GM Impressions after my first session [SPOILERS]


War for the Crown


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We kicked off our campaign last night with great success! My group is one that typically prefers a higher balance of combat, so I had some initial concerns about how they would receive Part 1. I was quite surprised that nearly all of the players reached out to me afterwards and told me how much they enjoyed everything so far, that the change of pace of using a variety of skills they don't generally get to use was a lot of fun!

In a three hour time block using Roll20 online, we were able to go from starting to the conclusion of social round 6. Here are some random thoughts in no particular order:


  • I had to do a substantial amount of prep work to start this campaign before I felt prepared. To have a handle on the large number of NPC's that the party can interact with as well as their missions and the timing of the events, you want to make sure that you understand the timeline and when (and how) everything that can happen.

  • I assigned the missions to the party as a whole, stating that they must complete a number of missions equivalent to the number of members in the party (my group is six) and that Martella will complete the one that wasn't chosen. This quickly devolved into a discussion on who they thought could/would do a mission, but once the event started all that got thrown out the window due to the other concurrent events happening.

  • There is a lot of information that is being passed back and forth between the party on the missions, the areas, NPC's weakeness, influence, successes, etc. It was pivotal that I provided my gorup with enough handouts so that they could see for themselves all of the information at their leisure rather than asking me questions about it throughout the vent. For my group I created a large spreadsheet using Google Sheets (available here and prepared all of this information in advance. Once the sheet was completely filled out I created a copy and stripped out the majority of the details and left the framework for them to use as we progressed through the scene. As they discovered influence skills, weaknesses, successes and completions, they used this to track their progress and stay on the same page.

  • While there are rules about what is allowed and not allowed into the senate building, I didn't see it mentioned anywhere about all their other gear. I didn't feel that overloaded backpacks are appropriate at this event and they would be leaving those behind. I let pouches, belts and other items be hidden under their clothing, but basically the party has whatever it that is on their person.

  • Using Roll 20, I made the entire map of the senate available to them, including an addition I created for the Gallery above. I then placed tokens for each of the major NPC's in addition all of the members for the Face of the Senate, several custom NPCs and a very large quantities of guards throughout the building. You can tell the group that there are hundreds of people in the building, but if they have a huge open map before them it just doesn't feel the same and create the same awareness.

  • I used the major NPC's presented, the Faces of the Senate NPC's and some custom ones from the forums here. I wanted a lot of options for them to ensure I wasn't forcing them to only work on just the major NPC's. I made it clear to the party that Martella's missions took first priority, but successfully influencing the other NPC's also held bonuses/rewards for them in the future. They understood and in six rounds they have successfully reached two threshold 1 for 3 areas and threshold 2 for two areas as well as complete four of their missions and successfully influence 3 NPC's.

  • When performing discovery, a success means you get one of the skills listed. If they beat the DC by 10 I gave them two of the skills listed.

  • My group definitely prepared for this social event quite well and heavily invested in a large variety of the skills required for this part. As such, nearly everyone had diplomacy and I thought it would be a little more fun if I handed out the influence skills that were discovered not in the order that were listed, but in order of more difficult/infrequently used access first. For example, on the military commander profession soldier was the first provided.

  • I never use sound or music in my game, but from the beginning I wanted to immerse them differently than we ever have before. I wanted them to feel the upper class event as best as I could. Using Fanburst, I found numerous tracks that I have used so far to provide ambiance. I have tracked picked for all of the major events through Stavian's speech, here: Tavern, People talking in line outside the event, Music inside the senate, More music inside the senate, People talking, bees, Facing Malphene, Whispering before Stavian's arrival, Fanfare for Stavian's arrival, Music during light supper, Voting ambience, Crowd boos, crowd cheers, Yelling for order, gavel banging, red carpet, applause for stavian, background music for stavians speech, stabbing sound effect, Battle, Teleport.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Huh, ye are running the game in Roll20 week before first module becomes available in roll20. I mean, sure its cheaper to prep yourself, but still finding that amusing.


I took a look at what they offered and felt that I could do a better job given the additional content I was putting in. I have the encounter library through Hero Lab and used the export/import function and was able to get all of the creatures in their pretty easily.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Excellent recap, and solid going to get through that far in three hours with six people over Roll20!

I'm loving the compilation of sound effects/background tracks. Definitely going to use a couple of those to add ambiance to my own game.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thank you for sharing your feedback and tools with us! This is definitely useful information. I had been planning on doing many of the same things you did, so it's good to know how it worked out.

And if I might say, that spreadsheet is exemplary! I had been setting up individual Roll20 handouts for each character, but this is a great supplement if not replacement. Also, really appreciate the Fanburst links. That definitely saved me some search time!


Wow -- a lot of working putting all that together.

Is anyone doing a campaign journal for this?


I'm writing a campaign journal on Obsidian Portal, link here. We've had two full sessions which has completed Part 1 and we stopped just as they found out the hidden effect of the senate aide pins. We start Part 2 in earnest tomorrow night!

I have a few more comments to add about part 1:

  • If running with a group of four PC's, I think that the NPC list that the book provides is sufficient to keep them busy and would fit snugly into the rounds provided. I ran with a group of six and included all of the additional NPC's from the Faces of the Senate. They successfully influenced all but one of the major NPC's and added four of the additional Faces of the Senate NPCs. I think if you run with six players, you should provide them those extra interactions to give them a choice of where to go next. This empowers them to feel less railroaded into only certain ones and lets them pick based upon where their skill strengths are.

  • Another 6 PC party thing to consider is the number of rounds that the party has to accomplish all of their tasks. At 6 people they effectively have 50% more than what the timeline was written for. Because of this I shortened all rounds by -1 down to a minimum of 1 rounds.

  • My groups interaction with Trant resulted in violence, but they quickly pulled out and called in the guards themselves rather than slaughter the room (which is definitely how I thought they would do it). The guards let 4 of the 6 party members go to resume their attendance, but I held back 2 of the group to "sort out all of the details" of the engagement for two rounds.

  • The DC28 Perception to find the key hidden in the sheets may seem really unlikely to happen at first, but remember that characters are aware of the heavy skills use of this adventure may have prepared in advance for that. Two of my characters hit this perception on their first attempt.


  • Would it be possible to get the addition you created for the gallery? I start running this for 6 players on Monday your work with that Google Sheet has saved me SO much time so far.

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