Bragou's page

9 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just my two cents, I would just like to share my prep a bit (A)

I have been sitting and waiting for the battle for a while now, still 3 weeks before the gamenight, have been building a 3D tidewater rock in the meanwhile. Nothing all too fancy, but maybe inspiring to some (:

TWR (work in progress):

3D TWR - Work in progress
The floorplan will be reprinted to better fit the size of the tower, and I might dress up the walls a bit more :)

Furthermore, I have been thinking to expand the following Manchester storyline a bit. I would like the party to really have to search a bit more to unfold the mysteries of the treasure map, rather than have a single roll, some added info and sail right to the location. Maybe ask around a bit about some of the hints.

This might also be a good way to implement some additional social interaction to be really motivate them to become free captains. I planted this seed a few times now, but I think this species might need more water and fertiliser. I will explain them that friendly harbors will not charge costs to free captains and that traveling through the Shackles will be the end for most merchant ships sooner or later.

Also, my players previously skipped Bonewrack Isle, and I plan to refit it to make it more suitable for lvl6 characters (ghasts instead of ghouls, Brute chokers, dire frogs etc). In the stockade, I added a suicide letter, with a few seeds for plot hooks and forecasting. I will leave out the grindylow crawl, although there is still a flock reciding there. They will have left there art on the isle, but I am not planning to have them chase/interact with the party.
The fist will become the finger, a bit thinner and taller, and famous for its shiny fingernail, which is naturally formed from a smooth pyrite material, reflecting the sunlight for most part of the day. This is where they will have to stand at dawn.

suicide letter:

Dear reader,

I am sorry for you to read this message, as it means you ended up on this vile isle too. Stranded on this godforsaken Isle, I might have gotten what I deserved. We should never have brought ghouls to the fight.

I told Harry, this fever will only spread death upon all of us. We must find a better way to win our war. I held them off as long as I could, but one of those damn musquitos got me. But I will not give in to help them out. I will choose my own fate.

To my beloved Zarta and my boy Trato, wherever he may be, I have always loved you and hope you two will ever meet again. I am sorry I haven't been able to unite our family.

Captain Aaron Ivy Dralneen

I slightly adjusted the tattoo text too:
tattoo text:
Briefly from the fingertip, do not miss
The mirrored glow of the Dawnflower’s very first kiss

Spot the Grave Ladys prizetooth, beloved by your grace.
Far far away, in the blue bight’s embrace

The Caps wayward orb, simply climb aboard,
Dig and claim the riches of the old king’s hoard

Oh, yeah, one other thing I wanted to get off my chest, my pirate party is still not very experienced on the sea battles, they have only successfully raided one, let one get away, fled twice from other pirate ships (Svard and a sidestory). They find it difficult to judge how survivable different encounters are. When we had a sidequest encounter on the land of Ushinawa Isles, they found it very comforting that they knew they could get away if they got cold feet.

Maybe I have not been feeding them enough info as it goes, or frightened them too much in the beginning, as I did explain them upfront it could be a quite rough and posibly deadly campaign. Anyway, the two major anchor points are still very positive, everyone is still very much engaged, and they are still making progress, if they don't accidantially TPK in the upcoming battle :P

If anyone has anything cool to add, or a good reason why not to do some or any of this, feedback is very welcome. This is my first longrunning campaign, so I am open for any cool suggestions :)

Cool idea about Genzei, I had some other side quests written in that area, shouldn't be too much trouble to intertwine some political intrige.

Regarding the fight, I figured as much that they should get some cover.
If they don't figure this out really quickly, I think I might steer it a bit, e.g. Lady Smythee suggesting that the Rock is a good defensive position. But on the other hand, they also felt it could be a TPK, so probably they will try to think hard about options to get out of harms way/ direct line of fire.

Alternatively, the helpful NPCs could be a bit stronger than written, the party is hoping to have gathered a useful, powerful ally. Not really leaning towards this option though, as I think the PCs should of course remain the heroes, a bit lame/an easy out to make it more of an NPC-cinematic story/encounter

I'll think about it, I still have till mid-June to figure it out. :P

Just a small update after two more episodes. The party went to Genzei and was introduced the side quest to save the local farmer's daughter, who would tell their story for them (because they have difficulties gathering infamy). After returning from this encounter they were still a bit in the dark what they were supposed to do.

I had a few storylines ready for them, a random encounter based on one of the backstories, the plunder and perill treasure hunt story, and thirdly, I let Lady Smythee use Sending, telling tell the party she expected a Sahuagin attack (they were sneaking all over the Isle).

The party rushed in full speed back to Tidewater Rock, just in time to save Birney.
Other choices that would have significantly different outcomes for the storyline as TWR would possobly be overrun, if they had chosen differently. Now the first encounter had a few Sahuagin slipping away, and they could have informed Isabella about the presence of the party at TWR, who was already hunting for them, in this part of the Shackles :)

As Lady Smythee knew these attacks usually come in waves, she asked for their support for the next few days in exchange for a Shackles marriage. They agreed, stood guard for the day, and the next day Sahuagin came for the entrance of the tower, destroyed the entrance, and then tried to flee. The party noticed the creatures didn't want to enter and realized something more might be coming. They quickly rebuilt the door
Now, the night has fallen, the episode ended after they rolled initiative for the encounter with Isabella, after she broke down the door and flew to the top of the tower. The party, not really well-suited for magic-using opponents fears a TPK, so this was a nice high tension break before the next episode :P

I am quite curious how tough this fight will be, as they used up quite much of their firepower in the encounter earlier that night (which I had made a little tougher). I will make sure Lady Smythee and her bodyguard will assist, and will hope for the best.

Regarding infamy points, one from cracking TWR, and they received a few points with kind regards from the Ushinawa Isles. These infamy points will soon stop coming from Ushinawa, as the local farmer will be banned from Genzei, or hanged, as it comes out he asked these random external people to help him out, which is seen as weak and shameful and will not be tolerated by the local authorities. But at least they are better on schedule to at least reach the a despicable status on time for their travel towards Port Peril.

My group is a nice bunch of characters, although a bit low on the healing, magical and social skills.
So far they managed quite well, and I am quite curious how they will keep up in the continuation of the campaign. Currently they are raiding the Fever Sea:

Current PC crew of the Naga's regret
- Cackle - human witch with a chicken familiar, and with a knack for magic and trickery. Always a good laugh if sharing the sense of humor. Maybe not to anyones surprise, but has cackling as favorite weaponfact, and loves the sentence "Hey, what did cackle and doodle do??". Is currently the captain of the ship.

- Doremi (Fasol La Tido)- seasinging/dragon yapping/ musketeeering catfolk, the most charismatic of the group, loves to be the centre of attention. Responsible for crew gathering and spreading of the reputation of the PCs. Function: Shantyman (of course). With regard to the name... yes, I know..

- MEAT - a grumpy human sea reaver, finding hardly any joy in anything other than violence. Hardly speaks any words (consequence of his backstory), slowly (re)developing this quality (started off with only "MEAT", now knows "yes", "no", "food" and the names of the crew). He throws a hell of a punch. He is the Master Gunner/Carpenter on the ship

- Petra Pan - a dwarven two-weapon warrior, looking for adventures on the water. Is the other tank in the party, her strong suit being fighting in tunnels. Also, well skilled in sailing the ship, which also led to her being the pilot of the ship.

Beaten to death at Bloody Hour at the Wormwood
- Burne of Eleder - hedonistic elf water-wizard with kleptomania who couldn't keep to the discipline. Slacking the job, trying to steal from and directing spells on Scourge was too much, Scourge just wouldn't stop lashing during Bloody hour.

Cuup wrote:
It can be frustrating not having a clear goal in Book 2.
Yeah, I think that is where my doubt came from
Cuup wrote:
Something to help keep your players reassured that they haven't missed something is to just be transparent with them. Tell them that in addition to reaching 20 Infamy, their big goals for the book are to own Tidewater Rock and claim the treasure of Mancatcher Cove.

I indeed already namedropped it with the rumours of Wolfe, that a big horde was still around somewhere, but that no maps remain. So that runs smoothly so far

Cuup wrote:

At which point, they'll probably ask "What's Mancatcher Cove?", because the book doesn't even entertain the possibility of the players knowing about it before they meet and kill Isabella. Well, I personally felt it was a mistake in pacing to withhold the info until Isabella attacks, because in the meantime, the players could easily lose interest in the whole thing because their characters have no heading.

There are only so many unique encounters in the book, and only so many times the players will be willing to run through another generic "raid the ship/village" encounter before the whole thing gets stale.

So far they only successfully raided one ship, and one got away, where they saw a caged animal on deck. They might run into that ship again, I think they would be ok looting a few more, but it indeed needs some flavor, as the one I describe here.
Cuup wrote:
If your players are having trouble earning Infamy, that can exacerbate the problem, because the story can't progress until they get at least 10 Infamy, which allows them to (diplomatically) take Tidewater Rock, which allows Isabella's part in the story to begin to progress, and Part 1 of Book 3 can't really start until they earn 20 Infamy, though I can't remember if this is ever explicitly stated in Book 2.
Yeah, I read ahead and realized that, but I do think I should let them gain infamy a bit quicker to keep the story appealing
Cuup wrote:
You're doing a good job of working around this problem, giving them a quest that will earn them Infamy over time with the Ushinowa Pirate's daughter, and with your plan to alter the circumstances to allow them to diplomatically take Tidewater Rock while having less than 10 Infamy. Another option would be - if they're not already doing it - to let the other PC's who AREN'T making the Infamy check to roll to assist the PC who IS. You could also let them recruit an NPC who has a more silver tongue, and have this NPC roll for Infamy.

I don't think they did that so far, or maybe I even accidentally disallowed aid another on this roll, but that would indeed also be a solution.

Thanks for the ideas and confirmation that it is mainly the adventure path rather than me that the progress is on the slow side, helps the confidence. :D

I think it should be fine, and maybe, if they receive the Ushinawa infamy plus meeting Pike, that they can actually reach the 10 points before returning, but I think it is not cool to stop the story progress because of this threshold.
And if they can see that helping others on isles could also get them infamy, I might repeat the trick for them to reach the 20. Or, alternatively, I might let go of this requirement before they can apply for the letter, I will have to see how the story proceeds. Luckily I have time enough for that decision ;) .

I am a rather new GM running this adventure (this is my first long run). I am just a bit curious to get a little bit of grip on how thing evolve in your games, as I have the feeling the core path advancement is just a little slow. The players are making some progress every session we play, but at the same time, there is so much to explore that there might be the risk for them to drown in sidequests. They have a rather low skillset for collecting infamy points (and I think the required DC is also a bit high with DC25 for APL5). They are now at only 4 infamy points and I have the feeling it would take forever to get them to a despicable status.

They are now heading towards Ushinawa Isles, where they might run into a local who lost his daughter and who will spread their story for them if they can return his little girl safely. This way they might get some additional infamy, not sure how much, but maybe up to 5 points over time just to help them out a little bit. As they are still below 10, they also don't have much greed for the points, as they also have no clue what rewards await for reaching the new level. They visited Tidewater Rock once, and charmed the Lady rather well. I think that if they return that the Sahuagin attack might just have taken place, and that they can get a definite alliance if they help to guard the Rock for a few days (despite the lack of reputation).

In the meanwhile, they don't have a very strong sense what is expected from them. I did explain them that I did think they were making decent progress and that the story has its ups and downs in terms of railroad/sandbox (now very much being at the sandbox end). And I also think it makes sense that don't really know what to expect as they are just a new set of characters first entering this harsh archipelago environment. I think I can handle that by warning them (again) that the Shackles is very dangerous for non-free captains without reputation, once they reach Ushinawa Isles. I might send out some ships to track/hunt them down the further they sail into the archipelago, as long as they don't have the letter of marque. Maybe to indicate these battles should come off as unwinnable, I think they will hunt the partyship with a small fleet.

I don't know whether anyone has some tips, but otherwise it is already nice to have a place to vent my doubts and thoughts. I think one of the hardest things is the distribution of information. I gave them several leads, but only some of these reflect sidequests and some of them are essential to the storyline.

For now, I asked them regularly after a session whether they liked the adventure, they say they do, but they also indicate they don't really know what to do. I also enjoy the sessions, especially as every session is rather different and I think I can keep up this variation for the foreseeable future. So in that regard, so far, so good. But they are in for 9 sessions (of full afternoons) and I think it might take quite a few more before they actually reach Port Peril (where, in my opinion, the long-run story really accelerates). It feels a bit weird for the party to be so long invested in a game without having a clear long-term goal ahead, other than wishing their former captain dead.

Dotted, thanks for sharing!

I am running a my first bigger campaign (Skull&Shackles) as a GM, and despite many of these NPCs are a bit high level for now, I would really love to use some throughout my adventure path

Thanks for the feedback.

About their motivation, I was also already slightly doubting how my party would act upon a kidnapping of a few NPCs. They are not always as empathetic. We'll see whether part of this adventure will make sense later in the story.

The storyline of 'we are stuck here and need water' would possibly do the trick to explore the island. Anyway, first stop at Rickety it is. I suppose they will figure a way to pay for their squib. :)

I don't know whether it is any use to post in this dead thread, but would if so, I could use some advice.

My PCs are already lvl4 after the mutiny, but still haven't passed by Bonewreck Isle. This is what would be on the menu for this weekend, but my plan is to skip it for the moment.

I kind of stretched the beginning part of the adventure, and think the PCs have deserved to do some actual piracy themselves now. So I plan to guide them towards Rickety and continue the story there. After they leave with their renewed ship and are sandboxing, I can still let the storm hit and implement the story then (even while they would still be 4th level).

So my doubts:
- Would they be missing anything important for the storyline if I skip it (for the moment or maybe completely)?
- Do you see the adventure also as being so deadly for 4th level characters? This is also how they would reach the Isle now. Should I adjust anything to the lvl of the battles? Up or down? Reading different adventurers, mostly PCs do make it out alive, while they mostly are lvl 2 or 3? I do work with some fairly decent powered party.

Sorry if some of these seem rather obvious, this is my first big campaign to be running as GM.