campaign, and it is important to set player expectations of the campaign clearly at the beginning.
    2) The sewer denizens are rewriting to be more “hag” and “fey” themed – replacing goblins with mites and gremlins, giant rats with giant insects and so on.
    3) Rather than accrue Fame points through the adventures, the PCs instead build up the Children of Westcrown as an organization, gaining assets, support and recruiting teams and notable NPCs to lead them.
    4) The other recruits are to be 1st level PC classes rather than NPC classes, and are not linked to a PC of the matching class – instead they can become either team leaders or adventuring buddies, depending on PC interest in the individual.
    5) Expand upon the “More Heroics” section to account for an additional level’s worth of content – this could be multiple small missions or the adaptation of a 2nd level module. The intent being to bring the party up to 3rd level before taking on the Bastards, and finishing the adventure at 4th, noting the Bastards will need to be adjusted accordingly.

    CHAPTER 2 – THE SIXFOLD TRIAL [4-7]
    With the defeat of the Bastards of Erebus, the PCs have put the name of the Children of Westcrown on the map. With this fame draws attention, both wanted and otherwise; While heroes to many of the people of Crua, the Children of Westcrown draw the attention of criminals, overzealous Hellknights seeking vengeance... And Chammady Drovenge, who approaches the group with a proposition.

    The noblewoman claims to have access to information both on the Council of Thieves and about the source of the shadow curse which could prove instrumental in defeating it and liberating Westcrown from the nightly horrors... But needs partners in order to acquire the last pieces of the puzzle, and wants to be sure that the "Children of Westcrown" possess the skill and courage that rumor claims they do before she is willing to commit to an alliance. Besides, the test she assigns the heroes is in their best interests to complete; A friend (and lover, but she won't admit that) of hers by the name of Delilee Cuicci has been out of touch for some time, and since then rumor has reached her of Delilee's mother's death and her uncle vanishing... But all of this smells wrong to her. Plus, the Cuicci family own most of the theaters of note within the city and are even co-investors and managers of the Nightshade theatre, which Aberian has had built beside his manor... And her plans require the Cuicci family to be functional.

    Following the heroes solving the Cuicci dilemma, and the return to life of Delilee and her mother (funded by Chammady), her true mission is laid bare: A heist. Specifically, the heroes need to ensure that Aberian throws a cornucopia and that they get an invitation, and one where they can go in disguise... And she has the perfect plan, whereby the PCs take the leading roles in the deadly play, the Six Trials of Larazod.

    With the PCs donning stage names and putting on the performance of a lifetime, they gain access to Aberian's Folly, and with Chammady running interference soon make their way into the abandoned extraplanar mayoral vault of the Asmodean Knot to recover the records of the old Pathfinder Lodge and Archive of Delvehaven. Facing deadly traps and deranged inhabitants placed their by the previous diabolical lord mayors, the heroes must fight for their lives to recover what may be the only hope for their city's salvation.

    NUTS AND BOLTS:

    There are several key changes here;
    1) First and foremost, Chammady Drovenge replaces Ailyn Ghontasavos as the character instigating the heist of the Asmodean Knot. This is to introduce the character early, and give the PCs time to get to know her, and at the very least know of her brother. It also ensures that the PCs are aimed at the Council of Thieves, rather than their usurpers, for the bulk of the campaign.
    2) Before Chammady and the concept of the Sixfold trial enters the scene, there are a number of threats the PCs need to deal with: Another gang – this one native to Crua – feels threatened by the rising popularity of the Children of Westcrown in their turf, and takes up arms against the PCs and their allies; Signifier Shanwen Khollarix, seeking retribution and redemption for his defeat by the PCs in Chapter 1 (or a friend/relative if he died) comes seeking these “Vigilante Troublemakers”. These two series of encounters should overlap, and bring the PCs most of the way from 4th to 5th level.
    3) When Chammady is introduced to the PCs (she makes contact with Janiven, who arranges to meet with Arael and the PCs in neutral ground, not the safehouse), she makes bold claims about her ability to support their goals… but isn’t going to trust they can handle matters right off the bat. Instead, she will ask them to deal with a problem the Cuicci family is having, though she will lend financial support as needed. This is taking the Cuicci family drama out of Twice-Damned Prince and moving it forward, dropping the levels and removing the Mhartis aspect (saved for later). It also serves as a necessary task to ensure that the Sixfold Trial happens at all. It also brings the PCs up to 5th level.
    4) The Sixfold Trial is a heist, whereby Chammady pulls strings with the Cuicci’s to ensure that the play happens as a one-night exclusive performance, and has sell-out seats, with the PCs guaranteed a place at Aberian’s Cornucopia immediately afterwards. The course of the play is mostly the same, albeit with altered encounters and adjustments to the scoring methods (as mentioned previously). The intent of the play is to take characters from 5th to 6th level.
    5) The Asmodean Knot… Is something I’ll likely need to play with somewhat, as some of the rooms/encounters aren’t to my liking. Especially the shadows. The intent is a mixture of dungeon crawl and exposition, taking the PCs up to 7th level.

    CHAPTER 3 – WHAT LIES IN DUST [7-10]
    Along with the recovered items and documents from the mayoral vault, the heroes also recovered a rare and powerful item – a Chelish Crux. This strange device opens up a mindscape through which the heroes must navigate to unlock the secrets of the last mayor’s thoughts, ambitions and goals. Out of this jarring assemblage of memories, they gain insight into how the shadow curse fell upon Westcrown - it was brought here deliberately by the previous mayor in order to enforce a nighttime curfew!

    What's more, the ceding of the old Pathfinder Archive of Delvehaven to this "Lord of Shadows" was a non-negotiable part of the contract, and the mayor’s memories suggest not only that his mercenary general had some kind of tie to the place, but theories as to how the entry into the archive might be achieved. To enter Delvehaven and unearth the secrets of this "Lord of Shadows", the heroes must first find and consult with the souls of its scattered and long-dead guardians - the Chroniclers of old. Through ancient tombs, devil-summoning arenas and haunted extraplanar realms the heroes uncover the history of the civil war, and the keys to entering Delvehaven itself.

    Within the ancient repository of knowledge that is Delvehaven, they must face not only the vampiric and shadowy spawn on the self-styled Lord of Shadows, but the lingering spirits of those who died during the chaos following Aroden's death. It is among those long dead that they uncover the truth behind the shadow curse, and not only the identity and location of the Lord of Shadows, but the key to his defeat - his phylactery.

    Armed with the knowledge and means to defeat the shadow-vampire Ilnerik Sivanshin, and in possession of a powerfully fortified and warded new safe house, it is time for the heroes to take the fight to the nemesis of the night.

    NUTS AND BOLTS:

    I’ll come out and say it – this is a heavy rewrite, and doesn’t bear that much resemblance to the published module any more. The intent is to break this down into three parts:
    1) Entering the Chelish Crux, which my intent is to have function as a device that creates a permanent mindscape in which are stored memories – in essence an archive of thoughts. It is a chance to play with the mindscape rules, and give some background exposition in a fun and challenging way. It should also get the PCs part way to 8th level.
    2) Seeking the lost Chroniclers. In this they need to find the three chroniclers who escaped; One is held by Rance Lucca, who will trade it for getting Larazod and Companions into his arena for an upcoming tournament – which also serves as a chance for fame and fortune; One lies within the Leroung family crypts (beneath the Brambles in Rego Cader) where they had attempted to take refuge from Thrune assassins during the civil war; The last lies in an extradimensional refuge (akin to a permanent magnificent mansion), where they died of their wounds and continue to haunt to this day. Completing these three, along with extra side missions, should bring the PCs well into 8th level.
    3) Rather than the lodge presented in the published adventure, I am intending to rewrite Delvehaven as a (many hundred of years old) fortress-archive, which serves the pathfinders as a repository of lore and artefacts – dangerous and otherwise. The wards to the upper levels were known to Sivanshin, and thus he has populated them with undead (which will take the PCs up to 9th level), however the wards placed by the Chroniclers after his demise stopped him from getting into the lower levels and reaching his phylactery – indeed, even if he is destroyed he merely reforms in the upper levels. Breaking through these final wards will bring the PCs up against haunts and the manifestations of the lingering soul of Bisby, as well as a number of traps that the three Chronicler’s didn’t know about. This is intended to be a blend of exposition (via haunts and the phantasm ideas from the Hardcover Skeletons of Scarwall) and horrible, horrible things. With the final events bringing the PCs up to 10th level.
    4) I am considering adding in that after the destruction of Sivanshin’s phylactery, his soul manifests as a ghost, possessing his original alignment of Neutral Good, who serves the PCs as a custodian and guardian of Delvehaven, and advisor (being a chronicler himself), as well as a great source of exposition.

    CHAPTER 4 – MOTHER OF FLIES [10-13]
    The vampire Sivanshin, already weakened by the loss of his phylactery, has retreated to his stronghold of Walcourt, deep within the ruins of Rego Cader. It is into this realm of death and madness that the heroes must venture to liberate the city from his vile grip.

    But Sivanshin is not without allies - he sits upon the Council of Thieves, and is not about to simply go quietly into the night. Calling on his allies, the heroes must face a wave of attacks, assassination attempts and sabotage before they can muster their forces and move on Rego Cader and the region known as the Necrotorium. Within this beshadowed landscape of ruins and decay, they must battle against a literal army of shadow beasts and undead horrors before they face the source of the city's pain: Sivanshin himself.

    But Sivanshin is nothing if not persistent - with his human allies and undead minions having fallen before the heroes' might, he retreats into the sewers, leaving his vampiric harem to hold off the PCs long enough to escape to another of the council's strongholds - the grotto of the Flies. It is into the depths of the sewers that the heroes must venture - leaving their army and allies behind as they work their way through tight corridors to face not only Sivanshin, but the legendary Mother of Flies.

    This battle is not what either party expected, however, as the Mother of Flies has secretly been supporting Eccardian's rise to power and plot to lead a coup, and provided him (and thus Chammady) with much of the information that lead to his downfall. After a three-way clash of legends, the treat is revealed; Eccardian has betrayed not only the Council of Thieves and the heroes, but the whole city. He seeks to rule Westcrown or see it burnt to ashes around him, and by the will of Mammon he will succeed at one or the other.

    NUTS AND BOLTS:

    First off, I am switching around Books 4 and 5. Next… other than name and characters, there is actually not much resemblance to the published adventure. Some key changes:
    1) There is no expedition into the Hagwood. Not a Hagwood for that matter – the Mother of Flies dwells in a grotto beneath the city sewers.
    2) The first part of Chapter 4 has the Council of Thieves confronting the PCs more directly – assassins, unscrupulous mercenaries, bribed hellknights and puppet gangs pitch themselves against the PCs and their allies. This is something of a fire-fighting exercise, and intended to force the players to think laterally, and to bring to light that what they are doing is growing in importance and influence within the city. By the end, this should bring them to 11th level, as they may well wind up confronting some of the Council directly (possibly with some tip-offs from Chammady) – whether they kill these criminal masterminds or take them captive is up to the PCs, but shouldn’t affect the adventure too much either way.
    3) The next part is the trek into Rego Cader to confront Sivanshin. This is best done during the day, but even then will require assistance from allies as they push through the lawless wasteland of Cader and into the dead ruins where Sivanshin holds court. By the time they confront Sivanshin and force him to flee, they should be 12th level.
    4) The final part is chasing Sivanshin into the sewers (though likely not immediately. Rest is a thing), once more as a PC team rather than an army. By necessity they need to fight their way through the Mother of Flies defenses to reach her grotto, and face both her and Sivanshin together, which should bring them to 13th level.
    5) The final fight of this chapter is intended to be tough, but ultimately neither Sivanshin nor the hag actually work together very well, and both would not mind if their rival is killed off by the adventurers – any time it looks like the PCs might be losing, one of the two will take actions to undermine the other and give the PCs a chance to recover. Within the hags lair, in addition to many other things, is Eccardian’s contract, though the PCs may well be able to converse with her and/or Sivanshin and learn much of the truth of matters directly.
    6) In truth, Eccardian fully intends to seize power and rule like a great golden god over Westcrown, and eventually the world. How much screen time I’ll manage to give Eccardian beforehand depends on my players, because the man has an ego the size of a planet, which might be a little hard to stomach for some. Indeed, right now he is making his moves to eliminate the Council of Thieves’ leaders and assume control of the organization as part of his master plan to become ‘The Golden Saviour of Westcrown”.
    7) The PCs don’t get to go chasing Eccardian yet, however, as there is a more pressing concern when Book 5 opens up…

    CHAPTER 5 – THE INFERNAL SYNDROME [13-16]
    As the heroes emerge from the sewers and recover from their struggles against the armies of the vampire and hag, they are given little time to pursue Eccardian or Chammady, as the city is rocked by a massive explosion; Where Aberian’s Folly once stood is now five towering pillars of flame, and a roaring fireball with an eerie resemblance to the face of a terrifying fiend. Liebdaga the Twin is breaking free, and in his struggles he has opened a hellmouth above the ruins of the Mayoral manor, and the gates to the Nessian Spiral beneath.

    The heroes must fight their way through embattled streets as tiefling slaves from the spiral and devils from the bowels of Hell run rampant through the southern portions of the city. In these desperate times even the dottari and hellknights can be made to turn their efforts towards the greater foe as the heroes not only lead the Children of Westcrown, but rally the Donadottari (“Wardens of Aroden” – the dottari of Parego Spera) and hellknights, to stem the infernal tide and besiege the ruins of Aberian’s Folly.

    Delving into the great eldritch machine of the Nessian Spiral, they must fight their way through traps, tiefling slaves, escaped experiments and even the undead form of the first Lord Mayor – shutting down the infernal machinery along the way to weaken and eventually close the hellmouth above the ruins. It is within this labyrinthine factory of horrors that they catch up Chammady Drovenge, who bears Liebdaga’s contract, but has become trapped within the maze. Both the heroes’ and Chammady’s loyalties are put to the test; Will the Drovenge scion support her brother’s mad scheme to unleash an Infernal Duke upon the city, or has a spark of camaraderie between her and the heroes grown to become something more?

    After dealing with Chammady one way or another, the more pressing concern beckons; The Infernal Duke Liebdaga, a dangerous foe at the best of times has seen his full power returned by the shutting down of the Spiral’s eldritch machinery, and is now at the cusp of attaining his freedom and vengeance. The spiteful fiend has a century of torment and humiliation to repay upon Westcrown, unless the heroes can put an end to his evil once and for all.

    NUTS AND BOLTS:

    The plan here is to steal a couple of scenes from Twice-Damned Prince, and begin the process of openly building alliances now, rather than starting the process only in the final chapter.

    The first section is a series of encounters with devils and deranged tiefling slaves running amok in the streets; attacking homes and passers by, desecrating shrines to non-infernal beings, and setting ablaze to anything they can. These are mostly focused at the southern portions of Scripa and western portions of Sacero, though many devils are taking the opportunity to fly or teleport further afield or simply go into hiding – these will ultimately come into play during the last chapter (there is no well of many worlds providing devils – Eccardian gets his minions via this scenario, which was part of his plan). The goal is to get the PCs from 13th to 14th level by the time they reach the Spiral. Key events during this time:
    • Fighting a colossal hellstrider (advanced warmonger devil fighter 8 with the giant template applied 3 times, aiming for a CR of around 15 to 16).
    • Chasing Aberian Arvanxi, who has made off with the city treasury (courtesy of muleback cords and heavy load belt) and is fleeing through the streets leaving trails of coins as various fiends and tieflings attack him in passing. Think a treasure goblin from Diablo III <_<. The goal isn’t to kill (that would be bad), but to capture him and hand him to the dottari for safekeeping – he will still flee the city, but he won’t take the treasury with him.
    • Bring in the Tanarik House events in from Twice-Damned Prince, whereby Signifier Ara Verennie – having long been seduced and charmed by Eccardian – attempts to lead a coup against Paralictor Chard, which the PCs can help thwart and forge an (admittedly tense) alliance with the Hellknights of the rack.
    • After rallying what defenders they can, have the combined forces lay siege to the ruins of Aberian’s folly, in particular making use of Paralictor Chard and Durotas Saria Roccin… and Shanwen Khollarix if he’s still alive. This is intended to be a sequence where the PCs are able to take the reigns of events and prove themselves as leaders and heroes of the city, and start the process that cumulates at the campaign’s end.

    After getting to the ruins and getting access to it, the PCs need to go into the Nessian Spiral itself. The next section is the “Infernal Machine Dungeon Crawl”, in essence, though I won’t be using much of the original map/encounters for several reasons, and will instead be going with my “Extraction Chambers” style of dungeon as mentioned previously. The Spiral alone is intended to get them to 15th level prior to reaching Liebdaga… or possibly even 16th. I haven’t decided. Key notes:
    • A top ‘layer’ of dungeons, vaults and facilities to suit the whims of the previous Lord Mayors.
    • A second layer of the tiefling warrens, where the slaves lived and bred to maintain the great device, though in the decades since anyone came in they’ve had a revolution and have been deliberately sabotaging the engine for years in an effort to free Liebdaga, who they have come to worship.
    • The descent into the spiral itself, with five extraction chambers that need shutting down.
    • Chammady is before the last extraction chamber, having managed to enter the spiral there via a portal she had set up during Chapter 2, but is presently stuck as she is unable to get past the deranged lich of the old lord mayor. This is intended to be a culmination of their interactions with her to date – if the PCs were distrustful and cold, it will likely be a combat; if the PCs befriended her (or more), they can likely get her to turn on her brother and his mad schemes and either join them or at least turn herself over for arrest/capture.

    Liebdaga I will be running as an infernal duke, with some sabotage possible on the way, and some hampering of the PCs with the contract (enough to make victory possible)… but ultimately the intent is to make the fight exceedingly hard, rather than the beatfest it is in the published adventure. Liebdaga himself I would be giving the Agile mythic ability – he is a literal twin, with a second face on the back of his head, and acts twice each round. Taking him down will bring the PCs to 16th level if they’re not already… and possibly give them a mythic tier if I feel so inclined.

    CHAPTER 6 – THE TWICE-DAMNED PRINCE [16-20]
    The heroes have stopped the release of Liebdaga the Twin and closed the hellmouth, but hundreds of devils and tieflings still are loose in the city, which has fallen into anarchy and chaos in the wake of the explosion. Riots are breaking out across the city, gangs of thugs and criminals are striking with impunity in broad daylight and a mysterious fleet has blockaded the harbour and captured Rapture Island.

    The city is destroying itself, and soon little will remain of the once-proud metropolis unless someone steps up to save it. And if the PCs hold the souls of their loved ones dear, that “Someone” must not be Eccardian Drovenge!

    While the heroes have established a small bastion within the chaos, the city needs their aid, and the disparate nobles an dottari factions need to be united to the cause of saving the city from itself. At this point the efforts of the Children of Westcrown to date bear fruit, as while the people of Westcrown have long become jaded and cynical about their supposed protectors, the Children of Westcrown are a new hope born from a time of darkness, and a symbol to rally behind. From here, the heroes need to combat crises across the city, rally the broken and isolated defenders and inspire good folk to rise up against the chaos and save their city.

    Eccardian, meanwhile, has his own agenda, and will be sending his agents against the heroes at every opportunity. When he feels the city has suffered enough, or when the heroes are too great a thorn in his side, he will enact his final gambit, and draw the heroes to a final and climactic confrontation atop the great statue of Aroden itself!

    NUTS AND BOLTS:

    This is conceptually similar to the published adventure, albeit revised and expanded rather heavily. The plan is to use a similar concept to Song of Silver in gaining control of the various Regos, with typically a number of events in each that the PCs must deal with personally in order to bring order back to the streets. There are eight Regos within the city; The first Rego pacified should bring the PCs to 17th level; The next three should bring them to 18th; the last four should bring them to 19th, and after fighting Eccardian in the Tears of Fire sequence, they should be 20th.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Just got through "CHILDREN OF WESTCROWN - MORE THAN ADVENTURERS", so I have quite a way to go, but a noticeable subset of your list of recruits seems to me to include a set of normally NPCs that could actually be PCs, were some of the players so inclined. (This is thinking along the lines suggested very briefly in the Jade Regent Player's Guide for Ameiko, Koya, Sandru, and/or Shalelu to be PCs.)

    Also, for another candidate ally/recruit in the minor possibilities list, add Livia (Imp). I don't think she's supposed to be redeemable, but it was too awesome to pass up(*) in this awesome PbP (they also had Khazrae on the way to redemption and regeneration, but the campaign completed before this could finish).

    (*):
    The GM at the time (this campaign had serial GM's) played up Livia's weird/crazy psychologist/psychiatrist aspect in a notably comic (although unsettling) way.

    One other thing to consider (and not just for Council of Thieves, but more generally) is to declare NPC classes mostly obsolete, and upgrade most of them to the most closely corresponding PC classes (on a level per level basis):

    • Warrior: Usually upgrades to Fighter (usually no archetype) or Cavalier (by default no archetype, but Castellan, Daring General, Gendarme, Herald Squire, Honor Guard, and even Huntmaster and Strategist archetypes are available for those whose professions match or at least are closely related to the archetype names, especially for mounted martial types); for street/tavern toughs alternatively consider Brawler (by default no archetype), Barbarian (Brutal Pugilist and/or Urban Barbarian), Fighter archetypes (Brawler, Cad, Opportunist, or Pack Mule), Bloody-Knuckled Rowdy Bloodrager, Thug Rogue (Unchained), or Swashbuckler (especially if they are decadent nobles); for Hellknights, definitely include Hellknight prestige class if they have enough levels, and upgrade remaining levels to some type of Cavalier or Fighter.
    • Aristocrat: Usually upgrades to Phantom Thief Rogue (Unchained), but if a character also has enough PC class levels, optionally instead upgrades to Noble Scion prestige class (less powerful, but more thematically appropriate for the idle or at least semi-idle rich); for the more rowdy types (usually decadent youth), consider Swashbuckler or Daring Champion Cavalier or (if they're really boisterous and decadent) Exemplar Brawler.
    • Expert: Usually upgrades to Phantom Thief Rogue tweaked to be more working-class (or maybe use Drop Dead Studios' True Professional Rogue, although it looks a little thin compared to Phantom Thief); as notable exceptions, detective types instead upgrade to Investigator or Urban Ranger, while alchemists by profession upgrade to Alchemist, and the more criminally-oriented types upgrade to some archetype of Rogue (Unchained) other than Phantom Thief.
    • Adept: Upgrades to some type of spellcaster depending upon particulars; for Council of Thieves, Alley Witch would be a good default, but feel free to override with something else if details warrant for any particular NPC.
    • Commoner: This one usually doesn't upgrade, and is Retraining bait (may want to add free retraining, 1 level at a time, to an additional level of the same PC class that the character gains a level in).

    This would make it more costly for players to underestimate townspeople, and thereby make the townspeople seem less like cannon fodder or helpless sheep -- some of them are, but you can't count as much on all of them being thus.

    A lot of the above archetypes and even some of the classes weren't around when Council of Thieves was written.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Working on rebuilding/expanding the city gazeteer and by design the city of westcrown itself. Mostly currently adding personalities to the dottari building a clear government structure and just fleshing things out. Also expanding the religion section by adding founder faiths as either oracles or clerics with the heretic archetype. Was also aiming to expand the cities stat block from Cheliax: The Infernal Empire with actual magic items.

    EtG.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Finally got caught up. Raynulf, Paizo needs to hire you to do Council of Thieves Anniversary Edition.

    Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Council of Thieves / Raynulf's Council of Thieves Thesis (Spoilers) All Messageboards

    Want to post a reply? Sign in.
    Recent threads in Council of Thieves

    ©2002-2017 Paizo Inc.® | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
    Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours, Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific time.

    Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, Starfinder, the Starfinder logo, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Legends, Pathfinder Online, Starfinder Adventure Path, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.