How many players you had? Aren't those a bit too difficult for the end of Book 1? I'd love to know how your group managed to survive.
Never played it PbP but this campaign seems to be a forum paradise or nightmare, depending on how you run it.
S&S is very roleplay focused, at least the first book is. Some groups may complain about the slow pace and the lack of many fights / dungeon crawling. However, I found very diffcult to simply rush the part aboard the Wormwood. The passing of days is necessary to build tension, introduce the characters propely and, most of all, allow your PCs to make allies that will help them at the climax. I think it's best to find players that would enjoy this style of gameplay than to alter it completely - a slowbuildup is the point, after all, so make sure to explain it clearly to your players before you begin. In PbP perhaps it's best to have fewer players, so each day doesn't last forever, or stipulate a real time limit for the posts, using ship actions as milestones. You have the opportunity to go deeper on character development as they get allies, though, and the splitted party at this point that many players complain about may not be a big problem for you.
The first book is also very skill heavy. If you go slowly with the narrative, I recommend using the staggered advancement rules of Pathfinder Unchained. That allow PCs to distribute some skill points before they level up. Since they're supposed to stay at level 1 during the long discriptive part, using the staggered rules allow those with less skills points (looking at you, casters) to contribute more.
I would totally modify the rum rations. Can be very brutal, but is mostly annoying after a while. I made a softer version of the rum and applied the proper rules only when PCs would drink heavily.
Naval combat is not very good, however you don't use it on the first book. The only part you have shi warfare, is best to just ignore the rules and deliver a good narrative, then skip to the part where PCs participate more. It's worthwhile to alter ship combat for the rest of the AP though. The Razor Coast books (by Frog God Games) have nice alternate rules, if you're willing to use 3rd party. Also check this thread.
I would also do something about underwater combat. It's deadly without magic, ridiculously easy with magic, and can get boring fast. Tone it down when they reach part 3 and use different environment challenges instead.
Not a must-make modification, but I recomment updating some enemy NPCs character sheets using new rules / classes from more recent paizo publications.
Efreeti, that's a good idea. I'm trying to do that. However, how much detail do you put in preprating this scenes? And how further back you start planning? The PCs may mutiny early, but at the same time they're still trying to get allies. Would be annoying to make everything ready and then have some npcs change sides.
Stats for Plugg and Scourge. Here there be possible typos.
Mr. Plugg; CR 4 XP 1200:
Male human swashbuckler 5
NE medium humanoid (human)
Init: +6; Senses: Perception +5
AC 17, touch 15, Flat-footed 12 (+4 Dex, +1 armor, +1 natural, +1 swashbuckler)
hp 52 (5d10+10)
Fort +3, Ref +8, Will +0
Defensive abilities Dodging Panache [1 panache], Opportune Parry and Risposte [1 panache]
Melee Tidewater Cutlass +10 (1d6+5/ 15-20) and mwk cat-o’nine-tails +8 (1d4+2 nonlethal); OR tidewater cutlass +12 (1d6+10/15-20)
Ranged Crossbow +9 (1d8/19-20)
Special Attacks Hidraulic Push [sword] (30f bull rush +3)
During Combat Mr. Plugg always enters combat with his cutlass and cat drawn, and has no compunctions about fighting dirty. He is a vicious and impulsive fighter that spare no chances to show off his prowess, specially against targets he has a personal grudge against. He uses his Menacing Swordplay on every foe and will have 1 panache point saved to benefit from passive habilities unless things get nasty. He regularly uses Combat Expertise (–2 on attack rolls, +2 AC) to increase his AC, and if he finds that he is unable to hit opponents, Plugg drops his cat-o’-nine-tails and attacks with only his tidewater cutlass.
Morale Plugg fights bravely, but if reduced to fewer than 25 hit points, he backs away. If reduced to 12 hit points or fewer, he attempts to flee, hoping to fight another day. He has no loyalty to his captain, crew, or allies, and abandons them without a second thought if it means saving his own skin.
Str 14, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 14
Base Atk +5CMB +7 (11 disarm cat-o’nine-tails) CMD 20 (22 vs. Disarm)
Feats: Two Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (Cutlass), Slashing Grace, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm
Skills Acrobatics +12, Bluff +8, Climb +7, Intimidate +9, Perception +5, Profession (Sailor) +7, Sense Motive +3, Swim +7
Languages Common, polyglot
Combat Gear potion of cure moderate wounds, screaming bolts x50 Other Gear tidewater cutlass (+1 cutlass; see page 59),masterwork cat-o’-nine-tails*,
light crossbow with 10 bolts, amulet of natural armor +1, bracers of armor +1, shackles of compliance (see page 58), leather drinking cup, betting stash of 100 sp and 150 gp
SQ Panache (2 points), Deeds: Derring-Do, Dodging Panache, Opportune Parry and Risposte, Kip-Up, Menacing Swordplay, Swashbuckler Initiative
I have a swashbuckler PC in my group that has a personal grudge against Plugg. Since nobody had the chance to see the first mate fight so far, I anxiously expect hilarious rage from that player when Plugg dodges and rispostes his first attack ^__^
Master Scourge; CR 3 XP 800:
Male human slayer 4
NE medium humanoid (human)
Init: +7; Senses: Perception +1
AC 15, touch 13, Flat-footed 12 (+2 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 49 (4HD; 4d10+9)
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +2
Melee whip +7 (1d3 nonlethal+2) OR; mwk handaxe +8 (1d6^+2/x3); OR punching dagger +7 (1d4+2/x3 plus venom)
Ranged Shortbow +7 (1d6+2/x3)
Special Attacks Sneak Attack +1d6 (+1 bleed); Studied Target
Before Combat Scourge will begin the fight hidden, if possible. He targets the tougher looking enemy first to have the chance of putting him down before the combat begin, studying it to benefit from his slayer bonus and then surprises with a sneak attack.
During Combat Scourge prefers intimidating opponents to fighting them. Once in combat, he attempts to attack from behind, flanking with his allies. He uses his whip to trip foes whenever possible.
Morale If reduced to 10 hit points or fewer, Scourge flees and tries to make good his escape. A man who bears a grudge, Scourge is certain to try to slip dark reaver powder or oil of taggit into the meal or drink of anyone who humiliates or injures him when the chance comes. He gets bolder when fighting along Plugg and will follow the first mate's orders. If Plugg flees, Scourge follows his lead or surrenders, if he thinks that's more likely to work.
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +4 CMB +6 CMD 19
Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (whip), Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +8 Bluff +6, Climb +9, Disable Device +8, Intimidate +8, Profession (sailor) +8, Sense Motive +6, Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +8
Combat Gear potion of blur, potion of cure light wounds, black adder venom (on punching dagger) Other Gear leather armor, punching dagger, masterwork handaxe carved with notches for kills, shortbow with 12 arrows in leather quiver with a buttoned shutter to protect them from the elements, whip, boatswain’s call, corked dark green bottle containing 8 doses of oil of taggit, six gold teeth worth 5 gp each, hefty waxed coat with many hidden pockets, leather snuff box with a diamond stud worth 100 gp containing 1 dose of dark reaver powder, silver wedding ring worth 25 gp, 14 pp, 29 gp
SQ track, slayer talents: bleeding attack +1; power sneak
I'm atually considering giving Scourge another level. My group is big and very found of potentially lethal challenges. Most PCs subestimate Scourge, considering him nothing more than Plugg's lap dog, and having the 2nd studied target available would be a nice surprise.
FedoraFerret wrote wrote:
I rebuilt the Sahuagin Matron into a Shaman (which was lucky, she had her spirit animal to wake her up when the Witch put her to sleep on the first round... rassaafrassin Slumber), and more recently have rebuilt Druvalia Thrune (who I introduced much earlier) into a gunslinging Hexcrafter/Eldritch Archer Magus (along with her entire crew, which I built from the ground up to be counterpoints to the party). Makes for a fun time.
Also would love to see these builds!
Thanks for the feedback, guys! :)
Major problem I have with dividing the fight is explaining why P&S didn't jump in immediately. They're both cowars that like to show off, so it makes sense they would attack all at the same time and be there to enjoy when the PCs go down, but Scarykavu gave an idea. Guess I'll put some of Plugg's cronies at the shore the embush the PCs. I could make that they were trying to impress their new captain by getting rid of the mutiny leaders earlier (those pirates aren't very smart, after all). I already changed some character sheets, giving some of the hostiles PC levels, so a "miniboss" fight wouldn't be bad at all.
That is, of course, if my players don't decide to mutiny earlier. A very likely scenario, considering how much they hate Plugg at this point.
Errant Mercenary, I unfortunately can't play with prints and miniatures since my players live very far from me. It's easy to run sessions using the the internet nowadays, but sadly is still not the same thing. I compensated the lack of physical tools by drawing portraits for all the wormwood crew, so at least my players will have something different, and then use border colors to differenciate baddies and allies.
SPOILERS AHEAD!! Players, go no further!
I'm with a problem that perhaps somebody can help me with.
My party is getting closer to the mutiny scene. I don't know how it will play out yet, they've just joined the crew on the Man's Promise and I have the feeling they might mutiny earlier. Anyway, my biggest problem with the whole thing is: What to do with the NPCs in the last fight?
Before the campaign started, I gave all named NPCs a detailed personality and background. It was really enjoyable for my players to interact with the crew, be it in a friendly way or not. They talked to almost everyone and can remember the crew by name (with exception of a few guys they didn't have time interacting with). It lead to memorable scenes and characters - Rosie is almost an honorary PC now, Conhar is the quirky but nice guy the PCs have to look up after, Fipps is the douchebag target of several jokes and pranks a day, Sly is a creepy stalker that PCs genuinely fear, and so on. Now, as we approach the climax, I don't know how to handle the last encounter.
On one hand, it would be SO much easier to let the overall fight fade into background and focus on the PCs vs Scourge and Plugg. On another hand, I fear this may diminish the importance that social interaction played so far. From the start I emphasized that gathering allies is crucial for a successful mutiny, so it would be nice for them to see the allies they toiled so hard to conquer actually there, fighting and being useful instead of serving as minor background noise, but dealing with an encounter of more than 20 NPCs would be a nightmare.
So far, possible solutions I came with are:
1- Leave the fight as background with the exception of a few of the most memorable NPCs. Diminishes the problem, but doesn't solve it.
2- Put all NPCs on the map and hand my players simplified sheets so they control the 'good guys' and I have only to deal with the enemies. I've done it before in other campaigns, it worked well, but with smaller encounters. As it is, it may shift attention from the real villains and take forever to finish.
I'm also concerned with keeping the encounter challenging. Plugg and Scourge are despised but feared. It would be really anticlimactic to see them go down in a few turns but, knowing my players, if they have NPCs to command, they will surely swarm the villains one at a time, making it impossible to do that movie-like pirate showdown everyone is expecting.
3- Do the final fight in parts. First a showdown against minor NPCs with the help with allies, then move on to the big fight with only the PCs vs the diabolical duo. I don't know how I would build this. It's practical, but always seems silly from a story / strategic viewpoint. Plugg doesn't seem like the kind of guy that would sit in the back with a glass of wine, stroking a white cat and mwahaha-ing while the heroes cut through his lackeys.
4- Find excuses to why most of the NPCs aren't available to participate in the climax. Such as being locked up by Plugg, being unconscious due to lashes, getting cold feet and refusing to participate, etc. This is my least desired choice since it involves major railroading and that's what I'm trying to diminish.
Oh, one detail about by game: We're playing using Roll20 and skype, sessions lasting usually about 3 hours. So, there's that.
How you GMs out there handled this scene?
I thought the same while reading the adventures. With newer rules available, much of the content on S&S seems out of date.
I'm at the Wormwood Mutiny at the moment. As I don't know how far this campaign will last (everybody is having fun but, you know, life tends to get in the way of long games) so haven't made attempts to change anything from later modules, but I've modified almost all antagonists' sheets from the first book. Most noticeable, I turned Scourge into a slayer and Plugg into a swashbuckler. If you're interested, I can post stats here.
Keep those up. I'm always looking for reference of what can be improved. I enjoy this AP quite a lot, but I find it needs some retouches here and there to make te most out of it.
King of Vrock wrote:
Thank you very much!
Hello guys, let's see if someone can help me out. I've decided to try the staggered advancement rules but my players had some questions concerning skill points.
The campaigns I GM have a lot of roleplay but I don't give RP XP to my players. I think roleplaying is a core part of the game, would be like giving XP for sucessfully filling your character sheet. I do however grant story rewards A LOT, including cohorts (regardless of Leadership feat), contacts, shop discounts, rich patrons, titles, guild memberships, romantic interests, fans, etc.
I allow players to take NPCs as part of the group. I roleplay them constantly and they even contribute with ideas (that can be good, meh or horrible, it's up for the PCs to discern). When there's more than one NPC following the party, I distribute simplified sheets and let my players control them during encounters.
I'd rather spend 1 RL hour roleplaying idle chat with an interesting character than 1 RL hour in combat.
I hate managing equipment and magic itens. I disregard average loot progression, many times my PCs have a lot less than they should for their level. I also plan loot based on what makes sense for the story, not for the players, so fighting against an evil cult, most itens will be evil, cursed or otherwise useless for the PCs. Best thing ever was when somebody played with an artificer. Never had to worry about loot again!
I love really slow progression. If I could, I'd keep my players forever around lvl 2-5. I don't like to punish my PCs for nothing or to see them fail, I simply prefer the attitude of people at lower levels. Hard not to plan carefully and mind your actions when you have few HP and may die from very mundane threats.
I hate to calculate XP. I remedied that by rewarding XP based on % to level up. All levels need only 20 XP. Easy things earn them 0.5 points, average challenges grant 1 point, challenging stuff is 2 points. I also don't reward XP for every fight.
I hate druids. Never use them as NPCs and cringe everytime someody wants to play with one.
I hate animal companions / familiars / eidolons / pets in general.
I thought it would be so, but didn't knew if you modified his backstory to better fit the changes.
Since my campaign started I've played Harrigan more as a stoic, severe leader who lived a pretty harsh life and knows no other way of survival but through violence. We have scum like Plugg to be despised, so I made Harrigan a respectable villain, someone capable of decency and honour but made several bad choices until it's too late to turn back. I wish I had seen your posts before, but the clock fits so well that I'm going to include anyway, even if a little late
Thank you for sharing your creativity with everyone! Not only GM stuff but the game journal as well. Reading that gave me some ideas ^^
I'm going to GM Pathfinder this weekend and my players asked me for a Conan-like adventure. You know, with distant/desolate places, barbarians, low tech, evil slavemasters, exploration, etc, but with more magic and D&D elements. I think the final result should possibly resemble an 80's cartoon, maybe Thundarr minus the futuristic bits or something taken out of a heavy metal album cover :P
Seriously though, I know enough about the Conan universe to get the feeling of what the RPG setting should be like but I'm not very familiar with this kind of story. I'm gathering similar material and inspiration before starting plotting. Does anybody know if there's any adventure published by Paizo or a Third party publisher that resembles this setting? I don't want to use the Conan universe, just similar story elements. I also accept ideas for quests, characters, tropes, anything.