An easy way around that is to have a lower level PC with access to a scroll of a much more powerful spell. Since the check to cast is basically a given to a high enough level caster, you can say that this valuable 9th level scroll is in the possession of, say, a 13th level caster. That way the PCs don't have access to gate, or wish or whatever, but there is a one-time high level casting that they can pay for.
While that is true, Stachys has a population of about 60 people, many of which already have day jobs. Even with Dame Crabbe's lent laborers, I just felt it would be unrealistic (I know, that's a terrible word in RPGs) for however many unemployed day laborers to simultaneously build a windmill, a bridge, a church, a new tavern, and several farms while also resurfacing the roads, re-finishing the buildings, and restoring the pump house in less than a couple of months, especially with medieval building techniques.
That said I did allow the jobs to be done simultaneously for the very reason you posted.
My PCs were more freaked out by the "Terrifying Duchess" and the "Nightmare monster from the night of the Jubilee," they failed to identify the Attic Whisperer, but tried to get information out of it until it life-drained the rogue, at which point they smashed the thing to pieces. It was excellent for atmosphere, though - crying from the next room during the whole Duchess fight.
Name: Thou-Shalt-Worship-Our-God Thicknesse
In the end, and they buried 'Worship' Thicknesse in a clearing near the Thorn River.
GM of Blinding Light wrote:
Would it be safe to assume that Axis would be strongly-lawful dominant? I'm assuming yes but am surprised that this isn't mentioned in the book itself.
According to Planar Adventures, Axis is:Gravity: normal
Alignment: strongly law-aligned
Magic: enhanced (spells and spell-like abilities with the lawful
descriptor) or impeded (spells and spell-like abilities with
the chaotic descriptor)
So I'm trying to work out where exactly Tallgrasses is. The entry says it's "about 15 miles west of Taldor on the Whistling Plains." I'm assuming that's a typo, since the Whistling plains are on the Eastern Side of Taldor (and 15 miles West of Taldor puts it in Andoran), so my question is: 15 miles WEST of the Qadiran Border, or 15 miles EAST of Taldor? Or is it just 15 miles EAST of Yanmass? Since 15 miles west of Yanmass puts it on the other side of Brokenbridge River, in the Northern Tandak Prefecture. So I think the most reasonable conclusion is that it's 15 miles East of Yanmass, or am I totally off base?
Darrell Impey UK wrote:
After establishing a House alliance with Baron Okerra, my PCs got him to lend them horses for a horse race as the headline event of their festival. They invited all the nobles from around the county, and both Okerra and Voinum decided to compete (as retired members of the Taldan Horse).
The rub came when the Lotheed coach rolled up to the party...and Count Lotheed turned down their invitation but "sent Titus in his stead," an obvious insult. So Titus, his toadies, and Gul Gusairne rocked up to the festival and tensions immediately spiked (my PCs hated Gusairne more than anyone). Titus decided to compete in the race, and the PC face rogue beat him (narrowly). Titus refused to admit defeat, and challenged the rogue to a duel. Chaos ensued, and after an absolute clusterf%~% of a combat Titus, Gusairne, and both toadies were dead, the PCs had declared open rebellion against the Lotheeds, and they hit 51 loyalty points so they roused the town and are marching on the Palace of Birdsong with a peasant army.
So...Titus crashing the party is one of the best things to happen to my campaign.
This is amusingly similar to what I've done - except the PCs have been the ones to organize their "Stachys Summer Festival." They've gotten heavily invested in event planning and deciding which of their neighbors to invite - and it has all the benefits you describe.
Furthermore, I ran Birthright Betrayed as a "Session Zero" before we began Crownfall, and Earl Vernisant has been established as an enemy of the party all along. He has had them followed, placing a spy in Stachys to watch them. I've written in some attempts by this spy to sabotage events at the festival, in the spirit of the beehive attack in the Senate Gala and the crossbow assassination attempt in the Jubilee.
Name: Nyssa Piper
Fast forward through all the insanity a trip to the First World entails, and the party found themselves fighting the last member of a band of the Wild Hunt, having taken the rest of them by surprise. The leader, a glaive-wielding satyr named Clortho, was completely surrounded when he managed to get off a Fear spell with his horn, and everyone but Nyssa the neutral evil thief panicked and fled.
The rogue was equipped with a pair of cold iron daggers, the only cold iron weapons in the party. She and the satyr fought a narrow battle of five foot steps all over the map for ten straight rounds before the rest of the party was finally able to return from their cowering - just in time to watch Clortho deliver a max damage glaive critical to Nyssa, practically cutting her in half and killing her instantly. While the rest of the party was able to dispatch the satyr shortly thereafter (with the unexpected help of a Glitterdust spell that came alive as a flying squid), there was nothing they could do for Nyssa. So they followed what they believed she would have wanted, stripped her gear and left her to rot in the First World.
Darrell Impey UK wrote:
My game ran much the same way, and since the Night Swan is at the Jubilee her first awareness of the party is of them chumming around with Okerra. As a result, it was nigh impossible for my PCs to get on her good side - but since she is straight up hostile and antagonistic when they first meet her, the desire to try and get on her good side wasn't really there, either. Essentially, the Night Swan becomes more of a "stock villain," as the book describes. That said, it allowed my PCs to channel their hatred of Gul Gusairne with one less distraction.
I was just pondering that yesterday, and I think it will go a long way towards reminding the party of how much they hate Gul Gusairne if they meet someone in Meratt (maybe the innkeeper at the Count's Cravat) who is missing a pinky and gets squirrely whenever Gusairne shows up, only to find that pinky later. If my players had object reading powers I'd make it more personal. The monk already used some psychic power to "see" Gusairne's defining traumas and descent into jaded LE, and the party is now scared s*##less of him.
I've had the same experience. I've never had a party commit so thoroughly to their characters, and I've been playing with this group for 10+ years. Book 2 particularly has topped my previous favorite, the 2nd book of Council of Thieves and the infamous murderplay. Every NPC is so complex and interesting. It takes a hell of a lot of work and note-taking to GM this AP as well as it deserves, but it is well worth it.
Your PCs took Amaya with them, really? She's probably the last one I'd pick, looks so delicate and vulnerable...
She started out as a distraction in Arael's jail break, but she got a level of bard and her inspiration has been invaluable. Also she served as a great acting coach during book 2, and as per Raynulf's suggestion she has started writing plays based on the Children of Westcrown's exploits to drum up a little more fame. She's kind of become the party mascot.
Totally let Janiven help if you're concerned about party mortality. Hell, my PCs have taken various members of the Children of Westcrown on pretty much every mission they've done (as a result, Amaya is only a level behind the PCs).
As to the Derro, it looks great! Really sets apart how gross and dangerous the sewers of Westcrown can be. Maybe play up the presence of the Derro's cytillesh fungus growing on the walls, and you could reskin the goblin dogs to resemble a Cassomir Stray.
I've added a lot of taverns across the city, usually notable because the party spends time there casing nearby locations. A few that have come up, most of which can be dropped wherever it's convenient for you:
The Bruised Eel, Yakapulio's tavern
The Broken Shield, across the street from the Limehouse theater (where actors and stagehands take their lunch breaks)
The Hellion Pub, which is basically a football club for Devildrome supporters
The Rye & Fire, frequented by the Dottari
The Wicked Wight, an alchemist bar
There was a lengthy discussion about this in the Crownfall sticky post. Basically it seems it boils down to a simplified presentation of a more complex historical subject, just to streamline gameplay. So in Golarion, primogeniture and agnatic inheritance are essentially the same thing.
Also, Stavian's crown is called the Primogen Crown, which sounds cool. End of the day, it's a game, have fun.
I like upping the ante on Sotto, but there are already a lot of outsiders kicking around this AP, and I wanted some variety. So I replaced Halmash with Ruxandra Katranjiev, the example werewolf from Classic Horrors revisited, and the wolves with werewolves that she has turned from the Sotto locals. The whole "intelligent wolf seeks revenge on a town that glorifies wolf hunting" bit works pretty well, plus the wolves can disappear back into the population to make the challenge of finding them harder if they employ hit and run tactics.
Has anyone done a cheat-sheet or Excel doc or some other dossier of all of the NPCs and their inter-relations in this AP? I ask because that would be very helpful, and I'll do it myself if need be from the six books, but if someone has a document, it would save a ton of time.
I have been compiling a doc, but it's pretty loosely organized and dependent on my personal campaign. I can tell you that at the point we've reached (Book 2, Part 2) There are already 50 named NPCs that I have to keep track of, as the PCs may call upon them. This includes everyone from Senator Duo from the Gala in Book 1, to Purple Finch (who my PCs are sponsoring at the Moost Conservatory). Honestly if I'd had the foresight to start it as a spreadsheet I would have, but now I've come too far. I recommend that approach over my own.
Well the Amulet is worth 8,000, and the treasure generator from Ultimate Equipment lists a "marble idol" between 300 and 500 gp. I'd round up for craftsmanship, assume 8,500. So after three failed tries to get the amulet off, you basically have a smashed lump of worthless marble.
My party got off to a disastrously bad start, botching all their checks right up until the assassination attempt, at which point they were able to regain their lost ground and get everyone to helpful (except Titus and Yander). I even ran the extra npcs (Titus, Yander, Lucretzia, & Gusairne) in the social rounds, and with a combination of good roles and excellent social skills they dominated the event. I think its fair to say that unless your party is really not geared towards socializing. this shouldn't be a Herculean task.
That said, the manticore fight would have been a TPK if the party hadn't brought Malphene Trant with them (she's engaged to one of the PCs).
Ed Girallon Poe wrote:
How is Dame Crabbe winning the Trucco matches on the fourth round? She's a level 4 aristocrat who (I assume) took weapon focus hammers for the Trucco bonus. To consistently win on turn 4 she would have to hit a DC 20 dexterity check with her Dexterity(unspecified)+3 bonus for 3 out of the 4 rounds. That's statistically unlikely unless she has a dexterity of 30-something.
The matches (Trucco, Joust, Hunt) all have default winners written in to play up the NPC's natures and cement them as characters. This requires a little hand waving, sure, but nothing is stopping your PCs from taking gold in these events - except the hunt, where apparently capturing two commoners is more impressive than slaying the Iron Lash of Meratt.
Name: Rin Oerbridge
Anything to make noble families distinct is great, and Vort the Elder being a sinister opera aficionado with ties to crime in the Blackwood is just begging for some spin-off side quest.
I like to play up travel time, not just teleport my PCs from location to location between books. My group also enjoys getting to stretch their RP legs a bit, and Taldor is just so vividly rendered in First Empire, that I will absolutely be continuing this habit with WftC. They will have also gotten used to the idea, after three months or so in Meratt County, of being able to just call on the manor of a noble and be put up for the night while traveling.
To that end, here is what I have in mind. After the PCs deal with New Towne, Caphridius Vort gives them the Vort family amulet. After completing this adventure, they will travel by horseback to Cassomir, taking them right through...Vort County. They'll think "perfect! Someone related to someone we've helped!" and try to stay the night.
So Count Erasmus Vort is decidedly less fond of the "peasant rabble" than his nephew, Caphridius. If he sees the PCs carrying the amult they got from Caphridius, he will want to know where they got it, and probably be suspicious. He may not like his nephew, but blood is blood. Maybe he starts off unfriendly. If the PCs convince him to let them stay, he insists they join him for his "dinner theater," in which local peasants are forced to act out murderplays with actual weapons to the Count's raucous laughter (cribbing a bit from Council of Thieves). Count Vort himself will not attempt anything untoward with the PCs, but they have to pass this way again after book 3, when they return by the same route from Yanmass to Meratt. And by now Vort will have heard that they are supporters of Eutropia.
Vort has a huge following - mostly criminals and bandits. He can essentially hunt the PCs through his lands "The Most Dangerous Game" style. This fits thematically with the 'harmless' amusements the nobility uses at the Taniger Jubilee (jesters and prey conscripted from the local peasantry), but cranks it up to 11. Count Vort, after all, thinks he has a shot at the Throne. Why would he let agents of one of his "competitors" live?
I'd read right over that guy. So how does the baronet of a starving community that barely qualifies as a hamlet rank so highly on the national stage? As far as I can tell there's nothing in the book to explain how the Tribune of New Towne has people backing him for the throne all the way from Cassomir to Lotheedar, and straight into the 5th book (if these maps are to be believed).
I'm tempted to give Caphridius Vort a more powerful uncle that commands some actual power and prestige, and who is a lot more menacing and involved with the criminal activity in the Blackwood, while his baronet nephew bumbles along in New Towne trying to "help the people."
Seems like he is just another faceless local Senator. Nazezi and Starborne have similarly small but loyal followings. Since the agents have to travel through his territory (looks like Blackwood Swamp) on the way from Meratt to Yanmass, if you want to flesh him out it shouldn't be too hard - say, the PCs stop at Vort manor after a day of travel, that sort of thing.
So let's talk about the Dignified Repository. I love it, but there is a significant factor that I haven't seen brought up - and my party ran straight into. Namely, the contents are described as wooden crates full of clothing and furniture (notoriously flammable) and Fair-minded Efarni is throwing splash damage firebombs around.
Yes, they act as stinking cloud, but they still deal fire to large areas of loosely packed flammable materials. Add to that my PCs have a wizard casting burning hands recklessly, and the Repository is basically destined to burn down.
So - this can put a timer on the rescue operation (if they leave to rest the structure collapses), or just be cinematic (burning down an adventuring site through carelessness seems fitting in a game this grounded in consequence).
Name: Urag Bonerattle
While that is the greater part of the story, there is plenty of opportunity to have "guest appearances" by other contenders during the segments between books. The PCs have to travel the length of the country several times (Oppara to Meratt to Yanmass to Zimar, etc), and much of this is before they have access to teleportation. They're going to be stopping to spend the night in one of the rival factions' territories at least once (unless your party doesn't like dealing with overland travel). Easiest thing in the world to throw in a "Game of Thrones" moment where supporters of opposed factions run into each other in a roadside tavern while the party is staying there and a fight breaks out, or some such.
Frederico Gomes wrote:
I ran it as each one individually being struck. I also ran it as an actual, encounter, with initiative, and the party was actually able to take down the first mercenary that came their way before the wizard got struck with a javelin and vanished. I simply marked the wizard off the initiative order and kept going. The PCs freaked out at this, and assumed the mercs were "carrying disintegration javelins" to prevent victims from being rezzed.
It's no secret that the shadow room in the Asmodean Knot is hilariously overpowered for the level, and in my opinion the link to the Plane of Shadow also seems a bit shoehorned into an otherwise infernal-themed dungeon. I decreased the spawn rate of shadows, but I also wanted to bring the room into alignment with the rest of the dungeon (and add more of a Mammon flair).
What I ended up doing was replacing the mirrors with the "Claws of Erebus" haunt from Hell Unleashed. A pitch dark room that eats anyone who enters (reflex save to avoid). The zone still spawned shadows at a dimished rate, reskinned as the souls of those who expired in the cells.
My party couldn't defeat the haunt (bad rolls) but consecrated the area to prevent shadow spawning.
While running the second book of the campaign, I was introduced to a comic called the Black Monday Murders, about a cabal of bankers who worship Mammon and control Wall Street. This got me to thinking that Mammon is poorly represented in the campaign, barely appearing until you actually encounter Sidonai's contract.
And so I want to reimagine the Council of Thieves as a cult of Mammon. It makes more sense than Sidonai Drovenge deciding out of nowhere to make a deal for a tiefling son, given Cheliax's opinions on tieflings. This way opens a door on various soothsayers having dreams about "the golden child" coming to rule Westcrown, as well as providing more Mammon story earlier in the campaign.
Mammon is such an underappreciated demigod, and the Council Members using his worship early on (as early as the Asmodean Knot sessions) makes the idea of evil rich people so much more flavorful than just generic Asmodeus worship and gives the campaign a good lead up to the otherwise sudden appearance of a Son of Mammon.
To that end, my current plan is to rewrite the Asmodean Knot to be more focused on Mammon - changing the previous mayors to be Mammonite council members to introduce the Argent Prince as earky as possible.
I'll expand on this as my campaign.moves forward. Just curious to hear other GM's thoughts.
I love, love, love Taldaris (and by extension the Impariut). I will be using him as an opponent in some campaign even if my WftC campaign doesn't get that far.
My only complaint is that his attack is slightly off. His attack is listed as a +1 mithral halberd, but his gear has listed a +3 axiomatic mithral halberd. His attack rolls as presented use the former, but by his gear he should have an additional +2 attack and damage on all rolls.
I had the same question. Unless otherwise specified, I'm starting mine in mid-march. Assuming "realistic" long distance boat travel logic, and the prior absence of trade ships between Almas and Ancorato, it makes sense that Ochymua caused the colony's disappearance in fall, and this is the first ship to make the voyage after the bad winter weather, so if they depart in early February, mid March seems reasonable. Plus it allows for plenty of nice weather in books 1 & 2.
The party should have a fair amount of gold, between the rewards for rescued senators and magic items acquired in the Senate Sublevels (and any profession checks made during downtime, though this is limited).
They may well be "penniless" by noble standards at the beginning of the book, but isn't that the point? Eutropia is sending them to retake her palace because she needs assets to fight Pythareus - the PCs will make their money on the various (and there are so many) missions that take place over the course of the book. At the same time, they are building their personas, recruiting agents that can be trusted to travel to the nearest city (Cassomir, I believe) and sell things for them.
And if they still need more money, as a GM I might introduce a mob boss in Cassomir willing to loan them coin - opening up a whole slew of interesting side story.
While that is technically true, the spell description makes a few interesting distinctions. First, it says "You contact your deity–or agents thereof," implying that there's no way to be 100% ceetain you're talking to Abadar himself, or a herald, or an overworked kolyarut in an Axis call center.
Secondly, this line opens up a whole dimension of ambiguity: "The spell, at best, provides information to aid character decisions. The entities contacted structure their answers to further their own purposes." So even if you do get Abadar himself, gods are powerful and inscrutable. It might be the will of Abadar to prop up both sides and see which one "wins" culturally on various worlds throughout the multiverse - sort of like breeding different strains of flowers in a garden.
And third, I'm willing to bet lawful scholars in Golarion aren't that different from our world, where even a direct passage in a holy text can be interpreted in almost any way depending on the readers philosophical views. As far as this Abadarn split goes, its easy enough to emphasize one element of doctrine over another - if there weren't room for personal interpretation, there wouldn't be such a wide alignment web for each deity. LG, LN, and LE can all receive spells from Abadar.
Just my views on the matter. I've had several "religious debates" at the table over the years, as I'm sure most GMs have, and this is just the framework I've settled on for making sense of the data in my games.
Are we sure that's the same Thaena? I remember that lunar naga suffering from dementia and living in a bell tower near Wispil - before being killed by adventurers.
I just find it more likely that a noble house has the same name by coincidence than a senile snake woman managed to take control of a Taldan province.
I do like the idea of Wispil declaring independence as a gnome sovereign nation, though. That's actually what happened when I ran Dragon's Demand.
So the Vault and Chain are fascinating - Abadaran hardliners that adhere to a Randian prosperity doctrine. They also provide a stark contrast to the Tare mentioned in Crownfall - Abadaran reformers who believe Taldan law to be contrary to Abadar's laws. It's a great opportunity to explore what people really connect to in the Abadaran faith.
I'm only really having to contemplate this because one of my PCs is a LE cleric of Abadar, and is more likely to side with the V&C than the Tare.
I plan on introducing the V&C early on - maybe proselytizing in the Gray Market during the week of the Exaltation Gala. But the schism of the faith will be important enough to Abadaran PCs that I think springing it in book 4 is a bit late.
My current plan is to have my Abadaran cleric run into Veneranda Cain (paladin mentioned in the Oppara Gazetteer) arguing with Palo Iovinus about Abadaran doctrine in the Cathedral of Coins.
Not every NPC is supposed to use fully optimized, 100% effective and logical combat tactics.
I've been trying to explain this concept to my PCs for years. "Why does this 2nd level expert have Skill Focus: Glassblowing, instead of something useful like power attack?" Well, she's a glassblower who has never picked up a sword, so...
In the back of book 4, there's a breakdown of what we'll find in the next volume's back matter, and one of those reads:
NOBLE LINES OF TALDOR By Crystal Malarsky
I hope that we'll find out about all these other contending families there - I have the same questions.
That said, I like the idea of a funeral for Stavian III and the various senators - I'll probably work that into the week of downtime between the end of book 1 and the beginning of book 2. It might end in some kind of chaos as noble houses throw blame around, and really spark off a powder keg of resentment that drives more of these houses to declare for, say, Merkander or Phaeben (whoever they are) rather than the heirs of the mad prince who just killed their loved ones.