We skipped this game and the later Blood Pig as well. As my group doesn't seem to really care for the games. Even the chase went so-so. Not sure if its how I DM, or the group.
What I ran instead was a series of "active" negotiations that started after the discussion grew heated. As the group decided to extremely low ball him and would not budge. The group seemed like they preferred to intimidate and squeeze the information from him. I had lined up a quest that Devargo would have asked for to be completed, but instead a fight ensued after a PC started to try to barge his way closer to Devargo. Devargo saw this a hostile threat.
As I ran the fight, Devargo continued to negotiate the price for the information. Devargo, continued to smile and show wit as he was using this to test both a group of new recruits and the group. (I had leveled Devargo up a fair bit, as I hated his build) he was purely enjoying "the discussion".
When the price was met, the fight stopped and they shook hands and had a round of drinks. As a few of the fallen Eels End recruits, grew cold.
It should be noted, my Devargo plays a much bigger role throughout the campaign. In Chapter three, he is a 3rd player in the turf war for Old Korvosa. With the Emperor trying to shake him down for Taxes, he intends to offer information to the group as opposed to Amen.
If digital is not a option, and printing is costly. Another option I have used is the large pads used in presentations with large 1'inch square grids. They can be found office supply stores such as Staples. With these you can draw the maps ahead of time. So the map work was front loaded.
I know for myself this worked, as I could really put in more details, I could redraw things if I got them wrong. Less pressure during the game, and it really helped keep the game running smooth.
I am going to be running this using Maptool (sort of like Roll20), and had been working towards this particular map. My current, plan is making the circular section a different layer and rotating it. Out of all sections of the adventure I feel it is allowing them to cheat the experience as opposed to elevate by going digitial. As not being in first person in situation, you can tell it changed, and how. (the whole seeing the Forrest, as opposed to the trees thing).
I had thought of going old school style and breaking it up to each room and having them plot it on the map. Then rotating the rooms, and only telling them which door they entered. Knowing what direction is what, is the biggest gift in any maze. I still might! But, its a drastic change from my normal prep and presentation style.
Have you thought about using Gestalt Characters?
More info D20srd.org
I have even found ways to use Herolabs to setup Gestalt. Worked like a charm to make my DM life super easy. Players never felt without, and saved me trying to make a NPC who didnt always get the finishing blow.
I 100% respect the OP, if you finished the AP, as a badge of commitment you well deserve the right to your opinion. But I disagree with a lot of your review. As I absolutely loved running the AE version of Runelords! Coming from old school modules to this was a total cake walk, DM prep wise! This forum alone was a DM's Mithral mine of information, as it was like Google Maps/Waze for my groups course through the AP. It was like having years and years of play testing at my fingers. Something I never dreamed of having in all my years of TTRPG's. I loved being able to have so much amazing feedback from others, that offered me total confidence to put my personal spin on a truly epic adventure. With the heavy lifting of the frame work of the adventure built, my job was to decorate and make the NPCS come to life so that my Characters could shine. I think having some of the things left semi incomplete is so important to allow a personal stamp in certain parts of the story. I further feel it is unfair to expect a high level adventure to do everything for you CR wise, tactics wise or even plot hole wise. I felt the rails on this adventure in specific were amazingly easy to keep on the tracks... while not making it so obvious that I was covering them up. Pre-written is not a excuse for DM's to regurgitate the story. I spent at-least 2 hours out of game prepping for each one hour in game, and I mostly ran the adventure as written!
I agree with many, on Chapter 5. As I found I did most of my hardest, (yet most rewarding) work in this area. But,it is the chapter all of my players look back on and rave about, so I will call that success! My Arkrhyst was flat out brutal, and still lives to this day. Stories of his terror continue in all my adventures...a memory of the failure to kill him. But as I said, I had to work hard to bring it to life. Simple things like custom soundscapes for each section of the forge, and Maptool's for easy exploration on all sections. I loved pushing the different politics between the sections, with it, they talked there way out of 3 sections. Plenty of amazing Role-play to be had in each Dungeon. I further loved challenging the group via the tactics and theme of each section of the Runeforge.
After running 4 AP's, I agree with many here. My biggest advise on any pre-written adventure is to flesh out the NPC's and Villains in your mind. If you cant envision them as written, then change them and the combat tactics. I treat them as My PC's. With that, I imagine how they fit into the story and foreshadow them, perhaps even in a characters background, dreams, flashbacks, create props, and rumors. Make them come to life! The amount of content that would take from the writers to write monologues, and to fit them into your players narratives is well beyond the scope of any Pre-Written Adventure. An AP is a multi year commitment from my players, this effort is well worth the reward.
I didn't enjoy role-playing Shalelu at the time. So as I had 5 players, she was not needed for extra firepower as they were already messing up the CR math. I replaced her by making him be one of the characters brother, another reason to head to Turtle Back Ferry.
It allowed me to change a key dynamic for the character at few moments. Played to the theme of the much older misfit brother sent away to be taught a lesson, and made something for himself.
Later when a character died, a player was allowed to assume the game as Vale. Further hi-jinx were had, as I got to boss around a player a bit. Barking orders like a drill Sargent. So feel free to change things up a bit.
Just note, on the back side of this chapter the hard pull back to Sandpoint. Without her, I felt I didn't have the proper NPC voice to go hell or high-water back to Sandpoint. My group wanted to rest, umm nope.
I'm running this AP in 5e. Figured I would re-do a few of the maps as practice. Here is "All The World Is Meat" in case anyone finds it useful. https://i.imgur.com/qkQguMn.png
I always different versions of maps. Thanks for sharing!
Just a question, as I noticed that there are no windows on the upstairs portion of the map! Was this done on purpose?
Paizo has been much better about making higher resolution map packs with the Adventure Paths over the years, so it has limited the need to make maps in order to run the game.
Some users still post some community maps, but typically it will be a few random maps that fell short of what the DM's felt was needed.
I use a TV on the table as well. I use Maptool and token tool from rptool.net to handle the running of all my games. It is my champion! Does the Fog of War, handles my tokens, and places a re-sizable grid on the map. It is 100% free.
Its semi easy to learn, and players can even login remotely. I have had some sick players video chat in, and access maptool, they could even move their own tokens. With the virtual tokens, it could even be played in a living room, via a HDMI cable.
Not sure about others, but for the Pharsma tie in. I would use the story hook in chapter 2 Part 1, "Burn up the Dead". In the hardcover Pg 81. Or have them assign them Chapter 2, Part 2 Mission "The Hungry Dead". Both are great ways to avoid the Cressida, always asking them to work for free flaw. Pg 101.
I think the Oracle being a Royal Dr.sounds like a lot of fun. However from my perspective it would also take a lot of work on part of the DM when the questions start pouring in. The character may be too close to the plot answers if on that payroll for story as written. Totally still doable obviously. Myself, I would do something like having the Dr. be hired by the Church of Abdar when the Royal position does not become available in the cities time of need. Basically Chapter 1, Part 2 " the Healers Hands" (page 84 HC) The Church needs additional help, as they are down hands due to the missing Arbiter. It would be purely business.
Finally, from what I understand the Acadamae is closed throughout, most of the AP. Of course, as a DM you can most certainly open it. I personally would look across the river to The Theumanexus College, which is a small wizard school located in the East Shore district of the city of Korvosa. It would allow them some degree of flexibility.
Not sure if any of this helps or not. But that's the great thing about a world we create as a DM. The audience is stupid as to what is canon until we make it canon. I personally try not to change to much about what is written in the AP, just add too it. Simply to avoid pulling a link out the chain, that I may have miss read earlier.
I often feel Chaotic neutral is a cop out for alignment. Its like the "I am a orphan" or "parents were killed" background. I find that most do this to avoid a weakness of caring or to avoid building the story line. My last group, 4 out of 4 came back with these tropes, and I was forced to help them dig in deeper to have some relationships of some sort. The alignment, most players don't play right anyways.
In ROTRL my personal caveat was they needed to have a honest reason to care about the world enough to risk there lives to save it.
I would love to see the Age of Worms Hardcover. I wont hold my breath on it, due to... reasons.
I greatly prefer the hardcover format above all other formats.
My reason for wanting the Hard Cover is that the story was great! But the editing and the flow was horrible. They would have a chance re-review and fix the issues that have caused it to die with the bad reviews. So its like having it play tested by loving fans for years and giving feedback as what works and didn't work. To me this was the key points of me choosing ROTRL and COTCT hardcovers. The fan feed back, re-visioning and changing the shortfalls. That stuff is gold!!
I am also planning on bringing Devargo back into the mix in book three. He will be coming to them for muscle. In exchange for revenge and information, and if that doesn't work..good ole blackmail. (Having them tailed within the city, and trips to Vencarlo's, Trina etc.. he is no fool.)
I simply do not like Pilts background as written for my group. I feel he is a boss without a history. So, I am having him be an old friend of Lamm's. He has changed his name to Pilts, as per his stage name to cover his creepy BDSM/sadistic past (used to run underground human cage matches). So the group will have some understanding of whom he is, and a strong desire to want to stop him. As opposed to insert unknown boss name here.
Devargos angle. Pilts has been asking taxes from all business within his turf "Offering protection". He further wants a piece of the illegal dealings going on at the Eels End. Devargo is "not going to pay this idiot a damn copper (spits)." So, obviously he wants this shut down. His business is already hurting big time due to quarantine, Pilts running the streets means no customers can make it. Turf war will come to the docks. Devargo is doing what Devargo just does, and is playing some of his hands.
So even though, my group had a falling out with Devargo in the first rounds of negotiations. They were able to secure the information for Cressida Kroft. However, In the dealings, the Wizard was not able to secure the release of Menjenko due to Devargos asking price. But later on, she managed to secure enough coin to place it on retainer, and a task in exchange for the release.
In doing so he was very impressed by her bravery, as that she came to him alone and was brave enough to trust the mission he had tasked her with (he knew she would get the groups help to complete it). So, he knows the group is better then most of his current team. They are also more expendable.
The Akonas, in my story do not care about Old Korvosa. Arkona is old money, thus it is secured throughout the city, and it's roots run deep throughout. They could squash, Pilts or Devargo, but its pointless.. and keeps eyes off them.
I would use a more blunt approach. As, I personally think they may have missed the urgency memo. I would straight up talk to the players, and give them some options:
1) You take these months to craft, and you have no reason to return to Korvosa as the city will be way beyond there reach power wise. As the time spent they spent, Ileosa spent demolishing any hope they had at getting aid to take the city (aka you waited to long, and we choose another adventure to play)
2) They scale back the time to a more reasonable week or so and they keep the pace and have a chance to return to Korvosa and complete the Adventure as the Adventure Path is set.
or you as a DM.
Just my 2 copper
This last weekend my group secured the release of Majenko. I show many groups have posted his adventures that began afterwards. I was curious if any daring groups have gone on to create his back story before being rescued.. or how he came to be imprisoned. If you could share some of these.. that would be awesome.
Congrats's on your kick off Taks
Herolab gives you a second license at no additional cost!
This secondary license can be obtained automatically via the License Administration website at www.lonewolfdevel.com, or by selecting the "Obtain Secondary License" option from the "License" menu within Hero Lab.
For users with more than two devices, they offer the ability to purchase up to three additional secondary licenses for $10.00 each, supporting a maximum of five (5) total license numbers.
COCT also has the whole adventure path stats available for purchase. This allows you to load each encounter and all the stats, as well as modify them on the fly.
After 35 years of playing. I pushed very hard to to reduce the printing of maps, and limited print outs of any stat blocks to only boss mobs. It took some re-learning how to DM my game. But, as of this last year my whole group has gone 100% digital. Maptool, Herolab and Syrinscape. We can play remote or in person. I can also prep months in advance.
I highly recommend going digital! For an occasional gamer printing or chessex mats are great. But after a campaign the cost of ink vs the cost of a LED TV screen any cost and time lost will be easily saved over a few months of gaming.
Just lay a flat screen tv on the table, get a sheet of plexi-glass to cut to fit it. Then use Maptool (as it's free) and you can change the sizes of any map have fog of war and still use Mini's.
Sadly, not that I could find. No offense to those that I did find.
But then again, GCP has spoiled me on what Podcasts could be! Now I find I am a Podcast snob.
Most of the ones I find on COTCT seem to be done via remote play, or with bad microphone quality (echos, and/or major audio issues). Have players who do not attempt role play, or do not take the story/ recording of the series seriously at all. Or stopped recording a few episodes in.
If anyone can share a Pod that is worth a listed. I would also appreciate this.
My group ran into something of the same issue the other day with this same scenario.
They are fresh back from All the Worlds Meat. So like yours.. way to early.
I side tracked them with a quest.. Eels End, and had a NPC talk them out of it. I think I phrased it like. "Your gonna need some major muscle,or hard proof to deal with those accusations like that." "those guys are very scary", followed up, by trying to give another easy road of adventure.
In some cases, I have found that being in character and straight up logically honest, most groups take the hint to take the railroad back to the track.
Winter is coming!
My current Pen and paper gaming group is preparing for winter and we are looking for options to play, when the Mother Nature rears its ugly head. We currently use Maptool on a TV on the table for the mapping, and HeroLabs for the character sheets.
In the process of my research I stumbled upon Fantasy Grounds, and the Curse of the Crimson Thrones Module. This option is little bit higher in price then my normal gaming budget allows, but I am always willing to splurge for the good stuff. These however, have no real reviews online (that I could find). For those that have not seen this, it appears to do most of the Pre-Set up work. In theory this would translate into time savings.
Has anybody ever played this specific Fantasy Grounds module, and if so, do you have any sort of review you could say about it?
Or any suggestions for other VTT options, as we are also reviewing the other usual suspects (roll20, d20pro, Table Top Simulator etc…) just don’t want to go through blowing the budget and a learning curve if there are better ways.
Thanks in advance!
This is one of the three maps that made me switch to a LED TV and digital mapping system for my non digital, in person games. I can zoom in and zoom out at will, with Digital tokens or use physical figures(my typical preference). Sandpoint in Chapter 4 was another big one. Just couldn't fathom how I was going to pull that off and do it justice. My players love it.
All that paper and all that ink.. so close yet so far away from what I wanted to achieve. Made the switch, and I have never looked back.
Cost me around $200 and I am set for
I have not seen a good podcast for Rotrl yet (none that I have found yet). However, if you are new to the game, the Glass Cannon Podcast is a great podcast overall, they are running Giant Slayer, but is an amazing inspiration of how a game can be.
If you are looking for Runelords specifically I found a few youtube playthroughs that helped me on setting the stage. Tabletop Talk Rise of the Runelords was pretty good.
Most of the good ones I have watched however stopped a few sessions in, sadly.
But I agree with the above post. It is always wise to personalize the content to the group. Really makes it feel special. It is a really long story, but don't let that scare you. Just take it session by session, and remember the players don't typically know when you have made a story mistake...
Lastly, if you are in this forum.. there is so much help available from the previous and current DM'S and players it is really insane, inspiring and overwhelming. If you need help, or suggestions on how to handle or fix something... Just search or post. You really can't go wrong
I think this sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Always love to see role play over take brawn. I also love the goblins antics, superstitions, and chaotic nature. My fear from the perspective of a DM running the Adventure Path, would be to ensure it doesnt freight train into a gimmick taking over, or side tracking a campaign to much. As if left unchecked it could break the dynamics of the Adventure path a bit. So I would try to limit this, or kill it, in a way fitting to your group. Perhaps run it as a side campaign, my group used to run a session of We Be Goblins, between each Chapter of Rotrl. Or simply have them come back to visit them ever time they have to return to Sand point.
If they tried to have them tag a long however. I would find ways to have the group become slowly annoyed by having the goblins to close, after all, A Goblins life, is of chaos and curiosity.
- Perhaps a Goblin tries to poison the God, to test if he is truly immortal.
etc etc..Really anything Goblins might want to test theories on about gods, after they revert back from being awed by a god, to reverting back to their curious mischievous ways.
Good stuff, thanks for sharing. Not a lot Spires stuff out there. Always appreciate when they do.
I surprisingly had a lot of fun running this session for my group. I was really nervous at first! But it really took some work on my part ahead of time, to ensure it ran smoothly. It was very important to me that it was done in one sitting, so I had to time the previous session to end as soon as they entered the front door. I also warned the group ahead of time of a possible shorter or longer, "darker" session would be occurring.
- I made cards to pass out for each haunt. I also had thought about whom would be ideal for specific haunts ahead of time. I advised if they had any questions, they could pull me aside to discuss the haunt specifically. But rule was, act out! what was on the card as much as possible. As they did, I gave additional details.
- I had a talk with group after giving the first card about, about how the mechanic works, and what was possible with them. Pushing hard the role playing portion of things.
- The haunts, while potentially deadly... were not meant to be deadly. They were meant to tell a story! and meant to encourage role play to tell the story. The worst one for my group, was a player wanting to do more eating of moss on the walls on the boss fight.. as opposed to fight.
- As far as the Carrion's go. I had them start showing up as they were almost to the house. Appearing in small groups at first, and then slowly coming in larger numbers after they were reviewing the first rooms of the home. By the time they looked out first window... the area was covered with them. All watching the house closely. Was used more the force them to explore as opposed to flee. Until a lighting storm all but trapped them.
- I used a digital map to run this one with fog of war, so that the group could explore visually. Allowing me to focus on haunts, and role play. There are some really good maps out there. Creepy music, dim lights and fancy old table cloth completed the scene.
- I had one player express dislike for horror games ahead of time. It was a good talk, and allowed me to take certain cards into mind. It was a chance to advise it was only for one session, and would not be gore related. They enjoyed the session afterwards.
- No characters died in this session. 2 came close. Watch out for the Vorel's Phage
[SPOILERS] Kill It, Loot It, Sell It: An Itemised and Valued List of Curse of the Crimson Throne, Updated Edition
As with the whole swamp area, I turned it all into a flavor piece. The ship discovery was a very simple eerie ghost chase, with no real answers. I had some blurs of ghosts here and there.. and then gone. Mostly to show that the swap was one odd place. Coupled with the other events showing souls of the swap had been upset. I felt it doesn't add a lot to the story overall, other then setting up the meeting. However, as less is sometimes more.. it was great session showing that some mysteries are simply never meant to be solved.
I also have been prepping a major re-work of this section of Hook Mountains for awhile now. I really felt my first group missed out on a lot off the sinister plot of Xenisha and Lucresia, so I decided to amp them up, and have them work together a bit more.
My vision also has the Paradise working as a ferry/casino, with multiple destinations between many of the smaller villages. The group would be investigating its possible connection to Xenisha via advertisements and odd letters found in the clock tower. They most likely would try to pick up the Ferry in Whistledown as it would the closest, and on the southern half of the lake. The sisters goal is still to blow up the dam, and anything on the waterway all the way to Magnimar is up for harvest.
I reworked the start of the Graul encounter and moved the Graul farm to a house on the way to Whistle Down ferry dock. I modified this encounter to start via the group coming across a young human girl trying to escape Rukkus Graul, (there would be no Black Arrows are on property her family are the Inn Keepers in Whistledown). Kind of like Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The Paradise will start to burn down with the group still on it, Lucresia making her villainous escape, just off shore from Turtle Back Ferry. Hopefully, the group will be escaping just in time. They will get to meet the town in a time of tragedy. Trying to further figure out where Lucresia might have run off too.
James Jacobs wrote:
Thank you for taking the time to listen to the fans, the DMs's, and the players on this forum. It's like 10 years of play test feedback. It is very rare that anything in this industry gets a do over. It stands as a testament to the quality of work you guys released so many years back.
That said! I for one am thrilled about this release! ROTRL AE was a big part of why I picked up Pathfinder. I fell in love with it because of it's well polished feeling. I actually enjoyed reading it, from cover to cover. 2 years, and countless hours later my group is almost finished.
I too, would love Pawns to be created, and a update to the Map Folio.. with high enough resolution to be used in D20, maptools etc.
I beg of you to make more of these in the future.
I had one of my players receive a letter from a close relative who was stationed at Ft Rannick. It was a letter to his family and at the characters parents house when they visited Magnimar. It discussed his journey through the area, and the Fort. It was small and very vague in details.
I also used his parents house as a way to provide recent back ground about a string of local murders, and a local gang that was trying to shake his family down for money. At one point, I literally handed my character a brick with a note attached and told him this just came flying through the front window. Good times...
My group is currently using a 32' LED Tv for mapping, I take the base off and I lay it flat on the dining room table at game time. I use maptool as I find it has the best VTT options for in person gaming, especially for its ability to zoom in and out, and scale the map on the fly. Oh, and it's free.
When choosing the TV, I chose the cheapest and thinnest one with the least outer bevel, and then placed a piece of plexi-glass over the screen. Then we use good ole miniatures on the plexi-glass, works like a charm!
On the biggest maps (Fort Rannick & Sandpoint)we tend to use digital tokens, so we can shrink the grid to get a closer look at the larger area. Was much easier to run this way.
Cost me around $200 bucks total. Easily!!!.. the best investment I have made for gaming ever. As I can run the dungeon and not fiddle with printers, ways to cover maps, or drawing a huge dungeon out room by room. Then when not in use as a gaming screen, my daughter uses it as a normal tv. Added bonus.
I chose a 20 point buy, after almost going with a 25 point buy. I am very happy I did. It is a long campaign, and characters will have plenty of time to have vast treasure and power at their fingers before it's over. Personally, I found that by the time the group was level 10 + my 4 person group had a pretty good case of power creep (So much available to them at there finger tips, that every thing you throw at them a counter option could easily be found).
I was having to constantly adjust most of the encounters, by raising the strategy levels of the encounters, adding additional CR adjustments, and ensuring the players were kept somewhat in check gear wise. It made it tougher to walk the line as a DM between a great encounter, to over powered encounter or under-powered. Had I not been doing my best to contain it from the start, it would have been a lot less fun for all involved by Chapter 5.
One more item of note: I started off with restricting the books of play, to Core Rule Books and APG. But at level 8, I allowed additional books to be available to them. I feel it was a mistake. I simply feel once the rabbit hole was opened, so did my enjoyment of DM'ing it.
If I do run it again:
My group had fought and nearly defeated Longtooth in Sandpoint, before he managed to fly away. He was still feeling somewhat defeated and licking his wounds when they stumbled upon his cave scouting for a way into the Fort.
One of my players actually managed to bribe Longtooth via coin to drop them into the Jorgenfist pit. The dragon figured best and worst case scenario they die. Either way he got paid for sending them to there certain deaths. Was a lot of fun to roleplay and a highlight of the campaign.
The group used invis, and feather fall to complete the entry into Jorgenfist.
I would have Freezemaw, heal, rebuff, and then change tactics as you mentioned. Perhaps Invis / come in during blizzard or have him come to greet them about the time they are entering the cave entrance. (Icy hallway + deep pit + breath weapon = fun for dm). I feel he is a smart apex predator and should have a ego to match. I got 3 + encounters out of this guy and he still is destroying villages to this day, while trying to find the group to get his treasure back.
Invis, freezing fog, and blizzard are just nasty when breath weapons are involved.
Freezemaw has dragon senses, dark-vision, snow vision and blind-sense so it doesn't matter if the PCs are obscured via the fog and blizzard effects, as long as he has a straight line on them he doesn't need to roll perceptions. Freezemaw also has icewalk so is not effected by the grease aspects.
I found two other threads on the subject that might help out.
Great job, and thanks for sharing. I could see something like this being a ongoing item during the campaign to add drama, raise ego's and push random side plot's.
Fenrick Talon wrote:
The first main change is I’m going to have the Paradise NOT be sunk. There should be ample opportunities for roleplaying in Turtleback Ferry. Mission one will be getting onto the Paradise, which will be a large gambling boat. I’m planning on a dramatic confrontation with Lucrectia there (she’ll have at least half a dozen well-armed body guards) plus fifty or so townsfolk caught in the crossfire. I’m planning on having the boat be primed to burn (guards pouring oil outside) so when the fight breaks out, so does the fire. Imagine the chaos of screaming gamblers trying to get out (possibly with the doors barred if the setup works) and a dramatic showdown as the boat burns. If she escapes, she will flee back to Hook Mountain, if not no worries. The party still has plenty to do.
I am working on a version of almost this myself. If you could, please let me know how it goes? what worked well, what you would change and any highlights. All in All... any in-sight would simply be helpful.