In the first installment of our behind-the-scenes look at the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game’s Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path, we covered Adventure 1: Edge of Anarchy. By the end of that chapter, you learned that Korvosa is a strange city full of criminals (both big- and small-time) and devils (mostly small… for now), and that many of those are respected citizens. Now it’s time for things to get grim: a plague descends on the city. Let’s walk through Adventure 2: Seven Days to the Grave. Bring out your dead!
Throughout this adventure, I encourage you to use the Harrows wildcard Harrow of Shields for additional flavor and challenge. If you’re on the fence about this extra challenge, consider using the Base suggestion from the previous Adventure Time blog, or only apply Harrow of Shields when you have at least 3 cards in your discards (ensuring that heal effects will always provide some value).
Let’s talk a little bit about the scourge Plagued. Nobody wants to be plagued. And as soon as someone is, nobody wants to hang out with them. Or suddenly everyone is plagued. It won’t kill your character quickly, but you’ll want to remove the scourge as soon as possible. The best ways to do so are to play your harrow, which lets you remove a scourge this adventure, or to go to the Base. Otherwise, you might want to stock up on boons like Antiplague, Balmberry, Remove Disease, Plague Mask, or Soothing Word.
Every scenario in Seven Days to the Grave has its splash of plague to toss around. As long as you’re careful around wererats and plague zombies, though, you’ll mostly be okay. (The final scenario has a bit more than a splash, though. More like a deluge, or a particularly unhealthy bath. More about that later, though.)
Before playing scenario 2A: Rats and the Sinking Ship, please observe its FAQ.
When disease suddenly breaks out in Korvosa, there’s a rush to find out how. And there’s an even more intense rush to blame just about anyone and take advantage of the chaos for personal benefit. (Sometimes Korvosa is a little too realistic.) In scenario 2A, the finger-pointing has settled on a gang of wererats. After spending some time exploring the back alleys and sewers of Old Town, you determine they have nothing to do with it, but their dictator Girrigz does have plans to take advantage of the chaos. Once you deal with him, the wererats are happy to be helpful members of society and point you toward a sunken ship that might’ve brought the disease to town. It’s guarded by a sea hag druid and her (lone) shark, but not for long!
To increase the difficulty of this scenario, I’d suggest the Perils wildcards Desperate and Impoverished to evoke the sudden exhaustion of supplies and closing up of the town. The Onslaughts wildcard Wearisome is also solid, given how much swimming and sewer spelunking the characters need to do.
In scenario 2B: The Life of the Party, you continue your search for clues started in the previous scenario, stumbling into the “undead everywhere” part of the adventure. In addition to some opportunistic vampire spawn, the highlight of the scenario is a nod to “The Masque of the Red Death.” Worried about plague, some nobles have cheerfully shut themselves up in a manor house with a bunch of supplies, intending to have a long party while waiting out the trouble. That lasts right up until Jolistina Susperio, apprentice to the town’s favorite necromancer-slash-serial-killer Rolth Lamm (you raided his lair for body parts back in scenario 1C: The Dead Warrens), crashes the party... and turns everyone into zombies. Then she restarts the party, complete with costumed zombie dancing! Sanity is not one of Jolistina’s strengths.
The Onslaughts wildcard Monstrous works well with the scenario’s closing rules as well as the selection of level 2 monsters in Curse. For Legendary mode, I’d suggest the Perils wildcard Deadly to amplify those Plague Zombies, or the Perils wildcard Unhallowed to suit the rampant necromancy. [Editor note: “Suit.” I see what you did there.]
In the RPG, right up until this point, it can be pretty unclear if the Queen is doing anything wrong. In fact, in one of my groups, one player loved the Queen so much she wanted to become a Gray Maiden. Thankfully, the party found out that’d be a bad idea before she got too far. The cover of the hardcover edition does make it a little more likely for the players to suspect her from the start, though.
Still, in scenario 2C: The Queen’s Hospitality, you have plenty of reason to want to sneak and talk your way past as many of the Gray Maidens and Queen’s Physicians as you can. (Along those lines, my wife’s character had a long-lost sister she’d been trying to track down that I’d made into a Gray Maiden, figuring it would lead to a great reveal. I underestimated the ability of players to foil any plan, though: Through a combination of well-planned and lucky acrobatics, stealth, and timing, she managed to miss interacting with her sister by literal inches. Oops.)
If you have the right skills, this scenario isn’t all that difficult, so when adding wildcards, you may want to consider how much Diplomacy, Perception, and/or Stealth the group has. If you have those skills, I’d encourage the Perils wildcard Hostile to provide a little more danger and suspense. The Perils wildcard Confusing and Onslaughts wildcard Hazardous also feel appropriate for wading through the deception and betrayal. If your group is rarely pressed for time, I’d add an additional location (adding Storehouse to the list for 6 characters).
Lady Andaisin, the head cultist of Urgathoa, would like you to have a civil discussion with her scythe.
After you make it past all of the false trails laid by the Queen’s minions, in scenario 2D: The Cult of Urgathoa, you discover a fully-fledged temple to the goddess of the undead under the city. There you also discover a vampire scholar who helped craft the blood veil plague and is studying why some portion of the populace seems to be immune to it. And those previously mentioned vats where cultists are currently brewing a thousand gallons of “viscous, phlegm-like fluid of concentrated blood veil.” After you deal with the villain in charge of the temple (twice!), you’ll save the city from the plague!
If your group is good at cornering villains, adding the location Blood Pool is a solid option. The Perils wildcards Hostile and Unhallowed and the Onslaughts wildcard Withering are all good fits thematically and mechanically. Because of the risk of plague and this scenario’s villain powers, managing your discards and buried cards adds suspense and a fear of death that will make winning this chapter feel like a well-earned triumph.
That’s Seven Days to the Grave. I promise you won’t need to make nearly as many Constitution Fortitude checks ever again. Probably. [Editor note: No promises!]
Adventure Card Game Designer