Hey, it's Chad. In today's blog, designer and brand new Lone Shark Games president Keith Richmond takes a break from talking about Core Principles to wax nostalgic about his long journey shepherding Curse of the Crimson Throne. I'll comment along as needed.
Almost a decade ago, I ran the RPG version of Curse of the Crimson Throne for a group of players that included my friends Chad Brown and Tanis O'Connor. It's a fantastic adventure that starts you as a group of characters all wronged by a deranged dealer of drugs and kidnapper of kids, drawn together by a mysterious gypsy fortune teller to bring him to justice. From there, you become embroiled in saving the city of Korvosa—often from itself.
It has everything that makes for a great urban adventure full of morally ambiguous allies and enemies. You parkour over, under, and through the city to defeat criminal and political plots, a healthy mix of mundane greed and murder alongside mystical rituals of mass murder. As you investigate, you interact with such a fantastic cast of characters that you feel like the city becomes yours to protect, not just a backdrop for the dungeon of the day. When you finally end it by stabbing your magic sword into the heart of a centuries-old curse that's plagued the Crimson Throne, you feel a genuine sense of accomplishment at having changed the city's fate. It's the only adventure path I've GM'd multiple times, the anniversary hardcover is excellent, and I'd cheerfully encourage you to play it.
Back to the card game: about five years later, when I was looking for a new game project, Chad and Tanis lured me onto the PACG team. (After I'd introduced Keith to everyone, I casually mentioned to Mike that he'd GM'd Curse... three times.—Chad) Once I'd proven I could be helpful, one of my first big projects was to help architect the Curse of the Crimson Throne set. I still have spreadsheets from 2014 with some of the initial ideas. I'll admit that 5 years more experience designing, the help of the full team, and being able to leverage Core were tremendous improvements over those nascent ideas. Still, it is with great happiness and pride that I look forward to seeing this box, with our names on the front, make it into your hands. (What he said!—Chad)
But more than enough about why I care about this product, and on to why you should!
One of the defining features of the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path is how it centers around Korvosa. Throughout several adventures, you work to save the city from crime, madness, plague, traitors, and ancient dark forces. At the same time, the city is there for you when you need a helping hand, perhaps to procure new equipment, gather information, or heal whatever injury, disease, or even death that has befallen you. (Even more helpful than going through your pockets looking for loose change.—Chad)
The very first scenario rewards you with your first supporter, Field Marshall Cressida Kroft (She's the best!—Chad), commander of Korvosa's guards. Impressed by your heroism, and sorely in need of help, she'll happily provide you all manner of armor and weapons. If you want her help obtaining spells, you'll need to check off that box on the card by spending a supporter feat on her. You'll receive a steady supply of supporter feats throughout your adventures, so the city of Korvosa levels up alongside you. Just like in the RPG, supporters in the ACG can change in and out, gain power, and even die. Each group will favor different supporters, and you may eventually need to make tough decisions about which supporters to obtain or save from calamity.
Curse of the Crimson Throne also introduces you to Korvosa's Hero, Blackjack (Also the best!—Chad). Blackjack is a masked hero who has fought for Korvosa's poor for centuries. Fortunately for you, the current Blackjack is ready to give up his mantle to a worthy successor. Someone heroic. Someone adventurous. Someone who also fights to save the people of Korvosa. (Sound like anyone you know?—Chad)
This special role can be earned by any one character, adds to your existing character powers instead of replacing them like a normal role, and comes with several wonderful toys.
Harrows have a very different art style from traditional blessings. Also, apparently a Hag with an eyeball in her mouth. Ick.
Curse of the Crimson Throne makes extensive use of the Harrow, a Tarot-like deck of cards used to predict the future and play card games. Folks familiar with the Harrow Deck that Mike helped design several years back will not be surprised that a very similar deck has ended up in Curse, in the form of special Harrow blessings. There are 6 suits (Hammers, Keys, Shields, Books, Stars, and Crowns) representing different metaphysical concepts and also mapping to six familiar attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma). Each of those suits has 9 cards that correspond to the classic 9 alignments that describe the struggle between Good and Evil, Law and Chaos. Mechanically, this means that some Harrows are a lot kinder than others and they cover a wide variety of effects, both when played and when they show up as the hour (that is, are faceup on the hourglass discard pile). Also, following our design principle of more unique cards=good, you get 54 unique Harrow blessings in Curse of the Crimson Throne. More than enough to keep things interesting!
Each adventure in Curse is themed to a particular Harrow suit. For instance, the first adventure is themed to the suit of Keys, and it cares a lot about chases, criminals, finding lost treasures, and other dexterous undertakings, so you get an automatic 1d4 on Dexterity non-combat checks. At the start of the adventure, each character will draw an appropriate Harrow and get to use it throughout the entire adventure, getting a special benefit each time they play it. And if you're seeking a little bit of extra challenge or just more Harrowing flavor, each suit has a wildcard you can add that evokes the right kind of flavor and actions.
My forum avatar has been the Harrow Rabbit Prince for years because of fond memories of Tanis's barbarian calling Chad's paladin "Bunnyman" for an entire campaign after he got it. (Yeah, she totally stopped after the campaign.—Chad) We even put out a promo card in Chad's honor.
I'm in no way suggesting that you should use the Harrows as an excuse for silly nicknames, but I can confirm that it's hilarious.
Adventure Card Game Designer