The issue if the party sneaks in and ends the Masquerade before it starts is that Barzillai can use that for propaganda. "The Silver Ravens are working against creating peace in this city," the Ruby Masquerade was presented as a peace offering between Barzillai and Kintargo. If the PCs prevent that from happening, he can leverage that to his advantage to turn the populace against them.
Allowing the trap to go off will result in lives lost, but you can prevent everyone from dying and get the populace on your side by protecting them from Barzillai's attempt to murder a bunch of people.
There's also the thing of the PCs can easily pick up that a trap is coming through Tayacet, but they don't know the nature of the trap. They have no idea if he's going to filibuster to the population to turn them against the Ravens, or if he's going to stage some form of attack, or straight up murdering the guests.
So, when my party comes to the Temple of Asmodeus raid and going to the Devil's Bells, they're going to have a lot of issues since none of them rolled any arcane casters. Before I go any further, I am adapting this for 5e rather than Pathfinder.
The party is currently an Ancestral Guardian Barbarian, Swashbuckler Rogue, Arcane Cleric, and Hunter Ranger. I've already checked the additional spell list and the Arcane cleric doesn't get fly. Since the belfry is about 200 feet above the centre of the nave, how would this party be able to scale the cathedral to exorcise the bells?
In a similar vein, I made a couple of minor edits to the story as a whole to fit an idea I have at the end, which does include Thrune getting another notable lieutenant in the form of Tayacet.
Tayacet organized the Wex murders during the adventure and is directly involved with starting the Ruby Massacre. She is however being built up to be a double agent to get information on the party with minimal direct interaction with them prior to the Masquerade. If my party were able to capture her, she would definitely know about the Masquerade plot and most likely have knowledge of what happened to Shensen and Jilia due to their proximity to the opera house.
For the Masquerade, it would also make sense for Rivozair and Corinstian to know as well as the former needed to relocate and the latter provided Cizmekris for the deception.
I also like how no one is bothering to figure out if Tombus knows anything, since Thrune just views him with contempt and probably doesn't tell him anything anyway.
GM PDK wrote:
If there are any other major lieutenants still alive (like Aluceda, Corinstian, Tombus, Kyrre, Trex), have them come with Barzy to bolster numbers. You can also have him return with a pile of summoned devils like erinyes, barbed devils, even ice devils teleporting onto the main stage during the celebration. If the Hellknights are still an ally, you can have Barzy come back with a troop of them, or even just troops he took from Egorian. Leading up to the celebration, Thrune could also meet with sympathetic nobles like the Delronge and Sarini households to get their personal guards to help during the attack.
Barzillai's stock in Egorian has certainly dropped because the very thing he was supposed to prevent happened and he lost, but he still might be able to get some minor support from Abrogail just before she turns her attention to retaking Westcrown from the Glorious Reclamation. Although because of the situation, the support he would get is minimal at best and more likely to be nothing. He is fairly charismatic - at least in my build of him - and he might be able to convince some people within Egorian to help him retake Kintargo to provide services such as devil summoning or just being extra bodies.
The issue with having Barzillai live in a house until he becomes a genius loci is that his self-loathing and ego will not let him do it. Him losing Kintargo while still alive would murder any reputation or power he has in Egorian because that would be a public failure and he would definitely be stricken from the Chelish history books. Remember, the main reason for Barzillai wanting to become a genius loci is because he would leave nothing in any Chelish history book and that terrifies him. Barzillai is intelligent, but he is still a very emotional person and his actions can be explained by falling into one of his many flaws.
Teleporting away and coming back is a method for him to regain Kintargo, wipe out all forms of insurgency (there's so many Silver Ravens and supporters at the ceremony), and regain any lost reputation in Egorian. Him dying in the first battle would also mean that he would "live" the rest of his life being tormented in Hell until his apotheosis, which would be an incredibly unpleasant experience. The main reason he begins to change into a genius loci in the last book is because there is a clause in his contract with Mephistopheles which kicks off that apotheosis if Cheliax cedes control of Ravounel, something he cannot guarantee anyone who kills him will do. Losing many of his allies (including Corinstian and Aluceda) is definitely a setback, but with the element of surprise he can get the drop on the people celebrating since they would not be expecting an attack at a celebration like this. Especially because the general populace think he's defeated and won't come back anytime soon. If Rivozair is still alive, this could really lead to the city's leadership falling apart and allowing Barzillai to swoop in and take control again.
Warped Savant wrote:
The hauntings begin regardless of whether or not the contract is signed because the act of beginning the negotiations is Cheliax admitting they do not have control over the region anymore and jump starts Thrune's apotheosis. So when the negotiations begin, the answer should change to a "yes" not after the contract is signed.
I'm working in 5e which has some interesting problems regarding some of the plans, which will make this reveal amazing when it happens in my game. I'm running it as there's an expensive and complicated ritual to make True Polymorph permanent (True Polymorph does work for this situation, Cizmekris just becomes weaker and loses a lot of his defences in human form). I'm going to be putting information of the ritual in the Records Hall alongside the other rituals the PCs find there to explain why a bone devil was polymorphed for more than an hour at a time instead of having a small army of wizards who can cast True Polymorph. The reveal I am ecstatic to have happen is when they think they've finally killed Thrune only for him to polymorph back into a bone devil and have phase 2 of the fight begin.
What would probably make the most sense is to have Tombus lead it since he's supposed to raid the Lucky Bones. You could just restructure that encounter to him trying to burn Old Kintargo to the ground.
Tiarise is also just camping in the Records Hall because she's finishing up a ritual to turn her into an undead which will happen in the final part of the adventure.
I see the other major lieutenants such as Kyrre and Corinstian staying in one place because having your generals or lieutenants on the field of battle can very quickly lead to a loss of battlefield control. They're organizing where those forces are being sent and the missions to take them out are attempting to kill the snake by removing the head from the various organizations that support Thrune. Thrune is also ensuring that the places of power he holds are being defended by his strongest soldiers to reduce the chance of losing those holdings to the Silver Ravens, it's why Trex is on Bleakbridge instead of going through the streets.
I have a different random table built in which the party can run across skirmishes in the streets and other elements which would definitely happen during a battle in a city. You could edit the one in the book to include something like that. Other things in my table include encountering a building on fire, a Rivozair flyby, stumbling across a significant ally like Cassius or Octavio, and various patrols from groups of Thrune supporters like the Hellknights.
The way I'm running it is to introduce as much of the main lieutenants early on.
My party caught a glimpse of Trex at the end of the first session as she was charging towards Aria Park to help with the arrests there. Before they go to the Unsanctioned Excruciations encounter, they'll hear a rumour that Tombus will be there. I'm going to have Tiarise be pushing Lucella in TotT to be more antagonistic towards the party. Octavio is going to have a personal grudge against Kyrre and bring her up to the party fairly early on in his story line. One of my characters is an ex-Asmodean, so she's already familiar with Corinstian and heard rumours right about when she left that he was putting a lot of time and resources into something in the crypts, but left before that project was finished.
I've also created some random encounter tables where they could be running across one or more lieutenants early on in Kintargo before the full revolt.
In terms of leading a rebellion, it would be pretty useful to have eyes on leaders of various organizations against you like the CCG, Dottari, and Hellknights.
I'm doing this because I'm planning on bringing them all back as powerful devils in the Tower of Bone dungeon at the very end alongside Corinstian who is already in the book as written, Rivozair, and Nox.
I finished my first session last night, and it went pretty well.
I'm about to start this game tomorrow and I'm really excited to see my totally conspicuous party lead a rebellion. Seriously, what I know right now of the party (character creation for half the party is tomorrow): an albino lizardman, a blue tiefling, what will most likely be a halfling riding a big dog, and a rogue with a guinea pig. I've also been working on adapting it into a system I'm more familiar with and easier for my party since half of them are new to TTRPGs.
I'm going to do what I can to introduce Thrune's main lieutenants (like Tiarise, Corinstian, Trax, and Tombus) earlier in the adventure so the party is aware of their existence prior to their major encounters. I'm also expecting my players to have several grudges against Thrune's lieutenant's, especially my tiefling against Tiarise because of the tooth fairy incident.
Don't forget, Blosodriette still remembers her mortal life because of the Soul Anchor. If she's still around (or possibly redeemed) by the time the party learns of the Soul Anchor's existence and are trying to find it, she might be another source of information.
The Soul Anchor lift is in the graveyard in Old Kintargo.
You can also use this opening time to begin setting up the other lieutenants among Thrune's forces. You could have Corinstian or Aluceda do some public prayer or service outside of their churches (more likely Corinstian).
For my personal time frame, Tiarise hasn't completed the Tooth Fairy ritual until after my party has cleared out the Wasp's Nest and the unsanctioned excruciations won't begin until sometime after the first part since Tombus and the CCG are too busy building the doghouses and finding the dogs for them.
A lot of what Warped Savant says can also apply to the time frame that I have, with only the Salt Works being the major rumour going around before the protest begins. The advantage of this adventure path with the missions in the middle parts of each book allows the players to find the story out more slowly so they can learn more about how the city works and interacting with random people who happen to stop into the place where they're staying.
Yeah, my plan is to increase the presence of a lot of Thrune allies like Trex, Tombus, Corinstian, and Tiarise. I'm also planning on not having Tayacet turn against Thrune so all of these allies can come back alongside Nox and Rivozair in the Tower of Bone at the very end. It'll also make their encounters stronger narratively speaking, especially with Tayacet's betrayal during the Ruby Masquerade.
A couple of other ideas I have is to have Trex charge past the party towards Aria Park after rescuing Rexus and he recognizes her, she'll also be visiting the Holding House once a week beginning soon to transport prisoners to Kintargo Keep as needed. Tiarise is kinda built into the situation with the Tooth Fairies (one of my players is gonna be a tiefling who is living in the Devil's Nursery I'm pretty sure, so there's definitely going to be a grudge there). I'm thinking of having Tombus try to rough up an ally of theirs, probably Setrona in Book 2 or 3. Corinstian is also going to be a more public figure until Song of Silver begins.
I'll answer these as best as I can from my reading of the section and the map provided in the book.
1). This is in the south of Aria Park according to the description, and by the map, it looks like there is a small building that's probably an entryway into the park itself. Kinda like a gate, and most likely where the players will be entering from.
2). This is probably a mistake that made it through editing. The scale on the map seems good as is, but if you want to widen the bridges to 10 feet each, it shouldn't break the map at all.
3). The thick gray lines are most likely walls, this area was used for impromptu performances before Barzillai arrived, so the audience would be near the statue at the bottom of the map probably. The walls would help focus the sound from singing/performing so audiences could better hear them.
4). My guess would be the pond is around 5 feet deep. Not too deep, but deep enough to inconvenience pretty much everyone who ended up in there.
5). The small squares in the pagoda are most likely chairs, the weird kidney shaped blob at the top is probably a table, and the rectangle at the bottom is a bench from the looks of it.
6). At least 2 are probably on the pagoda to make sure the dogs don't decide to escape and to watch the prisoner. The other 2 thugs are most likely near the bridges to keep people from interfering.
7). I would probably have the two thugs near the chains where the dogs are to release them in case the players interfere, and to hold the dogs back when the food and water is placed for the prisoner.
The map certainly does promote having a bottleneck which is probably why the thugs chose it. It's a public place where a riot was recently crushed by the dottari, it's right outside where Barzillai is currently staying, and the bridges make it difficult to have anyone come and try to rescue any prisoners.
My personal note for this part of the adventure is when the unsanctioned doghousing begins, my players are going to hear rumours that Tombus is there, but he isn't when they go to check it out. He's seeing if he can find some more people to toss into a doghouse.
Warped Savant wrote:
I think it would make sense for Kyrre to try and get more troops to guard the keep since they are there to watch over the prisoners within Kintargo Keep and now Thrune knows the party is after someone in there. IIRC, Song of Silver states that Thrune knows Jackdaw is in there, but because of the redactions to that part of history is unaware of who that person actually is. He might put 2 and 2 together and send another troop or two to reinforce the keep the next time the party arrives. Inquisitors would probably work better than regular dottari due to the nature of the prisoners there.
This would work more in my build for Thrune, but you could have him start daily scrying on the members he has seen through the disguises of. Zella has divination abilities and Corinstian has access to the scrying room in the Temple of Asmodeus. With the scrying, he might also be able to learn their names and can use that against them during part 3 and a little bit of part 4.
If the party encounters Cizmekris or another close ally of Thrune's and they have a solid plan to counter the party, it might make them more paranoid. It can also let Thrune learn of the location of their hideout since they sold the gifts he gave them at the end of this book.
Well, the first thing I can think of is that the PCs don't have access to the opera house until the end of Dance of the Damned, which means they lose their best location for putting on any performance. I think finding a suitable location would be an interesting complication for the players to have to overcome.
I'm hoping someone has an answer for this, because I wasn't seeing anything on this forum. I'm looking at starting this campaign, and I like crafting, so I pay close attention to the maps. I was looking at the Long Roads Coffeehouse map and can't tell what the things on the left side of the main room are. Are they booths? My co-DM thinks they're weapon racks.
They might be places to hang coats, umbrellas, etc since Kintargo is supposed to be kinda like San Francisco/London like in weather.