How to tie the Hook Mountain Massacre to The Skinsaw Murders?


Rise of the Runelords


I am preparing myself to run the RoTRL adventure path but one thing that struck me is what I believe to be a weak rationale from moving from the Skinsaw Murders (chapter 2) to the Hook Mountain Massacre (chapter 3).

Basically, the players are given a mission to go and investigate a remote outpost that has not given any sign of life for a while.

I do find the idea of a mission a bit weak and wish that there would be a better idea to get the player to explore Fort Ranick by themselves. A letter from one of the Lamias to the other would be an easy ploy but sadly this one has already been used to link Foxglove to Magimar, so I would like to avoid this stratagem altogether.

My question is therefore: Has anyone found a clever way to link the Skinsaw Murder to the Hook Mountain massacre?

Grand Lodge

To increased the PCs desire, I had them attend a dinner party in Sandpoint that happened to be attended by a noble from turtleback ferry. He had one of the Sihedron Runes tatooed on his forearm from Lucrecia's riverboat. The PC knew Lucrecia's name from some evidence in Xanesha's treasure. Now they don't know exactly what's going on but they know there's a Lamia around and the rune. When they got the letter from Grobraras, their interest was already high for a trip to Turtleback.


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Not a bad idea, Magnus. To use that same idea, maybe the Lord Mayor could ask the party to investigate based on a request from a messenger from Turtleback Ferry. The messenger brings news that Fort Rannick has been cut off and nobody sent to inquire has returned. The mayor, of course, is completely put out with the idea that a commoner from the sticks would request aid from His Lordship and asks the PCs to look into it. When the PCs spot the sihedron mark on the messenger, it's ON.

In my campaign, my plan was to have the Lord Mayor grant the characters (who, he notices, just saved his sorry hide) a knighthood. At the very public ceremony where they are granted titles, the Lord Mayor also announces that their new charge as Noble Defenders of the City is to investigate and take command of Fort Rannick. What PC is going to be able to say no when the entire city is standing there when the assignment is offered?


Fletch wrote:

Not a bad idea, Magnus. To use that same idea, maybe the Lord Mayor could ask the party to investigate based on a request from a messenger from Turtleback Ferry. The messenger brings news that Fort Rannick has been cut off and nobody sent to inquire has returned. The mayor, of course, is completely put out with the idea that a commoner from the sticks would request aid from His Lordship and asks the PCs to look into it. When the PCs spot the sihedron mark on the messenger, it's ON.

In my campaign, my plan was to have the Lord Mayor grant the characters (who, he notices, just saved his sorry hide) a knighthood. At the very public ceremony where they are granted titles, the Lord Mayor also announces that their new charge as Noble Defenders of the City is to investigate and take command of Fort Rannick. What PC is going to be able to say no when the entire city is standing there when the assignment is offered?

Now that is one audacious railroad! Bravo!

For real: you get one of those per campaign as a DM, so you might as well make it memorable.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I used what I called the 'Desna Button' a little earlier during skinsaw. We have a character who is a devote follower of Desna and she had a dream of malicious fey and all these sorts of things, which led to a side trek which ended up taking the players all the way to turtleback ferry and a slightly modified carnival of tears module.

Having spent a bit of time in that town(and one of the characters really enjoying time on paradise), they were completely unable to make any spot checks(thankfully). But now with the end of skinsaw, I pointed out that they noticed a very passing resemblance between Xanesha and Lucretcia which they are itching to investigate further now as they are unsure if they are the same person disguised or what.

I have a feeling they aren't going to run there right away, however, but if they do I plan on having Shalelu catch them on the way and tell them she wants to go as well. Otherwise, I think I am going to have her introduce the mission, perhaps having spoken to Belor that she will be unable to do her scouting for a while as she wishes to go find her father, and belor could tell her that he has heard word from magnimar that there has been trouble in the region. Then shalelu could bring it to the PCs, as they are much more able to handle real trouble then she is alone.

-Tarlane


Well given that Xanesha's and Lucrecia's areas of operation are fairly close...what if Xanesha is keeping records of her progress in comparison to Lucrecia's. Sort of a soul-stealing competition if you will. What if Xanesha has written a note on one of these records lamenting the fact that Lucrecia's operation has been blessed by a personal representative of the head honcho (i.e. Mokmurian sends Barl to Hook Mountain).

No railroading there.

Granting knighthoods with a public request to venture to Fort Rannick would sort of sweeten the pot a bit.


roguerouge wrote:

Now that is one audacious railroad! Bravo!

For real: you get one of those per campaign as a DM, so you might as well make it memorable.

Aw yeah. I didn't spend all those years reading Flashman novels without learning a thing or two about cornering hesitant adventurers.

Having trouble getting your PCs to go to Magnimar in Skinsaw Murders? Well, one forced marriage to Shaylis Vinder aughta put some spring in their boots...


I believe I suggested something along the following lines in one of the old Hook Mountain Massacre threads:

For years, the Grauls have been snatching and eating travellers; these disappearances have not gone un-noticed, and the Black Arrows always sent word of purported disappearances in their regular reports to Magnimar. The Member of the Magnimar council resposible for handling reports from Fort Rannick was.... Justice Ironbriars.
Ironbriars knew of the Grauls (maybe even the Skinsaw Cult had some sort of informal contact with the ogrekin) and, being a follower of Norgorber, he approved of the Grauls' doings. He certainly covered up the mention of the disappearances, when he had to speak to his fellow council members about Fort Rannick. Until the PCs exposed Ironbriars, nobody high-up in Magnimar realised that there were any problems out towards Turtleback Ferry.
Now the council members have been going through Ironbriars' papers, exposing all the dirty scams and other dark deeds which he has been involved in for years. As part of the 'tidying up' operation, they ask the PCs to head out to Turtleback Ferry, and look into the disappearances. They give them carte blanche to deal with the source of the disappearances and with any other trouble going on in the area; maybe the PCs are even given documents authorising them to call in at the Fort after sorting out the disappearances, to claim their reward from the commander of the garrison.
The point is that at this moment, the authorities in Magnimar do not know that anything is wrong at the Fort, and hence have no reason to send troops of any sort out, which has proven a problem to some groups who expect military assistance to back up an investigation of why contact has been lost with a fort.
The PCs arrive in Turtleback Ferry, and only whilst investigating the disappearing travellers do they stumble across the fact that the Fort has recently fallen. Any kind of messages sent to Magnimar at this point will request the PCs to deal with the situation as best they can- backup will be weeks in arriving.

Hope this may be of some use, even if only in provoking thoughts as to alternative solutions.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Until the PCs exposed Ironbriars, nobody high-up in Magnimar realised that there were any problems out towards Turtleback Ferry.

Now the council members have been going through Ironbriars' papers, exposing all the dirty scams and other dark deeds which he has been involved in for years. As part of the 'tidying up' operation, they ask the PCs to head out to Turtleback Ferry, and look into the disappearances.

This is brilliant. It solves a whole bunch of logic problems in one swoop, and it's flavorful, too. I wish I'd thought of it. My hat is off to you, sir.

A key thing for us was that the PCs must not be sent because the Fort has fallen. It would take time for word to reach Magnimar; it takes 10+ days to get to Fort Rannick; and the descriptions when you get there look like the Fort fell no more than 3 days ago. These are very hard to reconcile. If the PCs are instead investigating Graul-related disappearances, that problem disappears. Also, Ironbriar's intervention helps explain why the Grauls were allowed to persist for so long. He may have put some kind of pressure on the Black Arrows; you could have one of the survivors mention suspicions of exactly this.

As you say, it also explains why Magnimar is not making a military response to a military problem. (Watch out for this again at the transition between Hook Mountain and Fortress. My player decided that Magnimar is run by utter incompetents.)

Mary


Good ideas. Here is how I plan to modify Pathfinder #2 & Pathfinder #3:

Spoiler:
  • Merge Xanesha & Lucretia because two Lamias in a row tend to dilute the value of the monster. Xanesha has plans for both Magnimar and Turtlleback Ferry.
  • Make it so that Ironbriar escapes. My PCs will have an inkling of who he is and what position he occupies but they cannot prove anything. Ironbriar will become a recuring vilain
  • After having stormed the mill of the 7 and witnessed a masked Ironbriar's narrow escape, they ransack his office and find a) A pile of reports from Fort Ranick mentioning the town of Turrtlback Ferry attempt at swindling taxes and unusual ogre activity. b) a letter from "ironbriar" to Xanesha reporting that he has indeed diverted all the reports from Turttleback Ferry as she requested and lamenting her sudden departure from Magnimar
  • By following the messenger raven in Ironbriar's office, the PC get to Xanesha's tower. She has left town but ransacking her place let the PC discover that a) She likes green. All her cloth are green. b) a huge stone tablet written in Thalissionian rune in which Barl Breakbone, Herald of the High-Lord Mormurkian summons her to Turttleback Ferry to accomplish the last stage of her plan (foreshadowing of the giants and Mormurkian here)
  • The PCs should logically then head to Turrtleback Ferry looking for a woman in green which fits the description of the owner of the paradise. She has actually left town recently for Fort Ranick. No one has seen any ranger since the head of the fort visited town a week ago. There is also a group of very suspicious dwarfs in town. They are obviously involved in some kind of deal with the town elders
  • What really happened is that the elders of Turttleback Ferry have found a gold mine in the vicinity of town. Barl Breakbone as a stone giant may have helped by providing the location of the mine to Xanesha who sold this to the elders and put her machination in place. The town elders want to keep this discovery secret to avoid paying taxes or having the town of Magnimar seize the mine. Hence the need to get rid of the ranger and the presence in town of dwarf miners from nearby Janderhoff. To get rid of the rangers, the elders invited the head of the order in town on a false pretext while Xanesha went to Fort Ranick to use her charm power on the second in command who was a good customer of the paradise. It is actually the town elders who sold the ranger delegation to the grauls who ambush them on their way back after a fruitless meeting. I wanted to up the greediness of the town of Turrtleback Ferry. Of course when the water will start rising, the town elders will refuse to evacuate the village for fear of losing the mine/one of them betraying the secret

What do you think and please help me spot any flaws in the above?


I saw the weakness ahead of time, so when the characters were being created I had a chat to the Ranger and gave him a back story of being an Orphan raised by the Black Arrow order. His mentor had sent him off to see the world before he returned and devoted his life to the order.

When one of the origional characters died in the second book, he was a cleric of Esteril(sp?) with a few levels of Ranger, it made sense for him to come from the area as well.

This allowed the PC's to have a tie with the fort and to know more about the Turtleback Ferry surrounds.

Spoiler:
In the end I didn't need the tie in, the mayor went over board with the party and treated them like long lost friends after they effectively saved his life. His incentive to check out the fort was enough to pursued them to go.


Well, I started HMM last night, and I think I handled the transition pretty well.

At the end of Skinsaw, Xanesha got away and one of the PCs died ignominiously. After extricating him from under the collapsed tower, they now had to reincarnate him (they had had the discussion before). I decided that Shalelu's student (another of the PCs), had heard of Myriana. As a personal quest she had decided to travel there to learn under the nymph (wanted to take druid levels), so they went to see if they could score a Reincarnate. After a quest to eliminate the Hydra (which in True20 is anyhting but a pushover), they scored the reincarnate. The ranger PC stayed to learn from the Druid, giving her a connection to Turtleback Ferry. The others ersturned to Sandpoint.

Two years later, the PC who co-owns sandpoint's Brothel discovered that one of the merchant's from Turtleback that had come to buy glass from Sandpoint had the Sihedron Mark. The next night he learned that her maid also. Suffice to say that this guy is scoring Lust points heavily. He learned about Paradise, and that it had been installed about a year in a half ago.

At the same time, they received a messenger bird from the ranger training with Myriana, speaking of spotting the Sihedron Mark in Turtleback herself, as well as some mysterious happenings in the area.

The Pcs, heroes that they are, decided to travel urgently to Claybottom Lake. During the trip they were accompanied by different gnomes singing their particular brand of music (I had a Muddy Waters CD playing all the time). I decided that the Bleaching meant a special affinity for Blues. ;)

After surviving a nasty attack by some giant snapping turtles, they arrived. The ranger PC was no were to be found (Player didn't show up), so they decided to do some sleuthing themselves. Finally, deciding that all signs pointed to Paradise, they went into the Casino.

We proceeded to have alot of fun playing Bounder, and the rogue had a blast cheating his way through the game. (True20's second Chance feat is awesome). Finally, they were asked to leave, allegedly because they had won too much money. Actually, it was because Lady Lucrecia had spotted them.

They awoke in the middle of the night to see Paradise sink under the lake after the fire. Already deeply suspicious, they learned that Lucrecia had left before the fire, towards the North.

Of course, the players have already guessed that Lucercia is none other than Xanesha, and they are itching for payback. On their way north, they got distracted by the bear and are now perfectly directed towards the Graul homestead. I think I'll have the ranger have been captured by the Graul's just when the PC's arrive, because she had gone ahead to investigate Fort Rannick.

Of course, the Deliverance soundtrack was playing loudly all during the battle with Ruckus, who finally abandoned his dogs and ran away.

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