Is the Test of the Smoking Eye essential to the story?


Shackled City Adventure Path


I'm considering axing the Test of the Smoking Eye adventure from the campaign and replacing it with an adventure more specific to my players in order to thread their backgrounds more into the story. The side adventure will probably be a jungle ruin with gnolls and demons (including Nabthatoron if he teleported away after killing Tercival).

One player's character is from a noble family whose fortunes have been harmed by repeated raids by unknown forces (the gnolls) and another is a ranger whose backstory involves gnolls as favored enemies. The players can find clues to lead them to that side adventure after Tercival's death, instead of immediately returning to Cauldron, where Vhalantru will push to have them assassinated by Ike Iverson's agents upon their return.

Any thoughts on what I may need to change with respect to the rest of the story line in order to do this? Do you think the story would suffer if the events in Test of the Smoking Eye are cut out of the story? Clearly I would need to change the requirements for freeing/defeating Adimarchus in the final adventure, but that doesn't seem too hard.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Actually, "Test of the Smoking Eye" is quite essential to the Shackled City story. Not only is this the adventure in which the PCs are most likely to first learn about the Cagewrights (from Kaurophon), and is one of the only places the PCs can learn about Adimarchus' history; it's also the first time they learn about the existance of the demon lord of madness (although they probably don't/won't realize how important he is to the story).

The Smoking Eye template is also an important part of the story; if you remove it, you'll need to change the requriements for defeating Adimarchus (as you note), but there's also a few other times where characters who possess the smoking eye template gain benefits. The three that come to mind are conversations with Byakala in "Asylum," the shrinie of Adimarchus in the Fiery Sanctum in "Thirteen Cages," and it also makes the character immune to blasphemy spells (and other effects that ignore evil creatures) which should come in handy when fighting some of the tougher monsters like the crater lake monster in "Foundations of Flame."

As long as you take these factors into account when devising a replacement adventure, things should run pretty well in the end.


Thanks for the quick response. Though I was aware of some of the points you made, but I had not noticed some of the other issues. I'll have to think about it some more. Maybe instead of cutting out the Test adventure I'll shorten the "gnoll/Nabthatoron" sidetreck adventure and try to stick it at some point when the players are behind in experience.

On the other hand, what I was contemplating is trying to cut Adimarchus out of the plot altogether, and have the whole story be the Cagewrights and their plot to open the portal to Carceri, and have the adventure path end after this plot is foiled. That is one reason I was thinking of cutting out the Test of the Smoking Eye, since it seems unneccessary if I cut out Adimarchus.


I've dropped Adimarchus from my campaign as well. The Cagewrights are doing something specific to my campaign so Test of the Smoking Eye and all of Adimarchus aren't needed for me. Sounds like you're headed the same direction.


I plan on dropping the Test of the Smoking Eye as well. I don't like extra-planar adventures. I haven't decided yet on what to do in its stead. My players just started Zenith Trajectory and are having a fun time--they're not too overly concerned with any plots behind the scenes as long as they have a steady string of XP and bad guys to kill.


Any of ya'll want to give some insight on how this went for you? I have 2 players who have played the test of the smoking eye before (but strangely, nothing else from scap) and I'm wondering what I can do as an alternative (I can't imagine the "make your choice" bit at the end would have the same gravity twice).

Thanks


As an alternative, I always thought the frost giant settlement would be a neat side adventure. I'm not sure how you would stick in the plot, but frost giants are CR 9 and that would be about right for the party during the Smoking Eye. If you didn't want to do something from scratch, you could use the frost giant adventure from the Giant series. Or at least the maps, which are posted on WOTC's website.

For my part, the Test of the Smoking Eye is the adventure I was most eager to DM. It is very different sort of adventure for my gaming group. I certainly see reasons for not doing it, but I'm look forward to running it in the next few sessions.

Liberty's Edge

Dedekind wrote:

As an alternative, I always thought the frost giant settlement would be a neat side adventure. I'm not sure how you would stick in the plot, but frost giants are CR 9 and that would be about right for the party during the Smoking Eye. If you didn't want to do something from scratch, you could use the frost giant adventure from the Giant series. Or at least the maps, which are posted on WOTC's website.

For my part, the Test of the Smoking Eye is the adventure I was most eager to DM. It is very different sort of adventure for my gaming group. I certainly see reasons for not doing it, but I'm look forward to running it in the next few sessions.

There was a dungeon adventure (sorry cant remember the issue) from a few years ago, I'm thinking it was even before the 3.5 switch in edition; whose title had something to do with "losing your head" or "Beheaded" it was an attack on a frost giant keep and Orcus was the villain behind the plot.

That may fit in nicely for this - especially with it being a demon prince behind the cutrain. I remember being a player in a game that ran that - it was one of my favorite DUNGEON adventures that I experiennced - and I remember it was foul and twisted.

Robert


Headless.

Yep, it was pre 3.5, I think about 2001 or so (but can't remember the issue number). I think James Jacobs may have written the adventure?


I ended up runnig Test of the Smoking Eye after all, with some minor alterations. I ended up using the ideas on this board for tying Adimarchus more closely into the main plot, so this worked out pretty well.

Liberty's Edge

Anarath Coldblood wrote:

Headless.

Yep, it was pre 3.5, I think about 2001 or so (but can't remember the issue number). I think James Jacobs may have written the adventure?

So since you know what i'm talking about would you agree that it might be an appropriate module for this scenario?

Robert


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would say the adventure Headless is perfect to be fit into the AP. I've done it. I have actually included about 15 other adventures (most of them Dungeon adventures)in my campaign. Some of the adventures include some of the Cagewrights (or the thirteen as I call them) and are thus used to draw the PCs further into a plot they still haven't figured out completely. The ultimate goal of the thirteen is to summon Adimarchus' prison to Cauldron and set him free (I'm actually leaving out the last two adventures of the AP) and if the PCs play their cards right, they might be able to save Adimarchus from madness.

Here's how I included Headless:

After the PCs shift back from Occipitus, they end up in the mountains and encounter one of the PCs' dad (the leader of the mountain barbarians) in deadly combat with a headhunter. The PCs help him and he informs them that someone has been killing all animal and humanoid life in the area to steal their heads. They head up to the frost giant keep where they encounter two Cagewrights (the death slaad and the caster). I altered many of the opponents to slaadi and made the death slaad the actual leader. I also changed the wizard to an elven sorcerer.

The sorcerer got away (teleport) and the PCs ended up fleeing from the slaad with a word of recall. When they got back the next day, they found the place destroyed and deserted. The deadgate from the adventure was actually a sort of evil-energy charger for the heads. The PCs find some of the heads missing, and the hundreds of heads that are still lying around radiate evil. Actually, the slaad took the most powerful heads with him to be used as an energy charger for the soulcages.

Anyway, this is just my way of saying that with a little creativity, you can easily add other adventures to the campaign.

Liberty's Edge

MrVergee wrote:


Anyway, this is just my way of saying that with a little creativity, you can easily add other adventures to the campaign.

I agree; thanks for sharing.

If you dont mind give a few other dungeon adventures that you used in conjunction with SCAP; I've got every issue since 98; so I have a lot to choose from. :-)

Robert


zoroaster100 wrote:
I ended up runnig Test of the Smoking Eye after all, with some minor alterations. I ended up using the ideas on this board for tying Adimarchus more closely into the main plot, so this worked out pretty well.

I am glad to here you ran TotSE. It is a great extra-planar adventure, and my players had a blast with it. Like you I am not to big a fan on extra-planar adventures, but I took this as a challange to expand my DMing repitore. In an earlier thread I spoke about how the plane is set up to simulate a disease body (terrain is spongy like skin, boils, blood plasma skys, bone and hair like forest)I really played this up and it gave my players the heebie jeebies. We had a lot of fun. I gave it a John Ford western feel with fiendish centaur indians, stampeeding buffalo, etc. In retrospect the only thing I would have done different was some forshadowing of the Rakshasa.

As mentioned earlier in this thread the Smoking Eye Template really is a valuable asset to the party, in particularly when encountering Maralith demon in Asylum, giving the encounter a possible diplomatic outcome, thus saving on party rescources before arriving at Skullrot, and the not affected by good or evil spells is invaluable, but as the dm, remember that is a double edge sword. Benificial "good" spells cast by clerics or paladins won't aid them either.

Anyways, congratulations on trying something new!

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