Adventure Time: Edge of Anarchy

Friday, September 13, 2019

Keith, again, here to kick off another new series of blogs. Each blog in this series will attempt to do a behind-the-scenes look at an adventure in an adventure path. We’ll start with Edge of Anarchy, the first Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure, but there are plenty more Adventure Paths after that. Each blog will include anecdotes from design and suggested options for changing the difficulty of scenarios or spicing up replay. I invite you to “Play It Your Way” my way. It’s fun! (Warning: Many of these suggestions increase the complexity and/or difficulty of the game, so are most appropriate for experienced players!)

The Harrows, Wildcard 1; Harrow of Books, Harrow of Crowns, Harrow of Hammers, Harrow of Keys, Harrow of Shields, Harrow of Stars Harrow Suit Effects: Adventure 1-6

Harrow of Keys really spices up Edge of Anarchy.

In Curse of the Crimson Throne, each adventure is associated with a specific Harrow suit, so consider adding the Harrows wildcard that corresponds to the Harrow suit for that adventure. For Edge of Anarchy, that’s the Harrow of Keys. If you don’t want to just increase the difficulty by adding a wildcard, you could make the game a little easier by starting each scenario with a free exploration of the Base and making the Base not close if it’s out of supporters. That’s an easy way to make the supporters a lot more accessible to the whole group, which might be more fun for some groups.

A grinning, sinister-looking human in ragged clothes and a wide-brimmed hat holds a chain attached to a collar around the neck of an enormous crocodile.

Fagin from Oliver Twist meets Captain Hook.

Edge of Anarchy’s first scenario is Haunted Fortunes. It’s adapted from (and shares its name with) the first part of the first chapter of the RPG Adventure Path. I think it’s my favorite introduction to an RPG Adventure Path: Each character is invited to think of some reason to hate a despicable criminal, Gaedren Lamm, then gets to rescue a bunch of orphans on the way to bringing justice to him. Drawn together by this mutual hatred and a mysterious fortune-telling, you instantly create a party and dive right into play. When I ran it for my wife, her character had two reasons to hate Lamm: he’d kidnapped her and her twin sister, and he’d fed my wife’s character to his alligator. (Don’t worry: she got better. Sort of. She also eventually found her sister. Sort of.)

The Perils, Wildcard 0; Ablaze, Confusing, Deadly, Hostile, Unhallowed, Wearisome The Onslaughts, Wildcard 0; Besieged, Desperate, Hazardous, Impoverished, Monstrous, Withering

For extra fun and profit!

For this scenario I’d additionally consider any of the Perils wildcard Wearisome, the Onslaughts wildcard Impoverished, or the Perils wildcard Hostile (in roughly increasing order of difficulty). Wearisome isn’t too painful at this level, but it does keep people’s turns from getting too long. Impoverished lets you start with a better hand, at the cost of losing some cards and being closer to death; not ideal, but also not too bad in your first scenario. Hostile makes a lot more checks a lot more dangerous, so is a good pick for those seeking a real challenge. Villain scenarios can also often use an extra location to increase difficulty for experienced groups, so I’d add the next location on the list; if you’re a group of 6, I’d add Abandoned Shacks.

Verik Vancaskerkin, a male human guardsman with a halberd in one hand and a longbow slung across his back.

So loyal he still wears his uniform while committing his treason.

The second scenario is A City Gone Mad. The villain here, Verik Vancaskerkin, doesn’t actually know about the dastardly deeds of the thugs working for him, so if you manage to find the Evidence or talk him into surrendering, you get a bonus ally and blessing for your trouble. Which is great. Apparently it’s news to Verik that people calling themselves “The Cow Hammer Boys” and operating out of a shop called “All The World’s Meat” at the address “22 Stirge Street” were up to no good, where “no good” is selling people meat. No, not selling people meat—selling people meat. Cannibalism. (I’m not sure how that term works if you’re an elf eating a dwarf, though.) When I ran the RPG and the PCs reported what they found to Verik, I assumed the proper reaction to “Sir, the men have been moonlighting as assassins who turn people into ribeyes. Also, how was dinner last night?” would be shocked bewilderment followed by vomiting.

I’d recommend the Perils wildcard Deadly here. I also like adding a location (Alley for 6 characters). After that, I’d use any of Wearisome, Impoverished, or Hostile, especially if you didn’t use them in Haunted Fortunes.

Ezren, the iconic wizard, uses his staff to ward off an attack from a monstrous yellow-and-black-striped spider while Harsk, the iconic ranger, takes aim with his crossbow in the background.

We grow big spiders in these parts.

Before playing 1B: The Ambassador’s Secret, please observe its FAQ.

The Ambassador’s Secret is an example of the ‘Solve the Mystery’ style scenario, where you get free examinations that let you move cards around between locations while you try to deal with Trigger barriers. I made the first test scenario of this type for Season of the Righteous 3, based on a concept I’d intended for this very path. I got to experiment with the format a bunch more in other seasons, especially Season of the Plundered Tombs. This scenario also led to my favorite testing anecdote ever: After the monster Giant Fly was shuffled randomly into the location Spider Nest, the tester commented “Either a bad idea for the fly, or it's off to get revenge for its kind,” to which another tester asked “Well, how big are the spiders?” I supplied the above picture, and got a prompt response of “Bad idea then.”

The Perils wildcard Ablaze, dealing Poison damage instead of Fire, is a very thematic (albeit painful) option for this scenario. To increase the difficulty, consider shortening the first scenario power to just “At the end of your turn, you may examine the top card of your location,” or changing the final phrase to “then put that card on top of a random location.” Requiring an additional Evidence (by removing the “or equal to” from the second scenario power) is also a solid option.

The Dead Warrens can easily be the toughest scenario in the adventure. This is true for thematic reasons and also because it was originally the final scenario of the adventure. For story and pacing reasons, we wanted to keep the chase after Trinia and the execution together.

The Perils wildcard Confusing is a perfectly thematic choice for this Derro-filled scenario. I also like the Onslaughts wildcard Monstrous, but I’d require that all of the monsters have the Undead trait (you’ll need to find them before building locations). If you’re playing on Legendary and haven’t increased # to 2, this scenario could really use it since level 2 has a bunch of Undead.

Flow chart for resolving a city chase

Chase rules can get a little wacky in both the RPG and ACG.

Kingkiller is one of several ways we’ve run “chase” scenarios. In the RPG, you often make choices about which way to go, such as “leaping between rooftops” or “balancing on the plank that leads across” that let you use different skills and mix up the difficulty of options. The location Rooftop’s power to choose between two barriers whenever you encounter a barrier is entirely inspired by this mechanic. This scenario can be pretty quick and easy, which might feel nice for anyone who had a tough time with the previous scenario.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for more of a nail-biter, I’d encourage at least one of two modifications to this scenario to increase difficulty: First, remove the scenario’s automatic closing from defeating the Fugitive. This means that you’ll have to defeat a barrier to close each Rooftop location, and if you fail, closing will require either emptying it or shuffling the Fugitive back into it. It really changes up the feel of the chase. Second, when the Fugitive is defeated and is shuffled into another location, I’d instead shuffle the Fugitive and a new barrier into a stack, then shuffle each into a random location (different locations if possible).

That’s more than enough for this blog. I can probably do Adventure 2 more succinctly, right?

Keith Richmond
Adventure Card Game Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Interesting to get some background info on these scenarios!

Speaking of Background info. Keith, do you want to share with everyone the time you made me feel like a villain during Haunted Fortunes? Actually, I will.

I remember just like it were yesterday. Keith was playing Quinn and scouted a Blast Stone noting that it was "no doubt left by Lamm's insane alchemist Yargin Balko." Varian (Me) then acquired the Blast Stone and afterwards encountered Lamm's Lamb. Some background info would've been nice before I quickly deployed the Blast Stone on what I thought was just a skirmish barrier that needed to be squelched with fire. Poor kiddos. I was no better than Yargin Balko or Gaedren Lamm that day.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Thanks! Great blog. Nice to see examples of how to mix and match the difficulty increases with the storyline.
I also liked the backstory explanations


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Still a bit frustrated that it's drawing on mostly edgy pop culture anarchy rather than the actual political and philosophical movement, but aside from that it's pretty cool stuff.

Lone Shark Games

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redeux wrote:
I remember just like it were yesterday. Keith was playing Quinn and scouted a Blast Stone noting that it was "no doubt left by Lamm's insane alchemist Yargin Balko." Varian (Me) then acquired the Blast Stone and afterwards encountered Lamm's Lamb. Some background info would've been nice before I quickly deployed the Blast Stone on what I thought was just a skirmish barrier that needed to be squelched with fire. Poor kiddos. I was no better than Yargin Balko or Gaedren Lamm that day.

I don't know - insufficient strategic intelligence feels like a pretty rough excuse for your regret over using a grenade on an orphan. But whatever lets you sleep at night ;)

For clarity, when playtesting, we often / initially don't include the full story text. So our playtesters are sometimes (un)pleasantly surprised to find out what's actually happening.

Elvenoob wrote:
Still a bit frustrated that it's drawing on mostly edgy pop culture anarchy rather than the actual political and philosophical movement, but aside from that it's pretty cool stuff.

It's actually drawing on the older use of anarchy, representing the state of being without a leader or government, inspired by ancient Greece and entering common usage in the 16th century.

The political and philosophical movement was inspired afterwards, I believe establishing most in the 19th century.

I'm not really sure what "edgy pop culture anarchy" is, though googling it got me a Sons of Anarchy ad, so that's something.

At any rate, it is a historically, factually, and thematically correct usage here, since the monarch is dead and the populace is rioting in the aftermath. Adding a learned philosopher NPC that wants to espouse the theory, non-violently, might actually be a pretty neat thing to add to the RPG campaign.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Keith Richmond wrote:


I don't know - insufficient strategic intelligence feels like a pretty rough excuse for your regret over using a grenade on an orphan. But whatever lets you sleep at night ;)

I missed out on my current playgroup's run through the RPG version of Curse, but they managed to accomplish this. Ranger saw a target on the roof of Lamm's hideout, shot at it, and ended up with a dead Lamb and an arrest warrant.

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