The main pitfall with this AP is that it is easy to let things lag, and for things to slow down to a crawl if you, as the GM, don't move the action along. Also, the AP can easily devolve into a series of encounters if you don't have the right impetus.
Key #1 is to make sure that each of the PCs have the right motivations and ambitions[ i'd give the group the intro flyer and guage their interest first and let them make their characters based on that). This in and of itself should make the campaign intense. If you have the PCs with the right motivations, you can have a fab time; in fact this AP might even be less work since the PCs will move things along.
It is also important to moving time along (i'd do it between sessions via email or other means if possible rather than asking "so you have six months, what do you do?" during a game session), and letting events happen, and letting the PCs react to it ("you are sitting around eating grapes and entertaining the price of persia when a filth covered peasant comes running to the throne room door...."but, but the owlbear ate the ENTIRE TOWN!"...as your guards try to get rid of the rabble).
Hope that makes sense.
The running the kingdom stuff is purely optional. It is a matter of tracking what the PCs have and have not done; I'd recommend that you do this offline (so as to not slow down game play) or go with the kingdom in the background rules. However, a lot of the "plot" has to do with the responsibilities of being in charge, as noted above, so it's important to preserve that sense and you can add whatever headaches or heartaches as you so choose. Being King and his minions is a b+%&~.
EDIT: One other key point- you'll need to develop a lot of NPCs and really RP them up and have them be living, breathing people rather than just props. The more the PCs care about their subjects (and vice versa) the more fun the AP will be and the more the PCs will want to take care of all the troubles they face; after all, it might be a much more meaningful task to save your family and friends from danger than saving the world (for example, one of the PCs has his entire tribe of displaced elves following him and settling in the kingdom).
SOME SPOILERS TO FOLLOW:
One of the most important points i'd like to make is to ONLY run adventures, and even parts of encounters that you know you'll enjoy, and that your group will enjoy. If an encounter or part of an adventure doesn't sit well with you or you find tedious, then don't run it, or if possible, modify it into something you'll enjoy.
1. I have DM'd the following from start to finish:
Kingmaker, Legacy of Fire, RotRL, Savage Tide, Age of Worms
I have used parts of adventures from the following APs:
Serpents Skull, Second Darkness, Curse of the Crimson Throne
I have read all of the APs and have used bits and pieces from all of them, including Council of Thieves [there are some interesting bits in the Sixfold Trial and Mother of Flies; very cinematic, fun encounters].
Alas, i have never had a chance to play since I GM my groups.
2. "High level wierdness syndrome" goes something like this; Party, during the initial adventures, form relationships, have a base of operation and are intrinsically tied to a location, the people, and the plots therein.
However, as the group gets to the higher levels, it is hard for the module writers to challange the higher level capabilities while taking all of the parties abilities into consideration and maintaining versimilitude. Hence, the party is sent of into the netherlands (usually a plane of some sort) to accomplish task(s) where the netherworldly creatures can challenge the party. It's most glaring in this AP in that how the party gets to the "netherworld" is scripted and so grating that it is bound to irritate them (release the bad guy, get trapped in the demi plane with no other recourse.) Uusually a good GM can give the PCs at least the appearance of choice; it would take a lot of work in this case.
What also tends to happen is that by using this method, the AP tends to lose momentum and also a lot of the flavor of the narrative and the setting (I believe most of the APs outside of Kingmaker suffer from this to some degree).
3. Serpent Skull could use a lot more of the African/dark continent pulpy flavor. It's there to some degree, but not to the extent i would prefer; for example, a lot more of the juju magic appendix etc. could have been leveraged to give it the sensibility, i think, it was meant to have. I'd also have pulled forward and integrated more of the "serpentfolk" stuff into the earlier APs (magic, influence, presence etc.) The later adventures, again take the PCs to a location far away from the basis of the adventure, and one of the key NPCs has nothing to do with the location at all... To simplify my post, read the awesome Pathfinder Journal story in the AP- THAT ia what i think was missing from the adventures themselves (kudos to Robin Laws).
I am glad that your group is enjoying CoCT. It is ultimately about you and your players having fun, and you understanding what drives your group. The group I GM'd would have had a hard time going off like the AP expects you to- In fact, they were much more likely to stay and form a resistance group, and to usurp power rather than abandoning friends, family, colleagues etc.
A History of Ashes is a pretty good setting and adventure that I have used heavily. The AP is definitely pretty good overall, but for me, part 5 is a definite outlier. It will also take a bit of effort for you to make the "resistance" that acts as the background for part 6 more than what it is, and for the last part to feel like more than just a set of encounters and to make the party feel as if they are coming back into a active resistance. The encounters are way too thin in this regard and could have been a lot more climatic (and can be if you add in the additional encounters and RP opportunities that the last part is lacking.)
Kingmaker- Sandboxy fits my GMing Style a lot better!
Rise of the Rune Lords- Some fantastic gems all the way through; the only AP that doesnt suffer too much from the high level weirdness syndrome.
Legacy of Fire- the first three adventures are some of the best; the last three go off on a railroad into the land of late level weirdness.
Curse of the Crimson Throne- Some good ideas and one of the best one off adventures- Seven Days to the Grave. Suffers from the lets abandon the city and go off to exotic lands syndrome.
Serpents Skull- I feel like this AP should have been a lot more than what it was; the pulpy indiana jonessque feel never jumped off the pages. In fact, the backdrop seems to have been ill used. It needed a lot more of the "african/mystical" elements rather than meandering into the same old buried city syndrome
Council of Thieves- Least memorable in that nothing about this AP stands out.
Second Darkness- seems the most incoherent AP of them all.
You've built up a lot of goodwill Louis. This wasn't your burden and you've taken it on, and it's much appreciated. Can you provide the link to your current project? the one with the fantastic maps? I'd like to sign on as a patron for that project, based on your forthrightness here, as well as your fantastic work with the Great City stuff (i highly recommend it to anyone who is running an urban campaign).
Louis Agresta wrote:
As a courtesy, I emailed Nick that his site is down. I guarantee he was unaware his site wasn't on auto-renew. As far as I know, his site being down and his publishing plans are utterly unconnected. *shrug* If I hear more I'll certainly share.
Louis, i am willing to take the manuscript you turned over to Nick and call it a day, with no expectation of anything else for the money i paid. Is this a possibility?
James Jacobs wrote:
TUN is one of my fav adventures ever and has been worked into my current campaign. Loved the cover art for# 24 too.
The concept of Nagas go back, even predating hinduism, and has been coopted into hinduism and is very prevelant, especially in South India. There are temples dedicated to Nagas, and Nagas/Sarpam worship/ idols are very common in South Indian Temples. Nagas are seen as protective spirits, sometimes guarding children and other innocents from harm, with the ability to transform/ shapechange into women.
Erik Mona wrote:
The first two apps have cleared in-house development and are on the way to Apple for approval!
Awesome. These days i use my ipad exclusively for DMing- pretty much don't need anything else behind the DM screen and these apps should come in handy. If you don't mind me asking, what do these apps do (for example, the pathfinder SRD app now is pretty comprehensive). Any character generators by chance?
Jeff de luna wrote:
This begs for a full on Old Ones City Dream Portal Invasion AP.
If anyone can get their hands on the Mahabharat TV Series from the late 80s (all 96 episodes!!!), it is well worth the watch and probably a great intro to indian mythology. I believe BBC re-aired a subtitled version. The series is really well made, with excellent cast, setting, score etc. for an indian series of that time, and also very comprehensive and compelling.
Jeff's post is spot on. Most Indians do not consider depiction of creatures from the mythos as anything sacreligious outside of the main gods. In fact, there tends to be so many regional variants that at times conflict with one another and people dont "believe" that such creatures are real (other than some local haunts and ghosts).
Consider also that the indian mythos and culture is a meld and overlay of various Cultures and religions. Hinduism itself is not one religion but the melding of variant beliefs from places as far as the Balkans, to the nature worship practised by tribes in the indian peninsula. I urge anyone interested in India or running any such campaign to watch The Story of India documentary series by BBC. You will come up with hundreds of potential campaign threads-both indian and non indian.
For example, one would think that the Indian culture is very patriarcial. This is not true for the part of india that my family comes from. It follows a matriarchial lineiage when all property rights etc. were passed down through the women!s side of the family. Further, in the olden days, all the woman had to do was to leave the slippers of her parmour outside the door; he was no longer welcome and kicked out. Also, the culture was very similar to that of the shogunate with familial clans with their own armies. One of the oldest forms of martial arts, Kalari, is from this part of the world (including the awesome whip sword which skilled warriors wore as belts). There are also many variant myths and legends about various warriors, kings and local gods. When one also considers other local traditions such as the story telling dance form of Kathakalli, the snake boat races and yearly warrior gatherings, the campaign elements can quickly add up. By focusing on this microcosm, I have been able to design and run a pretty fun campaign.
I'm astonished to find myself agreeing, and I have a number of top TOP faves in older APs. What particularly floats my boat is the use of such varied NPC's - the race/class mix is incredibly inventive and has got my DM-muscles twitching
I agree with this sentiment- this is one of my favorite, if not the favorite AP adventure. It will take a skilled GM to run this however (because of the amount of NPCs/ interactions and the open ended nature of the adventure).
I've had to recently do something similar since someone absconded with my mini collection. There are a variety of sources; here are a couple more other than those mentioned:
Mage Knight minis (cheaper, bases are not standard)
I find it interesting that the sucess of PF tends to be very regional (certain areas tend to have concentration of players). I wonder if this has to do with having a certain amount of early adopters that tends to propell a game system (since RPGs are cooperative, 1 DM adopting PF might mean 3-4 players adopting to the system or some such)to achieve critical mass and thus continually self propegating it's sucess. I think one of the reasons why PF is so sucessful in the NYC area is because of the strong PFS society here, primarily propelled by a few people.
I am starting a new Pathfinder Campaign in NYC, and planning on adding a couple of more people to my old group(took a hiatus from gaming being a new dad). We'll probably be playing on Saturdays, probably every 2 to 3 weeks or so. Looking for mature, easy going people, who are looking to have fun. Here is a bit of color about the campaign.
Raiders of the Savage Coast
I've been to better places in this world, safer places. I’ve been to places with prettier people, more civilized people, to cities that astound you. But you know? I’ve never been to a place that is so harsh and unforgiving; wastelands filled with colossal peaks; primordial forests that have presence; treacherous seas of quicksand; the damp and fog draped moors where the quiet itself seems alive.
Yet there is history here, and opportunity too, for the land is dotted with strange, mystical sites and great monuments from empires before the Age of Darkness. Few alive today can guess at what untold treasures lie fallow. What ancient ruins lie devoured by the deep forest? What lies buried in the fetid swamps? What created the vast stretch of barren lands dotted with hundreds of thousands of broken statues?
Beyond this, the land itself is a treasure, the gigantic Darkwood beckoning those of an opportunistic ilk, not to mention the unique flora and fauna, both dangerous and profitable; where the worst predators and foulest threats are the human tribes, savages, who live there—and those who, in many cases, pass themselves off as humans .This vastness and the sense of isolation have earned the region its name; this is the Savage Coast.”
- Dario Argent, Explorer and Archivist, addressing the Mercantile League, before his last Departure to Sentinel, first settlement on the Savage Coast
“Land, Gold, and Title!” Those are the things promised for taming the wilderness of the Savage Coast by the Mercantile League, for being the earliest settlers of the Savage Coast. For many it is an opportunity to escape; be it from the oppressive debt that once owed becomes a shackle for life and beyond for generations and leads to enslavement, the constant games of power and intrigue of the Great City where even the lowliest commoner gets caught up in the schemes of the wealthy and the mercantile, from religious persecution, or for darker reasons.
You are one of these, one desperate enough to take a gamble, to set off on the long oceanic voyage, to become a pioneer, to be a Raider of the Savage Coast.
Be aware that the campaign heavily features lots of exploration, ancient ruins, political intrigue, man-devouring wilderness, and most importantly, the chance to leave your mark and plot your destiny; be it being dragon chow, cannibal food, or a cannibal. There might be an outside chance of being wealthy, famous, and who knows, maybe a head honcho.
If interested, post here or email me to ppanavalli AT Gmail dot com. Thank you for your time, and good gaming.
Smagnavast the Black wrote:
Damn Pseudodragons and their inflated egos. :P
Can we talk about PC killing monsters and why JJ should be locked up please? There are several threads debating what you all are all over the intrawebs, for the past SEVERAL years. Feel free to reboot those as you wish.
Oh, and feel free to create ANOTHER thread about why designers should read ALL the D20 books and what not, because I sense that to be the next spam worthy topic about to be spawned.
ehh, so if none of what you've mentioned James is the "final monster"( we all know who she is), what do her stats look like?
I predict Kingmaker will be one of the best selling APs produced, almost at the same level as Rise of the Runelords. I find the internal story lines (the Kobolds and Mites, the Temple, and the Bandits) all to be awesome; they all can and will have a long term impact on the campaign as well (Kobold allies, the Helm, one of the Bandits becomiing an NPC, the beginings of a church...). It's just awesome.
Lamashan Dalastonor wrote:
Err...must not..noo...ahhh...on no my Pancreas!!
James Jacobs wrote:
I weirded out James Jacobs; awesome!
What makes you think that if a fight does break out:
1. The players' use smart tactics to defeat the dragon
2. The two sides decide to parlay
3. The players retreat when things are going badly
4. some other option that they might choose (call a friend etc.)
There appears to be very little trust in "players choice" from what I can tell.
Well, it's like any relationship, just because you got burned doesn't mean that trust is not necessary for a healthy gaming "relationship." I think communication and an understanding of what everyone is at the table for is vastly more important than any rule set is.
If you can't trust the GM/Players and the relationship is either adversarial or not cogent, it does not make any difference what the rules set is, the game won't work in the long run. You just need to find the GM you can trust/trusts you, and work towards building that.
I think the issue here is not the rules or "GM Fiat," but trust. Do you trust your GM to make the right calls? And do you, as players, in turn, help the GM by communicating as needed and maintaining that trust? The ultimate goal is fun for everyone, and does everyone work towards that? It appears, based on the posts here, that not everyone has that trust or the understanding of the implicit player/gm agreement.
Neither side has to end up completely dead. An ancient wyrm has lived a long life, probably because it knows a thing or two about survival.
What I am trying to point out is that one should play encounters as they are and not try to force any outcome; if an NPC is a snivilling grovelling coward, then that's how you play it. If it is an ancient black dragon then it should be played as such and the same goes for the PCs- they should be given the chance to decide as they would; not as the DM would.
If the two advesaries end up parlaying and end up having tea and crumpets because that was the natural outcome of whatever the decisions and actions were, then that's how it should be; if decisions have their natural consequences, one would be surprised at how cinematic the outcomes can be.
Wasn't there a "save the dragons" group or some such somewhere? I am unclear as to why "punches need to be pulled" etc. if it's about the PC's surviving every encounter, might as well just not bother with "stats" and such and just let things fall dead whenever you feel is the appropriate time.
Decisions have consequences; fighting, not running away from, an ancient dragon has consequences. If the players think they are in over their head, let them decide to run; if they decide to fight, then let them do so; if they think they can parlay to save their skins, then let them try that; if they come up with some other clever idea then let them do so.
I keep getting the feeling that you don't trust your players' decision making, and that's a whole different issue all together. If they are chomping at the bits for this fight, then why cheat them out of it?
Why do you need a solution? It is an ancient black dragon. As adventurers, the party can CHOOSE to run or fight. It's their choice; you can forewarn them...legends about this particular dragon decimating cities etc. If they choose to fight, let loose and have fun; play the dragon to the full of it's abilities. If the party manages to win, be it by being creative (perhaps there is terrain that they can use to trap the dragon etc.)or through luck, they will appreciate the victory a lot more. If they loose, it happens; many adventurers have been eaten by dragons.
Dragons have feeling too...:P
There appears to be people trying to prove the other guy "wrong," and still venting on their edition wars issues wherever they can; Let it go. Find Buddha or a bottle of Jack or something.
If someone wants is considering dual statting something then whatever their reasons, even if contradictory to what they have stated before, is moot. Opinion changes, information changes. Trying to foist one's own preceptions by interpretting what someone else has said is petty at best.
I've settled on an Ork Beastmaster. I'll start working on the character background. As for my familiarity with Earthdawn, I have all the early books (1st edition) and recently picked up the PDF for 3E. If someone can give me a brief run down of key changes between editions it would be helpful.
I played in a rocking campaign back in the day. Unfortunately, the 1st Edition rules completely fall apart at higher levels. Hopefully this is no longer an issue.
Thank you for the opportunity; I look forward to gaming with you all.