The Skinsaw Murders (GM Reference)


Rise of the Runelords

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The mayor is "scheduled" to give them 6k apiece at the conclusion of the book. He could easily advance that money now. He could also fund some additional equipment. "Because once you guys deal with this Skinsaw Sihedron problem, I've got another situation that calls for people of your unique abilities..."

He could even spring for raise dead (perhaps your players don't want their race and abilities changed via reincarnate.) The city still doesn't know what or who Xanesha is (what did your pc's know before they got to the clock tower?) and speak with dead doesn't answer all questions, etc. 10k (for the raise dead spells) isn't that much money if it gets him motivated agents (vengeance angle for the pc's) to deal with someone who probably still plans on sacrificing him! And also gets him agents who will get people to stop whining to him about this Turtleback Ferry nonsense. My take on the Mayor is/was that he is self-centered and conniving - he cares very much about not being sacrificed but doesn't care at all about Turtleback Ferry. So in my run through, he was anxious to get the pc's out of town since they are a reminder of a major scandal in his government (Ironbriar) and to shut up all the people clamoring for him to deal with the reports about the Black Arrows. "See? I did something. Now, lets get back to planning next week's party."

Unasked for/unwanted advice: your group could use an NPC companion or cohort to get it some additional action economy. Xanesha is the point in the campaign where a lot of save or die (be knocked out of the fight) powers start to be a regular occurrence. If one pc fails a save, the other is in REAL trouble.


Latrecis wrote:

...

Unasked for/unwanted advice: your group could use an NPC companion or cohort to get it some additional action economy. Xanesha is the point in the campaign where a lot of save or die (be knocked out of the fight) powers start to be a regular occurrence. If one pc fails a save, the other is in REAL trouble.

Lovely advice. Thank you very much :)

They have an animal companion, and a custom made monster thing that I gave them that is still a hatchling right now. They will have the monster when we next play. I have been going too slow with his growing up as I sorted out what stats I want him to have and such.

I just finished reading Sins of the Saviors, and I agree with the failing saves observation. I worry about that big time. I may need to attach an NPC from Turtleback or something.

Again, thank you for the advice. That helps a lot. I'll have the mayor pitch in more money with the understanding that they stop Xenesha and take care of his "other problem".


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So my PCs are likely going to find the Seven's Sawmill next session. They captured Nualia and, the fools that they are, brought her to Magnimar for trial. Where the judge assigned to the case just so happened to be Justice Ironbriar.

I'm planning to have her join Justice Ironbriar at the Sawmill, along with of all people Shayliss Vinder. One of my PCs took up with Shayliss and abandoned her somewhat callously. Shayliss ran away to Magnimar, having been, like Nualia, shamed by the residents of Sandpoint for her illicit love affair.

Off stage, Nualia takes Shayliss under her wing in Magnimar and brings her over to worship Lamashtu . The child Shayliss bears in her womb from the affair has become a monstrosity touched by Lamashtu. My campaign got a little soapy. It's been fun. Gonna be an interesting social encounter, if nothing else.

I'd like to level Nualia a bit but avoid turning the fight into a TPK. As written though, it honestly doesn't seem that difficult? Any suggestions as to how many levels to add, and any particular skills you'd add? I'm thinking a level, maybe two max. And I might give Shayliss a cleric level too..


Question to see if this has happened to anyone else.

My party has cleansed Foxglove manner of it's haunt, and is currently level 7 in Mag. They found the deed to the Foxglove manner and decided to claim it as their own, along with the townhouse. I cannot find any reason, outside the Brotherhood of Seven, for them to not be able to maintain the property...provided they pay taxes and for upkeep.

There is nothing indicating that the haunt will come back once exorcised, and the players have thoroughly researched the houses history. Two of them have knowledge engineering, and they are willing to hire and care after (in the meta, with stat sheets) several npcs on the property.

The group is NG and CG, I cannot find anything they are doing to be wrong or out of alignment.

They actually have plans to expand on the house if they ever have down time, adding on some places to craft, a garden, and some small housing for servants and the like....and they already sold or burned all of the prior owners paintings since they all seemed to have bad mojo attached to it.

They also contracted the Sand point Glassworks for a large order to replace the old stained glass that was depicting nasty lich work.

So...has anyone else had something like this happen?


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MrSnacks wrote:

So my PCs are likely going to find the Seven's Sawmill next session. They captured Nualia and, the fools that they are, brought her to Magnimar for trial. Where the judge assigned to the case just so happened to be Justice Ironbriar.

I'm planning to have her join Justice Ironbriar at the Sawmill, along with of all people Shayliss Vinder. One of my PCs took up with Shayliss and abandoned her somewhat callously. Shayliss ran away to Magnimar, having been, like Nualia, shamed by the residents of Sandpoint for her illicit love affair.

Off stage, Nualia takes Shayliss under her wing in Magnimar and brings her over to worship Lamashtu . The child Shayliss bears in her womb from the affair has become a monstrosity touched by Lamashtu. My campaign got a little soapy. It's been fun. Gonna be an interesting social encounter, if nothing else.

I'd like to level Nualia a bit but avoid turning the fight into a TPK. As written though, it honestly doesn't seem that difficult? Any suggestions as to how many levels to add, and any particular skills you'd add? I'm thinking a level, maybe two max. And I might give Shayliss a cleric level too..

Nualias goal is to become a full fledged demon, having her be a Succubus at this point (depending on how much game time has passed) would not be beyond reason or overbearing.

You could, instead, have Nuelia not be in the encounter and put in Shayliss in there instead, even having the meeting be about the birth of the demon spawned child. Having a group of PCs witness a demonic birthing ritual where they walk in as the child pops out would be one hell of a way to kick off a night!


In theory ownership of Foxglove Manor and the Townhouse should pass to Aldern's two sisters (who currently live in Korvosa.) It's up to you how much of a deal you want to make that. (I could very easily imagine them wishing to wash their hands of the manor completely.)


Kalshane wrote:
In theory ownership of Foxglove Manor and the Townhouse should pass to Aldern's two sisters (who currently live in Korvosa.) It's up to you how much of a deal you want to make that. (I could very easily imagine them wishing to wash their hands of the manor completely.)

They plan on squatting at the least, except the one ranger, who would rather make lodgings in the nearby woods.


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Well, if they're planning on keeping it, I imagine they're going to need some "proof" that Aldern sold it to them or otherwise legally passed on ownership to them. (I imagine Magnimar has some sort of laws on the books preventing someone from breaking into someone else's house, finding the deed and then claiming that that house is theirs.)

My first party did end up squatting in the Townhouse, but they took the time to forge a letter from Aldern stating that the party's noble-born fighter (and past acquaintance of Aldern's) had been put in charge of his affairs while he was out of town. (Remember, Ironbriar posted a couple of Faceless Stalkers in the Townhouse to keep up the charade that Aldern was still alive/not a ghoul. Why he did that AND had the house boarded up is one of those things that doesn't make a lot of sense in the AP. I've left out the "boarded up" part in both of my run-throughs.)

I ended up sending a group of Skinsaw Cultists backed up by the Scarecrow to try to murder them in their sleep (Ironbriar is keeping watch on the place and the AP mentions he had copies made of the keys.) However, they were smart/paranoid enough to set watches and detected the Cultists sneaking in and fought them off. (Also, a Flesh Golem is a pretty underwhelming foe against an alchemist.)


Kalshane wrote:

Well, if they're planning on keeping it, I imagine they're going to need some "proof" that Aldern sold it to them or otherwise legally passed on ownership to them. (I imagine Magnimar has some sort of laws on the books preventing someone from breaking into someone else's house, finding the deed and then claiming that that house is theirs.)

My first party did end up squatting in the Townhouse, but they took the time to forge a letter from Aldern stating that the party's noble-born fighter (and past acquaintance of Aldern's) had been put in charge of his affairs while he was out of town. (Remember, Ironbriar posted a couple of Faceless Stalkers in the Townhouse to keep up the charade that Aldern was still alive/not a ghoul. Why he did that AND had the house boarded up is one of those things that doesn't make a lot of sense in the AP. I've left out the "boarded up" part in both of my run-throughs.)

I ended up sending a group of Skinsaw Cultists backed up by the Scarecrow to try to murder them in their sleep (Ironbriar is keeping watch on the place and the AP mentions he had copies made of the keys.) However, they were smart/paranoid enough to set watches and detected the Cultists sneaking in and fought them off. (Also, a Flesh Golem is a pretty underwhelming foe against an alchemist.)

I plan on doing something very similar, we seem to be in the same mindset!

Liberty's Edge

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My party is based in the Lost Coast area, but has so far only been in a homebrew adventure and the starting Beginner Box adventure. I've tried running Burnt Offerings multiple times, but the groups I tried it with never completed, so in the interest of moving on I want this new group to just jump into Skinsaw Murders from the start. With the understanding that my group has ties to Sandpoint but has otherwise not played through anything in Burnt Offerings, what other work do I need to do to set up the beginning of Skinsaw Murders while they're in this homebrew phase?

For a bit more background, here are the alterations I've made to the plot in Burnt Offerings:
The year is 4708 AR, more than one year since the Festival Fire and the deaths in the Kaijitsu family.

Nualia secured a greater blessing from Lamashtu and managed to free, then overpower, Malfeshnekor. Malfeshnekor was not killed, but he was weakened, and then when he tried to marshal the local goblin tribes some adventurers (a group I did a one-shot with) caught on and put him and the Seven Tooth Tribe down. Nualia, empowered by taking Malfeshnekor's soul energy, is some sort of unique half-fiend I haven't statted up yet, and probably won't be encountered until much later. Anyway, she's realized that the goblin tribes are too weakened by the repeated adventurer raids to be suitable foot soldiers for destroying Sandpoint, and she's starting to think about a bigger picture than a single town.

Meanwhile, the object of Aldern's infatuation has shifted from one of the departed adventurers to Nualia. I'm not sure if he knows of her new form and has helped her, or if he heard how she was behind some of the Late Unpleasantness and thinks she's tragically misunderstood. Either way, I need an alternative way to creep out the party since Aldern will probably not be going on a boar hunt with them. Maybe he could imitate someone they know, using the mask?

The rest of the remaining enemy NPCs, besides Grogmurt (who's possibly joined the Licktoad tribe after the dispersion of the Thistletops and the Seven Tooths), have all died at the hands of adventurers, Nualia, and Nualia's dogs. Many adventurers have also died, proving no match for the demon priestess in Thistletop.

Once Nualia freed Malfeshnekor, she left Thistletop. Several months after Malfeshnekor was slain, during which no travelers went missing and the goblin tribes seemed to calm themselves, Brodert got Shalelu and Ameiko to scope Thistletop out for him and has since started making regular trips to document the Thassilonian ruins. He's also been studying the still-operative runewell in the Catacombs of Wrath, which for some reason has not shut off despite repeated sinspawn raisings-and-slayings. In fact, the runewell seems stronger than ever, and Sheriff Hemlock and Father Zantus fear its effect on the people of Sandpoint is becoming dangerous. By the time the party gets back from their current adventure, Sandpoint will be suffering a plague of wrath that is not just emotional, but physical - several people in the town already have transformed into sinspawn, and many are partially converted. Along the lines of this old unused idea, but with the bonus that my new players haven't actually fought goblins to save Sandpoint yet, so it won't be repetitive.


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Gark the Goblin wrote:
...what other work do I need to do to set up the beginning of Skinsaw Murders while they're in this homebrew phase?** spoiler omitted **...

Important plot elements:

From memory only 2 things are really necessary:
- Introduce Aldern as soon as you can, in whatever positive way works with the group. This is important because it is where he establishes his obsession with a party member.
- Build up some level of attachment between the party and Sandpoint, or at least the farmers of the region. This really drives the initial engagement in the adventure - puts some emotional drive behind it.


Has anyone ever had a party with a ranger use the Residual Tracking spell on the Skinsaw man's footprints to see him and skip a bunch of the book?

Residual tracking


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I would describe the skinsaw man rather than state that he's so-and-so. Have him dressed in sodden clothes the PC hadn't seen before. The combo of 1)the change to a ghoul and 2)the Your Lordship persona will have distorted facial features enough that a description rather than an early reveal is warranted.


mousmous wrote:
I would describe the skinsaw man rather than state that he's so-and-so....

I back this advice 100%. You want the players to _realise_ who it is - don't tell them. The impact is much higher and increases emotional engagement.


el cuervo wrote:

Now that I'm thinking about the farmstead ghoul encounter, and since it's the next event in my campaign, I need to consider something. The ghoul paralysis is what makes this encounter so dangerous, but my party consists of two half-elves (one a cleric), an elf, and a human paladin. This party make-up essentially renders the ghoul paralysis useless.

Is there something else I should consider to make this encounter more challenging? ...

Consider not making it more challenging. Allow the players to enjoy the immunity. "We're elves! We fear no ghouls!"


Tangent101 wrote:

Three attacks a round, each one with the possibility of causing paralysis.

A lot of parties have been laid low by this. Admittedly, they have to close before they get a full attack... but if they group up on a guy, then it's doubtful more than one will go down unless the group is lucky with Channel Energy.

Also don't forget the Stench ability of the Ghast - area affect, causes a Sickened condition. -2 to hit and damage can hurt.

Also, have the Ghouls attack from Stealth. The only people who get to act are those who make their Perception check to detect the ghouls. This means the Ghouls WILL close, and probably get attacks on flatfooted PCs.

Be careful though. Paralysis can result in a TPK before you know it. While other GMs love to use Coup de Grace, don't. Have the ghouls drag off people to gnaw on them while they're still alive. More horrifying... and allows for rescues.

I had a similar situation in another campaign. My PCs were "TPKd" and, tester than song, they woke up in a pool filled with corpses. Now they are dealing the ghoul corruption from Pathfinder Horror.

The corruptions are a very good alternate to player death imo.


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For all GMs preparing to run the Misgivings, contemplate on this:

The boss in the deepest part of the dungeon was once a powerful wizard who turned himself immortal by way of becoming undead moss.

Vorel Foxglove is a lichen.


It was so close. Last time I botched a spell that badly was when I accidentally cast limited fish.


So I'm currently nearing the end of this module. My group only has the tower and the big boss left to go.And they're on pace to get all that done. No big deal there. What I DO need some advice on is this:

My group entered the lumber mill, not on oath day, and was able to sneakily dispatch all current cult members and IronBriar without any incident. And then long story short through some quick thinking, disguise spells, and some good bluff rolls now essentially own the mill with the remaining cultists believing my rouge is IronBriar. How in the hell do I pay them out for day to day operations? Provided they keep up the farce.


Talking about Oath Day - how important it is that players come there on that day? Should I stall them somewhere?

Also, does the Manor react to Detect Magic? Like, if a bard casts it on a wall/window/door or any other normal object, will she notice something?
I know haunts will not be noticed by Detect Magic, but will with Detect Undead


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Considering that a Lich's phylactery is a wondrous item, and that the manor is essentially a mostly failed (but still partially successful) attempt at that, I'd suggest that detect magic would return a weirdly persistent dim aura.

And, in case it comes up, I'd say detect undead and detect evil would reveal an aura consistent with the CR of the mold in the basement. And, in the case of detect thoughts, I'd go with a confusing "null" entry on intelligence score despite detecting a thinking mind, and the surface thoughts are creepy things like "murder" and "get out"


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tl;dr - the party took over the Kaijitsu mansion in Magnimar and investigated the Foxglove Townhouse (with a lot of insanity along the way). There is a question at the bottom of all this, so please just jump there if you don't want to know how things have been going.

Game Update: Kaijitsu mansion in Magnimar...

After a prolonged (out of game) delay, my group was finally able to continue their playthrough this weekend. Before the break, they had just arrived in Magnimar and sold off their remaining treasure from The Misgivings (too rich for Sandpoint to afford according to its stats). They took up residence for a few days in The Stag and Raven inn in Naos to do so, with the Arcanist going out on the town to ask questions about the area (and make it so she could roll Knowledge: Local without my tabletop penalty of "new to town" of -2 for the first two days - need to get your bearings first before that skill can be properly used imo). The Samurai and Slayer, along with the Cleric went to sell the items while the Bloodrager spent her time getting obliterated in the taverns in the area.

While going about selling things, the Samurai (who recently managed to move his relationship with Ameiko to the point where she gave them her father's mansion to use as a base of operations in Sandpoint) found a note in his backpack written in her handwriting stating simply "16 Cliffside Road." After getting lost with a few bad Knowledge: Local rolls (and the Ranger and Arcanist deciding to use a Feather Fall scroll to leap off the cliff and drift down to the lower city - for the adrenaline rush), the Cleric and Samurai located the mansion only to find that it was in awful shape. The wall was white-washed with faded blue tiles on the top and the gates themselves were barely hanging on. Beneath the wooden plate with "16 Cliffside Road" carved into it was another with the Minkaian symbols for "Kaijitsu" (at which point, the Samurai realized just how wealthy the Kaijitsu family is). The mansion beyond the wall was a three story traditional Minkaian affair.

The Samurai and Cleric went in through the gates to discover the house and grounds in even worse shape than they expected. Every window was missing, the gravel gardens were rucked up and littered with a variety of feces and the fountain pool between the gate and building was empty and stained with urine. The front sliding doors to the mansion were gone and the interior was dark with shadow. In the background, they saw a traditional storehouse and a delapidated shrine sitting near the cliff's edge. Picking their way across the yard, they discovered the interior floors were creaky, the internal sliding walls were missing along with the tatami that would normally form the floors. The first floor was hard-packed dirt, with only the structural support walls still in place, along with a creaky old staircase to the second floor. Four piles of belongings were found in the front room, evidence of someone living in the place - rags and random collected remains of lives piled into rough assemblages of ownership.

As they climbed the stairs, they heard voices (young, excited and scared) and called out, letting the owners know they had heard them.

Unfortunately for the Arcanist (who chose to run up the stairs), the weakened staircase collapsed at that time, dropping her into a closet filled with a Spider Swarm, which caused all sorts of chaos, ending with her newfound Familiar (a small Fire Elemental they named "Enfuego") casting Burning Hands for her and nearly setting the house ablaze.

A gnome, easily mistaken for a youth, stepped out and asked who they were before making sure they would not be harmed if they did come out. The Samurai promised them all safety in exchange for revealing themselves and quickly discovered there were 6 human youths, a halfling in his teens and the gnome, who was actually middle-aged but could easily pass as a human child if he tried. The gnome told them that they "belonged" to the men downstairs, who had them go into the streets in the mornings to beg and turn in most of their earnings in exchange for a roof over their head and a few loaves of bread or whatever they'd come up with that day. Promising that they would be fed and housed if they agreed to help clean up the place, the Samurai found out that three of the four men whose belongings downstairs answered to a fellow named "Ricar" who had connections to the thieves' guild and who was their "leader."

After gathering everyone together, they decided to start cleaning up the place and prepared for the evening, when Ricar and his allies would return. The Cleric saw to their various ailments while the Bloodrager went to purchase cleaning supplies and foodstuffs while everyone else began cleaning the place up. In the evening, everyone took up hiding places around the house's interior while the Samurai sat on the porch, waiting. When Ricar and his allies came through the gate, they stopped, asked who he was and what he was doing there and were told that he represented the Kaijitsu's interests and that they were no longer welcome.

"We'll see about that," said Ricar - only to get a pair of arrows through the chest from the hidden Slayer above. His neighbor went down the next round and the Samurai charged the third, taking him down in no time. The fourth panicked and ran back into the street, screaming about being attacked and managed to get away...

The next morning, a Sergeant of the City Watch showed up with a handful of men, telling of a homeless man who had been "attacked and thrown out of his home." It turned out that this was an old friend of theirs, who had come to Magnimar shortly after "guest starring" at the beginning of Thistletop - she had joined the Watch as a cleric, healing their injuries and taking control of "special investigations" (that did not extend to the "Star Murders" as the Watch had taken to calling the various mysterious murders taking place around the city). Realizing who they were, she sent the other Watchmen back and investigated, only to realize that the troupe really were friends with Ameiko from Sandpoint. After spending some time in the city library, she discovered that the house did indeed belong to Lonjiku Kaijitsu (whom the troupe advised was dead). Unfortunately, without any proof of their affiliation with the Kaijitsu family (notwithstanding their efforts to clean the place up and basically move in), they had no right to the place either (a fact which the Sergeant of the Watch simply chose to ignore). She told them about this and advised them to provide documentation so they would not be evicted post-haste.

In a scramble, realizing it would take at least a week in the winter storms that were blowing through the area to get a message to and from Sandpoint (and with no interest in returning to the Stag and Raven and have to pay for the children's room and board), they paid for a Sending spell to be sent to Ameiko, requesting the deed to the property, along with their allies, Lyrie and Orik (whom they had made companions through high Diplomacy rolls upon meeting them). Ameiko said she would get to work on it...

While waiting, the troupe heard from the children that the third floor of the house was "terrifying" and "filled with demons" and chose to investigate. The top floor was little more than a single chamber with four pillars holding up the roof. Four Minkaian armor stands stood around the chamber, with a glass case in the center holding a perfectly preserved suit of Oyoroi. Unfortunately, the floor had become the home of a series of Giant and House Centipedes, which immediately moved to attack. The Arcanist proceeded to tell them that the armor was not only magical, but likely had to do with the fact that the house wasn't in worse condition and hadn't been infested with anything more than homeless people and a few oversized bugs. After dispatching the centipedes, they cleared out the remains while the Samurai sketched out an image of the Oyoroi to send to Ameiko to inquire about.

The Samurai sent for more tools and paid a troupe of carpenters to come in and start shoring up the place while they awaited the deed from Ameiko. They then (FINALLY) set off to find the Foxglove Townhouse.

Finding the first floor of the townhouse boarded up, they decided to use the key they'd discovered in the Misgivings, only to have the door open for them and find Aldern and Iesha Foxglove staring at them and asking how they could help. Without a pause, the Slayer put his boot into Aldern's chest and began screaming that he was a necromancer and a murderer while the Sergeant of the Watch looked on in horror. Aldern and his wife began calling for the guard (there being a tower just down the street). They came at a run and then arrested the Slayer for "assault." The Sergeant then sent the others to the Watchtower with the new guards, entering the house to investigate what was going on with another guard.

Unfortunately for the Sergeant, once they were in the trophy room, the creatures pretending to be Aldern and Iesha attacked, slaying her companion Watchman out of hand while nearly slaying her in a single round. Backing away, she cast a healing burst on herself before managing to escape out the front door and flee to the Watchtower and tell the others that they had been (at least somewhat) correct. The entire party then went through the building, looking for the two, but Aldern and Iesha had escaped over the garden wall at this point, their mission complete. The Arcanist discovered the hidden cache of documents... and they returned to the Kaijitsu Mansion...

As you can tell, this was a long game session, with a lot of RP going on. We started at 1pm and played until 1am, with only a few breaks for food and miscellany along the way. Not bad for a return game!

As a side note - I noticed several folks mentioning their PCs took the information about the Misgivings to Justice Ironbriar. I saw no such information to lead them in that direction, so the troupe I am running have no knowledge about Ironbriar's involvement. As above, the monsters in the Foxglove residence RAN after their encounter with the Sergeant of the Guard (so I am planning having them show up later at the Sawmill). If anyone can offer suggestions as to how to involve Justice Ironbriar before their encounter at the Sawmill, I'd be intrigued to hear about it.


@World's Okayest DM:

I've had two groups run through the Skinsaw Murders so far.

The first group had an LN Monk and wanted to go meet the Mayor as soon as they got to Magnimar so he'd be okay with the authorities. Since the AP makes mention of rumors and various talk among the guards about the serial killings that have been going on for the past year or so (as opposed to the Cult's occasional death every now and then), I had the PCs arrive at the Mayor's office to find him arguing and yelling at Ironbriar for his incompetence. That resulted in the party being the goody-goodys and telling the Mayor who they were, why they were there, and everything they'd learned in Sandpoint and the Misgivings, hence what they planned to do next... It was such a surprise when they encountered Ironbriar later that night. :)

The second group arrived in Magnimar in ones and twos, having taken care of business in Sandpoint, so the investigation of the Foxglove Townhouse was a solo adventure for the Dwarven Barbarian (after making friends with a beggar, who watched, waited, and then came to get him when the guards weren't around). However, one of the players, the Rogue, knew all about Ironbriar and the Cult due to backstory and childhood, so getting the party pointed towards the Sawmill wasn't an issue for them.

For your group... You know that Ironbriar's one of the head judges and in charge of the Law, as it stands. He's got a secret network of cultists, but he could always have other helpers. I would not put it past him at all to have a few corrupt guards on his payroll.

And since he's the one who put the Faceless Stalkers at the house, he'd want to keep an eye on them in case things went wrong. If I were you, I'd put one or two guards from the Watchtower on Ironbriar's payroll, with the possibility of them taking the party's Cleric Watch friend for the next Oathsday ceremony (since by now, she knows quite a lot that she really shouldn't...). After all, I imagine the party would notice if she suddenly isn't around. :P


Hi everyone. I still have to start my campaign, but one of the players in my group has made a backstory for his character that he has an underground laboratory in Sandpoint where he does experiments on people. He's playing an Alchemist Chirurgeon.

It will take a while before we get to Habe's Sanatorium, but any ideas on if I can link that adventure and that NPC to his backstory somehow? Would be great if I can foreshadow it at the beginning of the campaign.


@Lawrencelot: Perhaps re-build Habe as an Alchemist Chirugeon himself and have Habe be, at your choice, either:

1. the PC's mentor
2. an escaped/survived victim of the PC with a warped interest in "protecting" people from the PC or doing his own research to become better than the PC

What do you think?


So my PCs party make up has changed greatly before they started book 2, and so far there are zero surviving PCs from the opening of book 1, which makes the Skinsaw Man's letters a lot...harder for me to put together? What are some suggestions on how to handle these notes left behind?

Also, opinions on replacing Grayst (the lead taken the the sanitorium) with Orik, since he was spared in their encounter and allowed to leave?


I have knee-jerk reactions to backstories that beg the question of why the character is only 1st level. An established lab does that for me. I'm making the assumption that the backstory includes the methods and structure the character has in place for keeping the lab a secret? My bias aside, Habe presents the world with a legal operation and as such, there's good reason to believe that your player's character would have heard of the sanitorium, simply by being a resident of Sandpoint, let alone having in similar interest.

Habe could be a supplier of subjects.
The character could be a supplier of alchemical items Habe uses to study/subdue his patients.
The character could be a supplier of alchemical items for Habe's "associate" (I forget his name).
They could be classmates from wherever they received training.
They could be relatives interested in the same subject.
They could be competitors for a supply that they both require, but is limited in supply, like equipment used to restrain patients.

The real question is why do you want the connection? If it's only to foreshadow the encounter, then the real connection could be to a shared supplier of some kind that gives information on other people in the area buying the same supplies. Whenever the PC needs something, and goes to that supplier, that's when the supplier reveals whatever complication that drops Habe's name.

Making a direct connection to Habe for the sake of foreshadowing carries some risks both for a premature encounter and for increased contact after. I'll tell you that the alchemist in my party took over Habe's sanitorium after they met him, and made it his new lab. It wasn't a strain on the campaign only because the player was cool enough to recognize that it was a side hustle, and left it's operation largely in the background of events (it became the thing he tended to when the group had any downtime, and nothing more).


Fair Strides wrote:

@Lawrencelot: Perhaps re-build Habe as an Alchemist Chirugeon himself and have Habe be, at your choice, either:

1. the PC's mentor
2. an escaped/survived victim of the PC with a warped interest in "protecting" people from the PC or doing his own research to become better than the PC

What do you think?

I like the idea of them being competitors, with Habe wanting to be better than the PC somehow.

Quote:
I'm making the assumption that the backstory includes the methods and structure the character has in place for keeping the lab a secret?

Yeah, he supplies Pillbug with chemicals, and has a shop with simple herbs and medicines.

Quote:
They could be competitors for a supply that they both require, but is limited in supply, like equipment used to restrain patients.

Really like this option. I'll have them be competitors as with the idea above. I think I will let Habe hate the player, and let the player figure out why only when they get to this part of the Skinsaw Murders.

Thanks for the ideas Fair Strides and mousmous!

Liberty's Edge

Aunders wrote:

So my PCs party make up has changed greatly before they started book 2, and so far there are zero surviving PCs from the opening of book 1, which makes the Skinsaw Man's letters a lot...harder for me to put together? What are some suggestions on how to handle these notes left behind?

Also, opinions on replacing Grayst (the lead taken the the sanitorium) with Orik, since he was spared in their encounter and allowed to leave?

You could address the letters to an NPC they're close to. Or, do what I'm doing and find a way for them to meet Åldern during the Murders. I'm notably giving his mask the ability to hide the stench ability and allow him to assume his old form by looking at a painting of himself.


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Aunders wrote:

So my PCs party make up has changed greatly before they started book 2, and so far there are zero surviving PCs from the opening of book 1, which makes the Skinsaw Man's letters a lot...harder for me to put together? What are some suggestions on how to handle these notes left behind?

Also, opinions on replacing Grayst (the lead taken the the sanitorium) with Orik, since he was spared in their encounter and allowed to leave?

My pc's met Aldern and survived to Book 2 but I didn't like the obsession with its sexual overtones so I had Aldern be angry with the leaders of the town for not helping him rebuild his house, sending workers that seduced his wife, etc. So his notes targeted the mayor and the leader of the carpenter guild, etc. This also made it more plausible for Hemlock to ask the pc's to investigate which makes him look weak or foolish if the pc's are directly implicated in the murders based on evidence at the scene. Even if it appears to be a frame.

Replacing Grayst with Orik sounds okay, pending the terms of his "release." My pc's also sent Orik on his way with a "don't let us ever see you again" - indicating he should leave the region entirely. It does strike me as entirely plausible that Orik would fall in with the thieves Grayst is with when attacked by the Skinsaw Man. Orik's singular ability seems to be: making bad choices.


Has anyone had the idea previously to use the game board (or tiles, rather) from Betrayal at House on the Hill for the Misgivings? There isn't much combat in the manor until you descend into the basement and they may serve as a more thematic feel than drawing exactly what appears on the given map.

Just a thought.


One of my players immediately knew it was Aldern as soon as he saw the note with the players name he was obsessed with on it. We stopped right after they investigated the bodies in the sawmill. I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how I could throw him off the trail of Aldern a bit? I thought I had a decent number of red herrings. I had Titus Scarnetti and Caizarlu show up in book one so I thought that would help, but one of my players is just too smart I guess.


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The Unfortunate Pumpkin wrote:
One of my players immediately knew it was Aldern as soon as he saw the note with the players name he was obsessed with on it. We stopped right after they investigated the bodies in the sawmill. I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how I could throw him off the trail of Aldern a bit? I thought I had a decent number of red herrings. I had Titus Scarnetti and Caizarlu show up in book one so I thought that would help, but one of my players is just too smart I guess.

I don't think it is the end of the world if the player's figure it out. At most, they could decide to skip Habe's, and even that isn't guaranteed. After all, the last place Aldern said he would be is Magnimar and Habe's is on the way. If the party tries to use Knowledge: Local to figure out where else he could have gone or anything else about the Foxglove family, I'd probably share the info about the Misgivings, but Habe's is also on the way to there and the party would be wise to gather exhaust all sources of info rather than go in blind.

Either way, Maester Gump can still run into the party on the road to wherever they're going.


I mean, it doesn't really make a big difference- my players were put off by Habe's insistence that they not come in (they didn't try terribly hard), so I just sent them off on the Scarecrow mission, and then they found their way to the manor from their. If they figure it out quickly, it's far from the end of the world.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, there's no real reason to keep it a secret. If the players figured it out, then let the players feel smart for figuring it out.


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An update on my game, like you guys said it wasn't the end of the world. Actually as things went on my players started doubting it was really Aldern committing the murders. When the reveal with the key to Foxglove manor happened my players were still surprised, one of my players even let out a pretty loud gasp, it was great. Overall it was one of our best sessions with this AP, I was worried for nothing

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