Orphans of the Hanged Man (PFRPG) PDF

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Urchins Underfoot

It takes a special kind of thief to escape the noose, and the legend of the Hanged Man and how he cheated death has been the stuff of barroom boasts for years. Whether he finally died and returned as a ghost, or set sail for a tropical island with his ill-gotten gains, someone has been using his noose as a calling card across the city. At the same time, the street gangs of the slums have risen up to in a wave of theft and violence that have the city on edge. When their predations strike a bit too close to home for your heroes, you must seek out the hidden masters of the city's seedy underbelly to put a lid on this urban uprising before things get out of control!

Orphans of the Hanged Man is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for 1st-level characters. It can be easily expanded for a small or standard group of PCs, but it also is ideally suited for use as a one-on-one adventure with a single PC and GM. It can be run as a standalone adventure or side-trek, as a complement for the first adventure in the official “Red Queen Adventure Path,” or as the first adventure in full-scale one-on-one adventure saga! Bring home this 40-page urban adventure by Michael Allen and Matt Goodall to bring a touch of whimsy to your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Make Your Game Legendary!

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This adventure clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 1.5 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30.5 pages of content, though it should be noted that, as always for Legendary Games, the layout manages to fit quite a lot of content on these pages.

Now, before we start: This is a level 1 adventure and assumes the medium advancement track. There is one more thing that sets this apart: This module is intended to be run for a single PC. Yes, this adventure is actually designed to be a viable one-on-one module for one GM and a player; as an aside, it is very much possible to tackle this adventure as a group. Particularly for groups new to PFRPG, this may well make sense, as the adventure is rather fair. It does decrease the challenge, obviously, but it can provide an appropriate segue into the Curse of the Crimson Throne AP without becoming as deadly as the APs first two modules are. So yeah, this does a good job as an AP plug-in.

At the same time, it should be noted that this adventure is not necessarily tied to Korvosa – it is very easy to convert the adventure to another metropolis. Provided there is crime, a bit of squalor and street urchins, as in most cities, this will require no further work to adapt.

It should be noted that the module contains a specialized light-source for thieves as a mundane piece of equipment; there also are a few low-cost magic items and a new poison included. The magic items, while helpful, will not break the AP, if you choose to run it. Now, one-on-one adventures tend to be punishing on spellcasters in particular, though this one is very much manageable for spellcasters. It is probably easier for skill monkeys and martial characters, but a smartly-played spellcaster can very much succeed here. Considering their fragility at first level, this is pretty impressive. The DCs of skill uses etc. are very conservative and low, providing decent chances for success, even if the PC does not have the skill.

All right, this is as far as I can go without going into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

The module begins with the PC living in a rather poor hovel – and to make matters worse, the coughing old crone next door complains about your “friends” visiting – well, it turns out that the PC’s place has been trashed, a makeshift trap balanced on top of the entry door. This trap will not kill the PC, but it will provide a first idea to remain careful. A small noose hangs from the ceiling…the calling card of the legendary thief known as “The Hanged Man.”

The old crone, when questioned, can help cleaning the place “Don’t tell people I have magic, dearie.” – and also assist in minor magic identification for doing her chores. From here on, we have a free-form investigation, with 4 results per general topic provided and thus, degrees of success and information applied. The DCs are low enough to allow for easy and painless use of this section. Even total failure in every regard will not prevent the PC from finishing the adventure.

The “Orphans of the Hanged Man” ride the coattails of the fame of the fabled thief, trying to establish his calling card as theirs – the aforementioned noose. The PC can happen upon three of their thugs trying to coerce the street urchin Collin into their gang. The thugs will recognize the PC if undisguised, and will not attempt to kill the character – though a sound beating may occur. Here, their tactics should be commended: They make sense, but allow the PC a fighting chance: They tumble and attempt to demoralize in the first round, and their use of grappling and nonlethal attacks prevents undue frustration due to bad rolls here.

The investigation that follows this encounter, with Collin as a new ally, is actually heart-warming and a tone I personally always fail to evoke when I try: It manages to depict kindness and hope in even the dire and poor straits that exist in the slums. From the melancholy watchman to a girl in love, these happenstances provide glimpses into a simple, yet endearing life: The slums may be a place of poverty, but it’s also a place of life, in all of its facets. The girl I mentioned? She is planning a rendez-vous with her fling and may provide an angle – as PC and Collin seek to get a steak for the PC’s bruised eye, they may hit jackpot thanks to the girl and an overheard conversation – and thus, the PC will find a wizened, venerable old man…the Hanged Man, who is not amused by the Oprhans slandering his name. Duly amused by the PC finding him, he grants the PC a magical ring that can help particularly roguish PCs. He also provides some cryptic clues and challenges the PCs that he, back in the day, has left a test of sorts – the rest of his goods will need to be earned. Once more, this contextualizes the man as a scoundrel, but as one with a good heart. If the PC asks, he’ll even tell the character how he avoided being hanged.

Anyways, the trail to the Hanged Man’s erstwhile base leads to the sewers below the “Crimson Shears”, a tailor’s shop. The sewer intersection is duly mapped in gorgeous full color, and yes, we do get player-friendly maps! Huge plus there! It is here that the PC can help a grindylow fight off some dire rats…and saving the grindylow’s buddy will net further benefits. Once more, a theme of nobility is conveyed and rewarded. This taps into a unique idea: In order to find the entrance, the PCs have to find a faux-aged boat, draw a pin, and have the boat flip over: With a bubble of air, the boat can be capsized in a controlled manner, providing access to the entrance! There are means to discern this, but helping the grindylow also provides a pantomime that cues in the PC.

Once more, this is a pretty simple set-up that does not require magic, but at the same time, it is clever enough to warrant not having been found yet. If the PC would drown, a parasitic fey can act as a last-ditch save, providing consequences for failure without resulting in a “game over.” The PC finds the first part of the Hanged Man’s magical snapleaf key here. The tunnels terminate in a run-down tannery, and from here, the next locale is an abandoned warheouse oozing atmosphere and sporting some minor hazards as well as a giant flea…and there is a thankfully slow, legless skeleton prowling these grounds…and here, the PC can find a lucky penny as well as a clue to the Hanged Man’s abandoned base of operations – the sewer refuge the PC may have already explored…so yeah, there is more than one sequence in which these may be tackled.

Beneath the warehouse, a three-level dungeon can be found. The dungeon, once more, is fully mapped, even including a side-view that highlights vertical connections, and yes, we once more actually get player-friendly maps here! Huge kudos! The complex has, in the mean time, been taken over by gremlins and an akaname, which serve as appropriately low-level threats. Did I mention the mold hazard that erases 30 minutes of time before being knocked unconscious by it? From training dummies to broken-down machinery, this also acts as a cool homebase/mini-defense scenario. Elganion, the adolescent and rather bitter elf that leads the Orphans, will sooner or later track down the PC with his crew – and smart PCs may use this cleared complex and allies like Collin to defeat the orphans! While this is intended to be the climax of the module, and as such, is pretty freeform, it’s just as possible to have the Orphans find the Hanged man’s complex after the PC has explored the majority of it…

Anyways, within this complex, the second half of the snapleaf key (artwork included, just fyi!) awaits, and with it, the PC can open the secret room in the “mausoleum” of the Hanged Man – if she does, she’ll only have to defeat the consequence of the one premeditated murder the Hanged Man committed: The Beheaded that once was the informant that led to the Hanged Man…hanging.

It should also be noted that the PC should not and need not kill any of the Orphans - not even Elganion! Aforementioned memory-loss inducing mold, combat challenge severity etc. does allow for the PC to solve the conflict with the orphans in nonlethal ways, and is preferable: This way, the PC may end up with a small network of informants, as the new and proper heir to the Hanged Man’s title!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to the elegant two-column full-color standard of the Curse of the Crimson Throne-plug-ins. The pdf sports quite a few impressive full-color artworks and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The map-support deserves special mention: All relevant locales are mapped in GORGEOUS full-color, and come with player-friendly maps that have secret doors etc. redacted. Huge plus right there!

Michael Allen and Matt Goodall have penned a tale that is almost Dickensian in its themes and atmosphere: There is a wholesome joy in this adventure and the interactions with the NPCs that is hard to describe. The emphasis on roleplaying and problem-solution over just rolling the bones is a big plus, and the module rewards esoteric skills here and there, while at the same time allowing the PC to finish the module successfully without requiring them. From the neat NPCs to the locations, this represents an incredibly rewarding adventure that makes for an actually good one-on-one module, even if you’re going for a spellcaster. That is hard to pull off.

Furthermore, the adventure, in spite of being not explicitly designated as such, is in my opinion a family-friendly experience – kids at around 8 years should have no issues with this, while adults will similarly enjoy this. As always regarding age-recommendations: Parents know best how sensitive their kids are, and kids greatly diverge in what they consider to be cool/what they can handle.

The emphasis on non-lethal problem-solution, the small tidbits of creepiness that are very much manageable…this is an adventure I’d run for my offspring, should I ever have kids, to introduce them to PFRPG. It’s not explicitly designed to work as such, but it does work this way if you choose to run it as such.

It feels a bit like a story-arc in Oliver Twist or David Copperfield to me – it doesn’t coddle and treats the audience with respect, it does not paint the world in black and white, and is better off for it. The theme of a gang of bullies is something that most folks will be able to relate to. It is difficult, without being unfair or generating frustration. It’s not necessarily a good choice for the first module to GM (Trail of the Apprentice does that better), but to play? Yeah, this would get me more invested-

In short, this is an excellent adventure I can wholeheartedly recommend – and not only for the context of Curse of the Crimson Throne! Highly recommended! My final verdict is 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


Flavourful and memorable 1st-level adventure for 1-on-1 game play!

5/5

Alright, first off, I was not given a free copy of this product nor requested to write a review. I purchased this product when it first came out, and I assure you, I am more than amply satisfied with my purchase.

How good is it? Let me put it this way: I have already run it as a solo adventure for myself and I am in the midst of running it again for a player - our characters could not be any more different from each other and yet the adventure itself does not care - with absolutely minimal alterations, you can practically run this adventure for any character of ANY CLASS. This is an adventure that rewards creativity, with a solid mix of role-playing and combat scenarios.

But that is not what you really want to hear, is it? You want to know the meat and potatoes of this product. So here is the page count overview: it has exactly 28 pages of adventure content, 3 pages of player-friendly maps, and the rest of this 40-pages long book are the covers, table of contents, and obligatory OGL mentions (you know what I mean).

My rating system for an adventure breaks down like this: 1 star for the artwork, 1 star for editing and rules accuracy, 1 star for the adventure content, 1 star for the cartography (this is important to me as a DM) and 1 star for what I call "replay value" - basically, as a GM, how much use out of this product am I going to get for my money.

So, let's start with the art. While I am not going to say that the art made me drool, the few illustrations (besides the maps) in here are wonderful (all in wonderful colour!) AND the Legendary Games team made the right choices in which illustrations to showcase here. As an example, there is the Legless Skeleton, which looks really cool, and you can ramp up the horror factor here if you want - you never knew how scary a lone skeleton can be until you realise you are all alone with it!

The editing and rules accuracy in here are top-notch. I didn't see any errors and the pdf comes with hyperlinks for anything listed that is not a new rule or game mechanic (so any monster is hyperlinked to their respective stat block online - just hover over their name and away you go). The pdf is fully bookmarked (thank you!) and I like the background style - the font doesn't disappear in it so reading the pdf is not going to put a strain on your eyes after a while. Like pretty much all of Legendary Games' products, they utilize a two-columns layout to give you the goods.

Now, what about the adventure itself? The product description tells you what it is all about, but let me give you my rundown: as a player, you control a single PC who lives in the slums (well, you are 1st level after all). At some point the night prior, a local gang took it upon themselves to remind you (by thrashing your little shack) that they don't take kindly to independents operating in their territory. Turns out that this new gang are calling themselves the Orphans of the Hanged Man, brazenly stealing the gimmick of a famous gentleman thief (who was known for an incredible escape from a hangman's noose) as their own calling card and symbol.

So, you want to dish out some payback in return (sure, your shack was crap to begin with, but you got to educate these punks about respect, old school style). You may want to learn more about this gang (the bulk of their membership are orphans) before you do anything about them (remember, they may be orphans but you are just 1 person and they can pummel you senseless with their little fists of fury or with whatever scrap they find on the ground, like a dirty coat hanger - think about that for a few moments).

As you gather information and/or talk to people, you learn more about this mysterious gentleman thief (who reasonably should be either dead with old age if he managed to survive all those years since his disappearance from the public eye or living the retired life on an tropical island somewhere). This led to my favourite scene that does not involve the pc directly - the interaction between the housemaid and the butcher's assistance. Ah, sweet romance in medieval times. And no, it was completely PG - get your mind out of the gutter.

As the adventure progresses, you learn enough clues that you think may lead you to one of the hideouts established by the gentleman thief - if you can find it, you might find enough loot to get out of town (or retire, if you are really lucky!) or maybe you find something to tip the balance in your favour enough that you can take on the Orphans of the Hanged Man to send those little brats running for the hills!

The adventure has a lot of non-magical traps and a few complex challenges, but the adventure also provides you with the means (sprinkled throughout the adventure) to make many of those obstacles much easier to overcome while the rest of the challenges can be defeated with either brute force or smart thinking. The adventure also gives you the opportunity to gain the help of some npcs (in and out of combat).

To make it all more fun, there are multiple sites of exploration (you have to check them all out in order to get to the final area, but you don't have to follow any particular order of exploration) so player agency is given a lot of room to manoeuvre here - hardly a railroad in sight.

Now, about the cartography? They got player-friendly maps at the end of the pdf. Yes! Thank you very much! That's not all - they are beautifully done (they included furnishings!) and the grids do line up! Although those are no gridless versions of these maps, the grids are thin and blend in rather nicely with the rest of the map. I just want to give a digital hug to the cartographer responsible for these maps as a gesture of appreciation.

Finally, the replay value. Damn right this adventure has replay value. I could run this adventure numerous times for a different player with a different character each time. On top of that, I can crib several of the traps and even whole sections to use in other adventures. Seriously.

My favourite moments as a DM in running this is the one-two trap combo of the memory mold and the alpluachra (Bestiary 4), - this one was just so well done that I had to give it the slow clapping applause.

My favourite moments as a player was cackling madly as my pc crushed the Orphans of the Hanged Man with only a blow gun and some elbow grease; I also was amazed that a single young npc expert ally was performing leagues above my pc in combat with a string of high rolls despite being only CR 1/4 and wielding a piece of wood as an improvised club. Yes, you heard me right, a piece of wood. That kid got major league talent.

All in all, I felt that the team behind this product really delivered a superb starting adventure that can be used in conjunction with the Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure path (with minimal adjustments for a party of four pcs) OR as an 1-on-1 adventure path that promises to be full of intrigue. Because this product meets (even exceeds in some areas) my expectations, I give it a full 5 stars. I know I am already looking forward to running the sequel, The Smuggler's Seal.

Cheers!

CB


Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Whether you're running this as part of the "Red Queen" AP as a side-trek or playing a little one-on-one as the kickoff of the One Player Guildmaster Adventure Path, you're gonna love this fantastic new adventure by Matt Goodall and Michael Allen!


Which xp progression chart is intended for use with this series? Assuming a point-buy for character creation, what is the default assumed for 1-on-1 play? Finally, are the maps vtt friendly - meaning, can I extract maps without tags or secret rooms showing?

Resisting the impulse to buy this so far since I haven't been a player in over a decade (none of my players want to be GM) and this seems like something I could bludgeon one of them over the head with on how little work they would have to do to run it. I need to know more before slapping down the dinhero, moolah, greenbacks, pesos (you get the picture), for this product.

CB

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

The adventure includes both keyed maps in the running text of the adventure, plus unkeyed maps in the back of the book.

As for the xp progression, I'd have to have Matt or Michael comment on that, but from my recollection you'd expect to get a single character from 1st level to the midpoint of 2nd level by the end of the adventure.


That's good to know about the maps. I run my games online on Roll20 so it helps that I don't have to draw maps by hand (because quite frankly my artwork is atrocious).

CB

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010

Yep, the adventure takes the PC from the start of 1st level up to half/three quarters of the way through 2nd level. Our plan is to have the second adventure advance the PC to the start of 4th level by the end of the adventure.


OK, thanks!

CB

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Big props to Liz Courts for this one, the maps and layout are reeeeally nice. These weren't the easiest maps to do but she nailed it. I'm also super happy with the art, beautiful stuff.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Matt Goodall wrote:
Big props to Liz Courts for this one, the maps and layout are reeeeally nice. These weren't the easiest maps to do but she nailed it. I'm also super happy with the art, beautiful stuff.

Yeah, it really came together very nicely visually as well as with the text of the adventure.


Picked this up over the weekend (*sigh* this GM sale at Drive-thru RPG is killing me!), so I started reading it today. I checked out the pregenerated pc and I can't figure out where the special quality Tenacity +1 is from. Is she actually a Legendary Rogue?

She also has 3 feats at first level. How? She should get 1 for being human and 1 for 1st level. What else is giving her a 3rd feat? The only thing I can think of is the Legendary Rogue with the inherent talent at 1st level to gain Weapon Finesse.

CB

Contributor

Matt Goodall wrote:
Big props to Liz Courts for this one, the maps and layout are reeeeally nice. These weren't the easiest maps to do but she nailed it. I'm also super happy with the art, beautiful stuff.

Thank you Matt! The maps were a lot of fun to do. ^_^

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010

Well spotted Canadian Bakka. Jenna the pregen is indeed a Legendary Rogue with Weapon Finesse from the Legendary Rogue's inherent talent class ability.

At this level the only difference between a Legendary Rogue and an unchained rogue is the tenacity ability, which is +1 Fort and +1 Will (which you could replicate with 2 traits). 'Orphans' isn't a easy adventure by any means and I figured the pregen needed every edge we could give her.

If people have feedback as to which version of rogue we should use for the pregen for the next adventures in the AP (or if we need to include a pregen), it would be appreciated.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

To be honest, I like the Legendary Rogue. It allows for a more versatile skill-based pc that does not have to rely on archetypes to diversify in order to meet a theme or style of play. The Legendary Rogue is worth playing all the way to 20th level so my vote for the pre-gen is keep her Legendary! :)

CB

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010

If it is the case that we go Legendary Rogue, we'll make sure to include full descriptions of her abilities so the pregen can be played without the player needing to reference another book.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have been slowly running this module since yesterday for myself (using the pregenerated pc with some minor adjustments, including a drawback) and let me tell you:

Spoiler:
if she manages to survive this module, she is going to make Collins her cohort as soon as possible. That kid had the most incredible rolls and saved against every trap and disease so far. I'm immensely glad he made his save against the memory mold because she was knocked unconscious because of it. And he helped her overcome the disease from the giant flea.

Ironically enough the grindylow didn't need help. In the first round, through sheer luck, he critted one dire rat and killed a second one with high damage rolls. Jenna is a bit irked by that but hey, we did well as a distraction, thank you very much.

It has been mind-boggling so far. I think the kid deserves a 35% share of the loot they gotten so far.

Oh, and I have been trying to see if Jenna can survive with a masked persona.

Looking forward to seeing how this ends.

CB


Out of curiosity, how deep are the waters in the sewer refuge? I am just having a bit of a disconnect with the boat (namely, why/how it works).

By the way, the hidden creature placed in that area was a stroke of genius. I did not even know that creature existed in PF. Well-played, sirs. Well-played.

CB

Edit: fixed spelling errors.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

CB - The wider sewer channel is deeper beyond the gate as the drainage system nears the harbor exits. Probably 10-12 feet or so. Hope that helps you visualize it a bit more - cheers.


Interesting. In regards to the boat:

Spoilers:
I am not familiar with capsized rowboat being used underwater so I do not see why the rowboat does not simply fill with water. The canvas cover helps but then once the rowboat sinks to the bottom (I am assuming that it's mechanical system in place that forces it down) and flushes with the floor and trapdoor, the canvas cover is in the way so you have to cut through the canvas (unless the canvas can be safely removed from inside - I thought it can only be tied to the rim of the rowboat).

Also, cutting through the trapdoor is an option but unless the PC has a pick or similar tool meant to be used for breaking objects, it is unlikely they will be able to effectively damage it to matter.

My last question (for now) is how fast does the access tunnel flood? I could not find anything in PF for flooding tunnels.

Sorry that I have all these questions. I really do like the adventure, I'm not just not that savvy yet as a GM.

CB


CB - I sent you a PM with some more explanation. My Bluff skill is lacking when passing secret messages (I screw up formatting and spoiler tabs occasionally).

You sound pretty savvy to me - questions are never a problem.

Michael


Thanks to Michael here for the pm, it was quite informative and did help me. :)

I will post a review once I am done running this adventure module. So far it has been one game session and I would say that I am about 40% of the way through and I expect to reach completion with the next game session or two. :)

CB

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Canadian Bakka wrote:

Thanks to Michael here for the pm, it was quite informative and did help me. :)

I will post a review once I am done running this adventure module. So far it has been one game session and I would say that I am about 40% of the way through and I expect to reach completion with the next game session or two. :)

CB

Yay - looking forward to seeing it!


Quick question: is the action to activate the ring of looming shadows a standard action (as most command word activated magic items usually are) or was it meant to be a different type of action? If it is a standard action, the wearer really cannot take advantage of it in the first round (since he will not be able to take an attack action, except for attacks of opportunity but those are going to be far and few in between).

CB


Canadian Bakka wrote:

Quick question: is the action to activate the ring of looming shadows a standard action (as most command word activated magic items usually are) or was it meant to be a different type of action? If it is a standard action, the wearer really cannot take advantage of it in the first round (since he will not be able to take an attack action, except for attacks of opportunity but those are going to be far and few in between).

CB

It is a standard action to activate it. The effect activates when the melee attack goes off: the duration is counted from that point.


Ah, I misread it. I thought the duration started when you activated it as a standard action. That is what I get for casually looking over it. *facepalm*

I suppose it is not unbalancing to activate it well in advance (for example, prior to entering the sewers) so that you don't waste an action in combat if you are going to explore alone. Cool stuff! :)

The lucky penny is nifty as well. *sigh* Jenna had to bring along Colleen as a plucky sidekick (that kid has incredible luck with the rolls during the game sessions I have been running). The main heroine, however, has set off almost every trap so far because she keeps failing her Disable Device checks by 5+! Silly rogue. >_<

CB


I totally forgot to do a review of this product (which I love and will be running for a friend this weekend). (He's playing a Lizardfolk [from Kobold Press's Advanced Races Compendium] polearm master.)

However, I was wondering if a printer-friendly version of this product could be made available (I picked it up over at DriveThruRpg at the time)?

I promise to write up the review this weekend! ;)

CB


I have to say that the "Red Queen Adventure Path" and this item's title of "Orphans of the Hanged Man" are very evocative. Well done!

*rummages around looking for the RQAP*


Posted a review (even though I really can't see it). Hopefully others can see it.

Cheers!

CB

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010

Thank you CB for your great review. It's always appreciated to know people are enjoying something you've worked on.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

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