18 - Slave dock. Everyone in the city knows this is where slaves are bought sold. No, you haven't been to the island section, but it's common knowledge that's where it takes place.
22 - Sunset Gate. It's the primary entrance/exit to the city.
24 - Old Temple of Erastil. Reported to be the hideout of the Bastards of Erebus.
27 - Orbigan Gate. The Orbigan family protects this gate for the city. It separates the "nice" part of town from the "bad" part of town. If you look scruffy or dangerous, you will be stopped. What they do when they stop you varies depending on your racial background, if you have weapons, how you answer questions, etc.
30 - Jacovo's Stables. You are not allowed to return after Jacovo's conversion to Asmodeus.
31 - Bruised Eel Tavern. Yakopulio is a bartender here.
32 - Pegasi Bridge. Bridge built by the Pegasi family long, long ago. It connects Rego Crua to Rego Spera.
33 - Canaroden. This is the longest canal in Westcrown and the least changed since its creation. Running beneath the Pegasi Bridge that arch more than 30 feet overhead, the Canaroden is twice as deep as the canals of the Regicona. There are walls on each side retain the great 15-foot-tall friezes of Ulatir. 20 figures adorn the southern wall, while 12 statues adorn the northern wall.
34 - Vizio's Tavern. Where you initially gathered. Owned by Janiven and Ariel.
35 - Limehouse Theater. Has recently been rebuilt after a fire. Previously owned by Moshley's and Jimmy's parents.
37 - Rolan the Tickerer. He runs the crafting shop.
38 - Delvehaven. This is the locked down Pathfinder Society lodge. Only fools go anywhere near it. Even dumber fools try to get inside it.
40 - Vaneo Arvanxi. This is the current residence of the Lord Mayor Aberian Arvanxi.
44 - Qatada Nessudida. Largest temple to Asmodeus. Hard to miss it.
46 - Shrine to Aroden. (your safehouse resides underneath)
Mathalen Likes to meditate and talk in strange ways. Dislikes mundane labor.
Rizzardo Big strong man who likes to swear constantly. He's good friends with Ermolos.
Vitti Nobody spoke to him. He looks like a strange fellow however.
Yakopulio Gnome and bartender at the Bruised Eel. Doesn't believe in gods. She is very well informed about what goes on in the city as people tell her many things as a bartender.
Jamenez - dottari lieutenant This guy works directly for the Church of Asmodeus in exchange for a promotion to lieutenant. He does not have a squad of dottari like other lieutenants. Furthermore, his armor makes him look more like a Hellknight, something he wanted but was denied. He is extremely brutal.
Jeannine Daughter of an Asmodean priest. The girl is quite evil and is used to using her father's relationship to get away with many things.
Current year: 4709AR
The city map above is accurate, but of course lacks details on locations. Those you have to find out later.
Before you read any further, please note some of these things have been changed by the the Council Chairman (me) to make this setting more sinister and corrupt. What is below is known to just about any lowly citizen of Westcrown.
The nation of Cheliax was founded in 3007 as a frontier zone of Taldor. Westcrown was the capital of Cheliax, formed around 4000AR. Westcrown was also the location of the temples for Aroden, the god of humanity. Six hundred years later, Aroden died and the country was thrown into a civil war. In 4636AR, the Thrice Damned House of Thrun seized control of Cheliax and moved the capital to Egorian.
Three years later, the Qatada Nessudidia (the largest temple to Asmodeus) began construction in Westcrown. Now, worship of Asmodeus is very common; anyone who worships another deity is watched carefully by other citizens (many citizens in the city are known spies for the government) and often go missing. With the capital moved to Egorian, parts of Westcrown have fallen into decay. Furthermore, the citizens of Westcrown engage in all sorts of decadence. Slave trading is a big business and public gladiatorial battles to the death along with violent performance plays (where the life of the actor is in jeopardy) are the most common forms of entertainment. The city is guarded by both the dottari (city guards) and the Hellknights. Punishment is swift and usually deadly, although at times bureaucratic squabbles break out between the dottari and the hellknights. Occasionally the city’s secret police find evidence that someone is a paladin (nobody knows for sure if it is true), and they are publicly executed as a sacrifice to Asmodeus in the Qatada Nessudidia [this happens about twice a year].
But even more disturbing was approximately 30 years ago (4676AR), the Pathfinder Lodge was closed in Westcrown and the “night terror” began (most believe this is no coincidence related). Creatures were reported lurking in the shadows of Westcrown, killing dottari, hellknights and citizens alike at night. Every year, both mayor Dargentu Vheed (during his reign from 4661AR to 4689AR) and Lord Mayor Arvanxi (4689AR-Present) have commissioned a group of adventurers to destroy the creatures, and every year the adventurers are killed fairly quickly (you can place bets with your local bookie as to how long they survive – similar to Running Man movie). As a result, the city lives under an extremely strict curfew, requiring citizens to stay indoors once the sun sets. Only a few streets are lit (via huge bonfires, sometimes with a criminal inside for additional fuel for the fire) and patrolled by the dottari. Those who must travel other streets use huge lanterns on sticks, but every so often even these individuals are killed or reported missing. Every establishment maintains bedrolls for those unlucky individuals who do not leave in time, and are charged for an overnight stay. Suffice to say, street crime at night is practically non-existent. Some criminals break into homes and businesses just prior to nightfall, stay there the entire night, and leave in the morning (making home invasion and rape of both men and women the most common nighttime crime). No criminal is dumb enough to actually try to leave at night. Everyone has their own theory as to what exactly the shadow creatures are or how they came into being, but nobody has lived long enough to report their findings, and nobody has ever killed a night creature and produced a body! This has been an ongoing problem for 30 years….think about just how terrible, and unfortunately common, this situation is to the people of Westcrown.
And furthermore, as if it couldn't get any crazier, last year the Lord Mayor Arvanxi openly considered the usefulness of binding powerful fiends for petty entertainments. This was quickly shot down by the other noble families (and now the Lord Mayor denies ever have made the comment, but it's well know he did to just about any citizen of Westcrown), but the government is getting rather desperate in its attempt to distract the locals. Maybe the government might consider some other forms of entertainment....
The city has roughly 114,000 inhabitants, so just about anything can be purchased. Nearly 80% of the population are Human, about 5% are Halflings (used mostly as slaves), 5% are Tieflings (which are even lower than slaves - think untouchable caste system from India), and 10% are others like elves, half-orcs, dwarves. Usually, these additional races are here temporarily as traders, although some have set up shop as import/export businesses with strong ties to their homelands.
Church of Asmodeus
The Church of Asmodeus has a modest presence in Westcrown (about 60% of the population in Westcrown attend services at the Church of Asmodeus at least once a week), but it is not the focus of the church, despite the gigantic Qatada Nessudidia temple. Why not? Because the city of Westcrown is on the decline and the church has moved its resources and focus elsewhere in Cheliax. That doesn't mean that it's not around, it's just not the focus of the Church. Almost all citizens are expected to attend church once or twice a week. Your character will attend church in this campaign, as everyone in Westcrown attends church. It is how the citizens of Westcrown have been "brainwashed" into their current alignment of Lawful Evil. While not everyone is evil in Westcrown, you'd guess that probably 50% of the population would register as evil, 20% some kind of Lawful Neutral, and 30% some sort of good that somehow just endures the crap and keeps their mouth shut to stay alive and hope things improve.
Worship of a three other deities are tolerated.
1) Abadar is tolerated and perhaps half of the non-evil citizens attend services (so roughly 25% of the population), but vandalism and other petty crimes against them are somewhat encouraged and the dottari will not investigate. Because of the harassment they receive, about half of the non-evil citizens attend services at the Church of Asmodeus, where their morals are slowly turning more evil.
2) Worship of Norgorber is officially outlawed but known that it exists, but their services are clearly monitored by spies. Perhaps 10% of the population worships Norgorber, but that's your best guess. No one is going to jail for worshiping Norgorber and if you want to know where the temple is, you can probably find it if you know the wrong kind of people, but your activities are almost certainly being reported. It is rumored that some of the noble houses are actually worshipers of Norgorber (one of the major reasons people don't go to jail for worshiping Norgorber) rather than Asmodeus since they don't believe in worshiping devils, as they are seen more like tools than things to worship. Since many nobles are vying for power, use of assassin techniques is highly prized. But because of the inability to operate at night, it is more of a spy network of nobles than an assassin network.
3) Worship of Zon-Kuthon is permitted, although there aren't any temples and it has been difficult to get people to join because many of its activities are done at night, which hasn't really been possible for the last 30 years. Perhaps 5% of the population worships Zon-Kuthon, but prior to the night terrors it was probably higher.
Worship of other devils is fairly unheard of, but some whisper that when devils compete for power in hell, it can surface in the mortal world.
Hellknights versus Dottari. What's the difference?:
So, most of the city guards are generally considered dottari. They are "official" guards and policemen of the city and work directly for different folks in the city. Some dottarri do specific tasks like guard waterways, guard gates, or basic patrols. They do not patrol at night except for just a few streets that are lit via bonfires. Dotarri do not respond to calls for help at night. To many citizens, they think their motto is "Scream all you want, nobody is coming to help you."
The Hellknights work specifically for different noble families, or they might be hired by someone who has enough money to pay them for a task. They do not care for maintaining the "law", as that is lowly work for the dottari. Instead, they are like special forces that come in, kick ass, and do what needs to be done per their orders. Anyone or anything in their way that prevents them from doing their task is usually executed on the spot. Ironically, the targets of the hellknights are usually taken alive to be questioned. How long they remain alive, or in what condition they remain alive, is a different story.
There are different "divisions" of hellknights, depending upon who controls them. The Order of the Rack is the most famous and largest division of the hellknights within the city, controlled by the Taranik family. They will generally assist the dottari if things get out of hand, as the noblemen don't want things getting too crazy. There are other orders of Hellknights, but who they work for and why they do what they do are sometimes a mystery.
The Hellknights make it clear that they are superior in every respect to the dottari, and most dottari are people who applied to be hellknights and were rejected. Most hellknights are all to happy to remind them about this fact. The bureaucrats who run the dottari and the nobles who control various hellknight divisions often do not see eye-to-eye and behind the scenes political power plays happen frequently between them.
Hellknights rarely get involved in local law enforcement issues, nor will they patrol at night. The Hellknights are also reported to have their own jail, which is rumored to be both inescapable by prisoners and impregnable to outside attack.
Citizen Spy Network:
Citizens are encouraged to report suspicious activity to the local dottari. Citizens receive coin for their reports, entertainment from criminals, and enter the good graces of those in charge should someone make a charge on them.
There are however, official "spies" by several noble houses. These spies make periodic reports to their patrons, and if needed, the hellknight division of that noble house is sent in to deal with it. This is why hellknights often try to capture people and take them alive to be questioned. Get in their way, and you likely die. Feel free to report that to the dottari. They'll get right on it, after hell freezes over.
Character Backgrounds & Creation Rules:
You have grown up in Westcrown. You have had to deal with the night terrors for the last 30 years, the watch of citizen spies, and the terror of the dottari and hellknight’s version of justice (suspects burned at the stake kind of thing, or tortured until they confess, then burned at the stake, depending on how much time they have). You know several people who have been killed in gladiatorial battles staged on behalf of the public’s entertainment. In short, you despise your city, your rulers and the government’s inability to deal with the nightly terrors, but are unsure what to do or who to trust. Spies are everywhere and will report any suspicions to the dotarri or worse, the hellknights. Please include how you dislike your situation in your background. Please include what you do in Westcrown for a living (and does that make sense in your skill list on your character sheet?). Do not pick a background that says you work as a hellknight by day. You might have tried to become a hellknight or a member of the dottari and were rejected.
Please pick one trait from the Council of Thieves Players Guide (download it from Paizo, it's free) and make sure it fits your background (and pick one additional trait, for a total of two traits). Also note that you are unlikely to be a successful thief that steals money for a living: they don’t live long when they have to operate in daylight. If you are caught, you are usually killed immediately or put in a gladiator setting and killed there (eventually).
Your background may also be part of five specific noble houses (all of which are in decline). The background could be that you are a member of the family, a servant, a slave, or something else. While there are about 10 noble families in Westcrown, you may chose to be part of only these five (if led by a specific individual, I have noted that in the description):
1) House Tilernos – Led by Kajen Tilernos (LG Paladin – under constant threat of being discovered)
2) House Phandros – Led by Marcus Phandros (N Bard)
3) House Khollarix
4) House Rosala
5) House Mezinas – Led by Bartolo Mezinas (LN monk)
Character Creation Rules
20 Point Buy. No stat below 8 (including racial modifiers). No Firearms. No third party. Otherwise probably okay. 2 Traits, one of which must be a campaign trait that fits your background. Please write a character background.
Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, and Wizard. (Yes, Paladin is missing from the list, for a very important reason: they die). If you really want to play a class not on this list, it will require you to help walk me through various rules and issues with the class, with links, on an occasional basis. The more time I spend dealing with this, the less time I'm working on the campaign. Most archetypes are allowed, but remember this is an urban campaign so make sure your archetype reflects this fact. Do not pick an archetype that is woodlands or primitive based (especially true for Barbarians and Druids). Also, given the setting, petty thieves are usually killed quickly in Westcrown since they can’t work at night (those that do are killed by the Shadow Creatures), so take this into account if you play a rogue. Clerics who worship a deity other than Asmodeus can openly worship a deity of LN, LE or NE alignment (please see the section on the Church of Asmodeus in the settings spoiler for more information). If you wish to worship a deity of another alignment, you must do so in secret or risk being discovered by the citizen spy network. How does your cleric have any congregation if you fear the citizen spy network? Please include how you have managed to do this in your background. If you are a religious character, please send me your deity as I want you to be sure how that works and if you are comfortable with it before play begins so you can roleplay it. Slitting a young girl's throat in front of the congregation isn't for the feint of heart.
150gp regardless of class. You were either given it, inherited it, stole it, worked for it, or whatever. Please include how you obtained the money in your background.
Anything other than pure Neutral or Chaotic Evil is allowed in this campaign, but with conditions.
First, this game involves a mild rebellion and requires some degree of lying by the players to people in authority. As such, a Paladin simply won’t work as I don’t have the time nor the patience to debate if a Paladin can do this or that. In addition, Paladins are under threat of being discovered by their aura and put to death, so let’s just not have them in the campaign as PCs, thanks. Chaotic Good/Neutral Good/Chaotic Neutral are ideal alignments for this campaign. Lawful good will prove problematic unless you are okay with lies/bluffs (another problem for Paladins). Lawful Neutral is okay as long as you can somehow come to grips that you are a rebel (let me know how you do this). Lawful Evil is also allowed given that it is the most common alignment in Westcrown, but you will need to justify it in your character background and have a solid motivation, and be aware that disruptive (e.g. chaotic) evil behavior will not be tolerated. Please note that selfish greed is not considered evil by the GM, so if your character is motivated by greed, that’s not an evil alignment. Stealing is evil, but greed by itself is not. If you play a character who steals, please select the Neutral Evil alignment. You will not be permitted to steal from other players, regardless of how well the dice favor you.
The Council Chairman suggests these skills if they make sense for your character: Stealth, Bluff, Sense Motive, Knowledge (Local), Knowledge (History), Perform (Act). The Council Chairman believes these skill will prove less useful: Survival, Swim, and Ride. The Chairman wants to emphasize that skills will be used in this campaign (and your skill results can be a matter of life or death), so being only a combat junkie with minimal skill points will likely result in your death faster than fighting.
Leveling and HP Generation
Let's say your class is a D8 class, and normally you would roll 1d8 and get your HP. In my game, you roll 1d6+2. This prevents you from getting a really bad HP #, while still limiting you to 8HP max.
So, 1d12 becomes 1d10+2. 1D10 is 1d8+2. 1d8 is 1d6+2. 1d6 is 1d4+2. This should allow you to on average have a higher HP than average + 1 method, but still rewards you for a good roll without a huge penalty for a bad roll. Please make your roll in the discussion thread.
The Chairman again wants to emphasize that you will need skill points, so favored class into skill points is recommended for those with reasonable amounts of health. The Council Chairman emphasized that by third level, you will need to invest something for abundant healing (wand, potions, etc.), as the Chairman's jaw dropped to the floor when he saw what you will have to endure. However, having a dedicated healer in the group isn't exactly necessary (it's certainly nice to have). Furthermore, the Council Chairman suggests you invest in things that boost your saves, particularly fortitude. The Chairman also recommends that you don't grow too attached to your second level characters.
Leveling System & Posting Expectations:
Essentially, the adventure path suggests when characters should be at a specific level in the campaign. If you’re doing the basics, you’ll be on track. If you’re doing more than the basics, you’ll be ahead of the curve. If you’re being a tag-along, you’ll be behind the curve. It’s really that simple. I also don't have the patience to track XP, so thankfully the campaign tells me when you are supposed to be a certain level.
Doing more than the basics involves the following: frequent posting, interesting posts with good roleplaying, combat that is also descriptive (rather than “I swing a sword [dice]” becomes “I jump on top of the table and from there leap down with a warcry, attempting to put my blade through his skull! [dice]”), and whatever else to make the game and story interesting for people to read. You are an active contributor to the game’s story, not just a player.
Here are some examples that will slow down your leveling progress: lack of posting without explanation or posts that are 1 sentence long that don’t really have an action or effective roleplaying component (posting for posting sake won’t cut it), extremely bad roleplaying, extensive use of OOC text in your gameplay posts (use the discussion forum for that please), making it difficult to figure out what the heck you are doing in your post because it wasn’t descriptive enough, assuming extensive movements/actions of others (either PCs or NPCs) in your posts (you may assume basic actions like handshakes or other very brief things). You cannot simply “tag along” and be rewarded in my campaign. You must be an active contributor to the game and story.
Lastly, please do not read spoilers that are not directed to you and try play with in-character knowledge only. Occasionally, I reserve the right to change the game’s storyline, NPCs and other factors as I see fit to make the game more interesting.
What if the GM screws up on a rule?:
I do not know all the rules. Please send any rule issue to my attention immediately via PM, with a link if possible. I will try to fix the situation as fast as possible. I also reserve the right to ignore the rule as GM for sake of gameplay/story/interpretation, although I would only do that sparingly and correct it for the next time. Correcting the GM’s poor rules gives you a bonus to your XP growth rate, so if you find I’m making a mistake, sending me a PM is rewarded, not punished.
Map System in Place - Touch screen only players need not play:
I’ll be using Ditzie for maps. As such, if you cannot adjust a map on your computer, you cannot play the game. I can occasionally accommodate a player who is on a phone or touch-pad device, but I’m not going to move you every single time. Please go to THIS MAP and see if you can move stuff around from the device you will post the most from. If you can’t, then you can’t play in this campaign. I will do my best to make the maps enjoyable. However, we have some players in the campaign who are very familiar with this map program and can offer assistance and recommendations to the GM as needed to improve things.
Warning! This game has smart NPCs!:
You mean the NPCs don't sit in that room all day waiting for me to kill them?
Consider yourself warned. This is not a computer game where NPCs sit and will wait around in their room for you to come back and kill them. My goal is not to kill you or defeat you as players, but to give you some real-life action so that your accomplishments are real. The Council Chairman reminds you that planning ahead and thinking about things strategically (when possible) is awfully useful. Furthermore, if you must "kill" someone or something, you think about how much noise it might make or what to do with the body if you don't want it discovered. Try to envision Rambo sneaking up on the prison camp, killing all quiet like, and then eventually he's discovered and then he unleashes the can of whoop ass while getting away. If you go in guns blazing, expect guns blazing back at you (symbolically speaking). Also, don't do stuff that will get you reported by the citizen spy network, and if you think you might be reported, well, you have to deal with that potential spy. How you deal with it, I leave it to you and your alignment preference.
Also, if you do things that take time, then NPCs are given time to think, react, and plan. Taking 20 on something involves TIME. How much time? I dunno, but when you take 20, be aware that is a time-stopper and I may have NPCs interrupt you.
Finally, you will have access to friendly NPCs. You will notice that the friendly NPCs are also smart, but they will not be heroes. You are the focus of the game.
LOOT Distribution and YOU!:
Ahh, loot, the destroyer of friendships and campaigns. You cannot hide/steal loot from other players. Sorry. I will also be tracking loot and who claims what on an excel file (to be linked here in the near future). The group will be forced to use my loot distribution system for the first few levels, then the group may vote to change the Chairman's methodology.
Generally speaking, should you find something you MIGHT use, you should claim it. It never hurts you to claim an item. Should more than one person wish to claim an item, it will go to either the one with the lowest total wealth estimate (maintained by the Chairman) OR whomever can clearly use the item more effectively (determined by the Chairman). Anyway, that's probably not going to happen. Furthermore, the group can have the "party" claim an item, but held by a specific PC (like a wand of healing).
Any item claimed is then owned by that player (or party), and then the non-claimed items are eventually sold, and the coins distributed based upon average non-sale wealth estimates per player, less what is claimed. Yeah, it's complicated, but once you experience it in action you'll quickly understand how it tries to keep everyone roughly even in loot. People who claim items will never be worse off, since they may choose to sell it later. Thus, I recommend claiming items if you can use it.
Coins are only to be distributed once this selling process is complete. This will happen periodically, but usually once per level.
If at any time you believe your character's wealth generation is ~75% or less the recommended wealth by level, please send me a PM with your calculation/concern.
Now, if you had to spend a lot of gold on a service (like a resurrection), then that's part of the wealth calculation. I'll try to keep people at or above the wealth by level guidelines.
Lastly, sale rates will change during the course of the game depending upon your actions. Initial sell rate is 50%. If it's in the book, it's also available for sale in Westcrown.
This game is set in a horrific world. While not everyone in the city is evil, it has more than its fair share of evil and corruption. What you might consider "evil" is considered commonplace. However, much of this is because of the the Thrice Damned House Thrune's rule. The city of Westcrown prior to Aroden's death was a beacon of light to civilization. Keep this in mind when you try to "save" the city from itself. It was once a great city for mankind, and it can be again. It is up to you.
Dice Rolling Skills
Part of me hates the dice rolling for social skills, but alas character stats must have meaning. For sake of roleplay, I will ask that you first make a dice roll on the skill you expect to use, say Intimidate. Roll your dice and do a preview. Oh, you rolled a 2, and you have a +1 modifier for a total of 3. Now, I'd like you to roleplay an intimidation total of 3. Don't write something downright frightful and then expect me to have to react to a total skill of 3. That's no fun for anyone reading the gameplay thread. Instead, write how you threaten them, and then drop your knife at the wrong time. Then hit the submit post button. Role playing bad results can be as much fun as role playing great results.
Here is a recent example of what I did when I rolled very poorly on diplomacy to meeting 2 people in the sewers in a recent game. Once I realized how poorly I rolled, I edited a very well thought out introduction into this kind of post:
"Hail great sewer crawlers! I am Dagnobar. You are Pellius and Marixite." Dagnobar suddenly sneezes right into their face. "Ahh, excuse me, spicy alley cat sandwich always does that to me. Anyway, you are also greatly outnumbered and outmatched, but I want to emphasize you are not in immediate danger. Except for, the walking garbage disposal that likes to eat people, and the fact that there are people with really big swords next to you, and as one of my comrades says, overzealous archers. I'd say you're in great shape. Perhaps you should just stay all still like and talk." Dagnobar coughs for a second, hacks up something, and spits a bit of fur into the sewer. "Excuse me, spicy alley cat must have still had some fur on it."
Also, this may be a home-rule (GMs in the house can let me know), but a roll of "1" is not an auto-fail on a skill check (it is for saves and attacks, but not skills in my world). Please add your 1 to your skill total when figuring out your result.
I hope we get some exciting gameplay. Because no one will have a "dump" stat, everyone can post whatever they feel like posting. Well written posts, exciting posts, daring (but not stupid) actions may receive an invisible GM bump to your outcome as long as your relevant stat is 10 or higher.
Lastly, this game is not about thieves really. It is a very poorly chosen adventure path title. You are not joining a council of thieves, you do not have to make a thief, etc. This is why I have labeled the campaign Heroes of Westcrown.