Skipping Drathkar's Way

Shackled City Adventure Path

I am thinking about skipping altogether Drathkar's Way because 1) I want to speed up the campain 2) We've just finished the Malachite Fortress and I think the two stories are too similar.

Actually I find Drathkar's Way rather weak because 1) yet another secret passage under a house which is far too reminicent of Life's Bazaar 2) The ever helpful Last Laugh guild points the PC in the right direction

Should I and if so what kind of crucial piece of info must I convey to my PCs? I don't think there is anysignificant plot points in Drathkar's Way

It's skippable. The plot info the players learn is that the half-orc mercenaries are being snuck into town. One small encounter in town, perhaps they are close to a gate when a wagon with hidden mercenaries is discovered, takes care of it.

Or just introduce Zyran Kuss at the Demonskar Ball and have V tell of the hired mercenaries.

Definitely skippable. My crew mowed through the goblins to the point where it was getting borin, and the extra xp it gave them made it kind of a headache in terms of them being too high level to make the beginning of Flood Season a challenge. I ended up having to up the CRs on the the bandits at the Lucky Monkey. If I run it again for another group, I'll skip it entirely. As mentioned above, the only crucial info is about the half-orc mercs, and that's easily taken care of.


Sounds like I'll give this one a pass as well, then. The party just took down Kazmojen in a hard fight, and are just about to throw down with his reinforcements (the 7 hobgoblins the party hadn't fought yet), but as a cliffhanger I had a certain round critter show up just before they rolled their initiative dice. :)

They plan to clean up Jzadirune and the Malachite Fortress, so they should be alright to handle Flood Season without the extra 'fun' of Drathkar. Besides...they took down Kazmojen entirely too easily (albeit they had some amazing rolls from the crossbow-wielding rogue, not to mention help from a couple of half-elves who showed up in the nick of time). I want them to remember Tongueater with shivers of fear.

In terms of plot, it isn't particularly necessary. However, my PCs wouldn't have had enough xp for Flood Season without it. Additionally, the treasure levels for my PCs going in to Flood Season were just about exactly right, and I'm not sure if that would have happened without Drakthar's stuff.

You could wipe out some of the similarities, rather then skipping it. For instance, the entrance to the Drakthar's way could be outside of the city and goblins are being a pest outside of the city. Or, they could arrive at the opposite entrance to Drakthar's way. If you want to go really different, you could make it above ground. That will avoid another dungeon after Jzadirune and the Malachite Fortrees and before the Kopru Ruins. (My players didn't liked that the first three chapters were basically all dungeon crawls excluding the Lucky Monkey.)

Or you could substitute some other adventure that would give them an extra level.

Hi All,

With my own group, I did run Drathkar’s Way and while it had some memorable moments, I do not think it greatly added anything to the overall experience of the SCAP. My players now have a running joke about how many “lost” ruins there are underneath Cauldron, but it’s all in good fun. :-)

If you are going to run it, I think Dedekind’s advice to change out the location is a good one to help avoid the whole “just how many ruins under Cauldron are there anyway” syndrome. In that case, I would recommend some sort of near by border fort that has fallen into disrepair. Possible maps could be the Border Fort map from Dungeon 118 or Blackwell Keep from Dungeon 126. Both maps are of course available in the web enhancements for each issue.

On the subject of the experience curve, I think that Drathkar’s Way did help my group’s overall power level to take on Flood Season. Especially since we lost two player’s right after finishing Drathkar’s Way (The group started with 7 players and was down to 5 at the start of Flood Season). So if you have a large group, then the extra experience is beneficial. If you group is smaller, then the experience curve will ramp up faster with just Life’s Bazaar and you should be fine.

Good gaming,

It has been mentioned more than once that the PCs need to be made aware that the half-orc mercs are being smuggled into the city. If Drathkar's Way wasn't part of the original adventure path, then how was this fact presented to the PCs in the Dungeon version?

Lone Shark Games

The real question is... why are they being smuggled in? What's stopping them from just walking in the front gate, honestly?

Drakthar's way wasn't part of the original SCAP published in Dungeon, so you're pretty safe skipping it. I personally inserted it in because of the XP and because I wanted to foreshadow the Blue Duke and Gau Kleeoch, one of the cagewrights.

The mercenaries being smuggled in is a bit unnecessary. I changed it to materials being smuggled in for the cagewrights. Although the players never learned the material involved, I decided it was arcane materials needed to construct the tree of shackeled souls.

Lone Shark Games

I'm about to start a new campaign of this, and I'd like to keep it, but I think I might move it outside of the city and make it for materials.

Lone Shark Games

I'm also thinking of changing Drakthar to not be a vampire, but something else... probably make his connection to the cagewrights stronger along the way.

Perhaps I could get some advice on this point. I have a party with 3 PCs plus the eminently survivable Ruphus (I rebuilt him with the Endurance and Diehard feats). They are all about half-way between 3rd and 4th lvl.

Should I run DW (or some other filler) or should I just jump straight to Flood Season?


Chef's Slaad wrote:

Drakthar's way wasn't part of the original SCAP published in Dungeon, so you're pretty safe skipping it. I personally inserted it in because of the XP and because I wanted to foreshadow the Blue Duke and Gau Kleeoch, one of the cagewrights.

The mercenaries being smuggled in is a bit unnecessary. I changed it to materials being smuggled in for the cagewrights. Although the players never learned the material involved, I decided it was arcane materials needed to construct the tree of shackeled souls.

That's a better idea than the mercenaries, definitely. Perhaps the party can intercept the 'final' shipment and learn just what it is that was being brought in. Of course, the question becomes, 'what is this junk for, anyway?' Long-term investigations might prove handy, if the players have the foresight to do this, and it just might give them a few valuable clues later on.

I'm definitely going to have to change Drathkar from a vampire to something else. Defeating him makes Tongueater a pansy, which just won't work.

What about making him a half-orc instead of a bugbear? That could tie in with the Blue Duke as well, since he might have some connection to the mercenary bands. Or he could still be some form of undead, just not a proto-vampire. Or even more interesting, make him a sorcerer or wizard, which would give an excuse to keep the animated throne. I like the idea of a half-orc or bugbear enchanter for some reason; it's just warped enough to make the players go, "Um, the hell?"

Making him an enchanter would allow the DM to keep the majority of the plot; the goblins and Orak are still under his control, with some heavy-duty reinforcement on Orak to keep him from breaking free.

Hmm...I just might keep this adventure after all.

I bet the redesigned ogre mage would be a good substitute for a vampire bugbear.

See the makeover here:

Lone Shark Games

True - of course, the Blue Duke is already there... but maybe that's a way to make a connection.

I was just thinking of the bond movie - Diamonds are Forever - in which Blofelt, bond's archnemisis and head of Spectre has about half a dozen copies of himself. These copies are meant to distract enemies and give the impression that he's everywhere at once.
Why not do something similar with the Blue Duke? He could have several minions disguised as himself, running different aspects of the cauldron operation.

just a thought. You would have to execute it well, because it comes of as corny if you're not carefull.

I hereby resurrect this thread.

I skipped this chapter entirely. Actually that is not true. I substitute the forge of fury and the idea that the source of the half-orcs and orc both is a neighboring town.

So the PC's decide that the best way to stop orcs from coming in is to go and wipe out the "nest" (pit) from whence they sprang.

Plus Forge of Fury is awesome!

I skipped this chapter as well. My party had to flee from Kazmojen their first encounter, as he defeated them very easily. As they were fleeing, Lord Orbius made his appearance and took Terem, but I had Kazmojen go ahead and sell the other children to Pyllrak. The party was quite distraught when they finally defeated Kazmojen and found a receipt on him indicating that "Pyllrak of the Darklands" had purchased them. They found a discarded journal in Pyllrak's room that indicated his plans for reselling the children in the Darklands, and so the second chapter of Shackled City turned into a chase through the Darklands as the party tried their best to catch up to Pyllrak. It turned into one of the best parts of the entire campaign.

That's an interesting idea. Do you tie the Dwarves into the Splintershield Clan and legends of Zenith at all?

I did not do any sort of zenith and dwarven tie in at all. I might have to make some adjustments in the future for that.

Mostly it was a why do they even bother to smuggle in half-orcs when they can come right in the gates, and eventually they are doing just that.

Also Forge of Fury is one of my all time favorite dungeon crawls....

I guess simplest thing is that the distant cousins of the splinter shields were defeated, with a few survivors making their way into the Splintershield family in the distant past. Who knows maybe the two kingdom dwarven alliance was too powerful and someone in Cauldron helped arrange the fall of the dwarves.

This might be a great area to add some foreshadowing ideas......

Did you ever do a write up for that chase?

Here's the various notes, Hero Lab portfolios, and such that I used to run the Darklands chapter:

So maybe straight through Life's Bazaar, into alientudes Underdark chase, then into forge of fury.

maybe some connections to the splintershields....although I don't use Zenith Trajectory either......

I use broadsheets to which provide many hooks for what's happening in Cauldron. If the PCs take on a hunt for a bandit, then the Stormblades handle Drakthar (or vice versa). Very skippable.

Ok so obviously my PC's failed to meet Celeste when I skipped Zenith Trajectory and plugged in forge of fury.

So in the future their are two tie ins for SCAP.
1. The orcs and half orcs are coming from somewhere in the vicinity (forge of fury).

2. The party needs to be hired/coaxed by Celeste & Splintershields to find out what happened to the distant cousins in the nearby region.

That way the PC's meet Celeste prior to Lords of Oblivion.

My bad on that one!

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