Trial of the Beast (GM Reference)


Carrion Crown

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

There is another angle you could play: What if he wasn't allowed to resurrect her?

The simplest approach is to invoke the will of Pharasma. Pharasma is all about life and death occurring according to the ways of fate and the natural balance. Defying a death already happened is questionable at best, and certain priests, psychopomps, and the goddess herself might object to the way that a nobleman's resources effortlessly recant the death of his lady while any peasant husband must mourn the loss of his wife when harsh childbirth claims them.

If you don't mind spoilers from the Campaign Setting Book: Rule of Fear, you could darken the atmosphere and further develop the bleak and terrible moods that drive Caromarc's acts of monstrous creation:

Spoiler:
According to Rule of Fear, Caromarc was outraged at the overthrow of the aristocracy and his resulting loss of power. Apparently, the creation of the Beast was actually an act of revenge against one of the most important architects of the push toward Parliament, Dr. Henri Moritz. The Doctor was blamed for the creation of the monster that destroyed him, and up until the conclusion of Trial of the Beast, no-one knew Count Caromarc made him.

What if the loss of power in and of itself wasn't the reason behind such a terrible fury. What if the fall of aristocracy "caused the death of his beloved wife" by preventing him from resurrecting her?

Let's say he lost his son and wife to birth complication during the fall of nobility. Restriction closed rapidly around the power of the ruling class, binding up much of Caromarc's resources in struggling to maintain his status. Perhaps even worse, the proponents of the new egalitarian order leaned heavily on those who could have been his allies. Doubtlessly, Count Caromarc could have, would have spent every last copper from his vaults to save his wife, and more... but what if the insurrectionists got to the church? If they influenced high ranking church officials, if some of them were priests, they might have blocked the revival of his wife on the grounds that aristocrats deserved no greater exemption from the reality of death than the common folk, tragic or no.

How angry would that make Caromarc? Angry enough to plot murder? Angry enough to create a symbolic son to avenge the death of his symbolic mother?

... Only to realize he had created a son in fact and be too ashamed (for many reasons, not the least that he begot his son as an act of wrath,) to accept him.

Oh yes, there's a lot you can do with this if you like to ply a tragic mood.

Silver Crusade

Drakli wrote:
Thanks! I'm looking forward to the expression on their faces when I hand them the stats of the Beast (or Ven, as the party calls him,) for the night. :)
Quote:

Heh my players call him Ben. Funny old world...


Drakli wrote:

There is another angle you could play: What if he wasn't allowed to resurrect her?

The simplest approach is to invoke the will of Pharasma. Pharasma is all about life and death occurring according to the ways of fate and the natural balance. Defying a death already happened is questionable at best, and certain priests, psychopomps, and the goddess herself might object to the way that a nobleman's resources effortlessly recant the death of his lady while any peasant husband must mourn the loss of his wife when harsh childbirth claims them.

If you don't mind spoilers from the Campaign Setting Book: Rule of Fear, you could darken the atmosphere and further develop the bleak and terrible moods that drive Caromarc's acts of monstrous creation:

** spoiler omitted **...

I like the spoiler, and your ideas. Thanks.


ThornDJL7 wrote:
MythicFox wrote:


My real concern with the final fight (I'll be running the module soon-ish, but my group is in the last chunk of Haunting of Harrowstone) is the lightning. I mean, the tower's covered in lightning rods but every round one of the characters gets struck for 3d6? While fighting the Promethean? Even with the Reflex Save and the evasion for being hooked into the Bondslave Thrall, that just seems excessive to me. Have people just been handwaving that or what? I've considered instituting a random chance that none of the PCs or NPCs gets hit (and have ideas in mind for how to handle it), but I'm wondering how other GMs implemented that (if at all).
I am wondering what other's did/experienced as well.

So I ended up leaving the lightning largely cinematic. While my PC was attempting to activate the Bondslave Thrall I had lightning striking all around with a close call feeling as electricity arced all down the copper rods and across the roof's surface.

And then since I had one PC I was able to forget it all when she activated the machine. Instead I gave her all the emotions, motives, feelings, and complete control over the Beast.

The lightning was relevant to the cinema of the scene for maybe three rounds. It would have been utterly devastating to use it RAW.

If I had more than one PC I would have still had the controlling PC jump into the Beast in the same way. But any PCs standing around gawking instead of fighting would have been fair targets and/or treated to a descriptive scene where the lightning arced up through the machine into the controlling PC without actually causing damage.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
FallofCamelot wrote:


Heh my players call him Ben. Funny old world...

Heh, neat!

There's a bit of a story about how he got his name in my game. My players and their characters decided he needed a name to humanize him before the judges and courthouse, that being called The Beast was only hurting his case.

So, they had a jam session with the Beast, trying to brainstorm with him over what he'd like to be called, while fitting him for a poncho they were sewing together for him out of curtains, (They thought keeping him from going around shirtless would also make him more respectable. Yes, my group became rather attached to him.)

One of the characters asked him, "Well, what did your creator name you?"

The Beast paused for a moment, then said, "I remember he called me 'vengeance,' sometimes."

All the heroes just sort of looked at each other and said, "Ah, no, no, we can't use that," then one of them asked, "Well, how about Ven?"

He tried it out a few times, and liked it. :)


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:


I like the spoiler, and your ideas. Thanks.

You're welcome; and thanks too!

I think this is one of my favorite Pathfinder AP modules ever, so I've given a lot of thought into giving it a strong impact. There's a lot of tragedy going on within, but a lot of opportunities for the heroes right wrongs and reconcile if that's the sort of group you have... which I do.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Drakli wrote:
I think this is one of my favorite Pathfinder AP modules ever, so I've given a lot of thought into giving it a strong impact.

As a GM, it is one of my favorites too. There is so much intrigue and Count Frankenstein and his subtle impact across the countryside is very cool from a grand scope. However, my players found it pretty droll and wanted to speed through much of the trial. Then they got to Schloss Caromarc, and are loving the hell out of it.

Last night, they got to the Drowned Menagerie, and rather than worry about the pit traps and containment chambers, spent an entire day clearing out the stairwell. From the top, this place is a lot less fighty...

Anyway, from the upper floor they popped open the slime infected basilisk's chamber (i like to think its not alchemically enhanced, but aboleth slimed), saw nothing but an opposing door, closed it back. Opened the G-Varg's chamber, saw them, one initiative, killed one with sneak attacks, closed the door, and proceeded to abuse the vargs round by round through opening and closing the containment doors. They then levitated across the chamber and bashed in the containment door to the main cooridor. There, they sniped the plant monsters (no climb speeds, for the loss), then opened the door to the black pudding, saw it, closed the door and never looked back.

This hour sequence of "Epic Dungeon: BYPASSED!" was one of the best moments we've had yet in the campaign. Well, right up until they trip-locked the Guardian of the Tower and proceeded to wallop its slowed, prone self to death.


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Just a note on the girallon the painting: It's not all that strange. If you take a close look at Dutch still-lifes, you'll find they're full of little touches of corruption and death. Flies, rotting fruit, etc.

Well, perhaps it's still strange, but not unprecedented. :)

Silver Crusade

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Some great ideas regarding tweaking the ending. I am still pondering how to work that. I think that the PCs will actually LOVE controlling the beast.

I am looking for ways to work the Whispering Way more prominently into the story, which I think will be a better drive than helping the Beast, especially as the PCs have adopted Kendra, converted her to the Worship of Calistria, Goddess of Revenge, and sworn to help her hunt down the murdering Whispering Way folks.

I think this will be more motivating to my group than helping the beast.

Also, I'm not sure that they Beast as a Chld-like mind will work well with my group. It also removes some of the fear and ambiguity from the setting. I am thinking of running a classic Monster, as from the book, so he is highly intelligent but full of resentment at his creator and the world. The idea would be that when the PCs encounter the beast he is actually at the turning point, brooding on whether he should become the monster everyone thinks he is or not.

The motivation for the PCs would be slightly altered then as the Judge would be more concerned that the real killers are going free than sweating over the fate of the Sardonic Beast. Hopefully through exploring the 3 areas, the PCs will realize the Beast is innocent, and have more respect for him than the parental care feeling. Might be tricky, but I think will engage them more. Besides, if they screw it up and get the Beast convicted, then he has a very good reason for only being 2d4 rounds away - he's after the PCs for vengeance!

Just curious - has anyone else tried the classic Monster - intelligent & embittered? How did it go?


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Nath - I like your approach to the monster as more of a thinking entity, however I feel there is something in the "child like" aspect of his persona. Perhaps he is a thinking being, capable of reason and logic, but has never been taught the social expectations of society. This coupled with a innate inability to sort through feelings (becomes emotionally overwhelmed and incapable of restraint) might be the ticket.

Perhaps the Beast played as intelligent creature, but ruled by emotions and impulse would touch on all bases and provide a more memorable character for your group? I'm leaning toward this rout myself. Starting the adventure this Wed. so I'll check in and let you know how my group reacts to this interpretation.

Silver Crusade

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Yeah, fantastic, do let me know how it goes!

The more I am thinking about it, the more I think there will be some innocence and hurt in the beast, but he will do his best to cover it up and pretend that he does not care. Uncovering what happened to the little girl may get them inside his shell.

He will be confused and guilty, and hateful of his rages and the damage he does in them, so if they can reach out to him with the same sort of acceptance as his young child friend did, then they should be able to win him over, but he's going to be a tough sell.

I think I am going to play up the fact that he is making a decision... and may have allowed himself to be captured. He is biding his time, deciding what he wants to do about his "father", the townsfolk, the PCs, etc.

One other question: The Count! It says he created the Beast as an act of Vengeance - is there background for this somewhere? Is the count a bad dude? His castle would certainly suggest it, but I couldn't find much background on the count and how he was thought of by the people.


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The NPC Zbraslav Hora is kinda funny when you read it in swedish.
Bra Slav Hora= Good Slave Whore


Nathonicus wrote:
One other question: The Count! It says he created the Beast as an act of Vengeance - is there background for this somewhere? Is the count a bad dude? His castle would certainly suggest it, but I couldn't find much background on the count and how he was thought of by the people.

Rule of Fear, asides from having a pretty awesome picture of the Count, provides some details -- while he willing abdicated rulership of the Vieland area, he also resented having to do so. His wife died in childbirth along with the child around this time, and the Count created the Beast to express his grief and rage.

The beast being a sentient creature instead of a mindless weapon derailed the Count's plan to have a remote controlled killing machine, and he's mellowed out somewhat since then.

The people of Vieland have no clue that their the former Count is a mad scientist who spends all day making monsters. The common people think of him as a wealthy recluse, without the vaguest clue that the Count's the most dangerous thing in the province.


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Below are some changes I made to TotB. These changes were made to replace some aspects of the adventure I felt my group would not enjoy or that I felt did not fit:

This is a GM thread so I won't spoiler tag anything, players beware.

1. I removed all the "Crooked Kin" stuff from the start of the adventure. It just seemed weird, arbitrary, and out of place to me. Instead I used the river journey portion (only) of "River into Darkness" to detail a river boat ride from near Ravengro to Lepidstadt. Check out the module, it worked pretty well and the protean engine stuff fits in nicely with Ustalv. I used the "drug and addiction" rules from the GMG and made the crew of the riverboat drug runners (which, to me, does not make them criminals in Ustalav, just opportunistic). Of course they offered some samples to the PCs during the ride, some of whom became addicted. Fun stuff.

2. I made the Beast intelligent and (to the PCs) scheming, knowing more then he lets on. He flat out tells the PCs he is not guilty of the crimes he is on trial for but is also not an innocent. He explains his "father" has a way of controlling him from a distance that he can't fight and he has done some bad things in the past in this state. He has no remorse about it though as he cares more for his father than anyone else. Although he can't control his actions while under this power, he does know who is controlling him. During the University break in he knows someone else was controlling him, not his father, some kind of cultist that spoke in whispers. This has never happened to him before and he feels it means bad news for his father. He says no more unless freed from captivity. He won't tell the PCs who his father is or where his father is until freed. He also says he needs their help in one final task that he will not detail until set free.

I removed the beasts barbarian levels (just seemed goofy, I don't like when monsters have player character levels) and his "Open Mind (Ex)" ability so the PCs can't interrogate him magically and just made him an intelligent advanced Flesh Golem. I also removed all his magic items since if he had these on his person when he broke into the university they would have been confiscated anyway and most likely never given back. If he didn't have them on his person, well why wouldn't he? It just seems weird that this flesh golem (especially a not so smart one as originally written) would have these magic items stashed away then retrieve them at the end game. Really weird stuff here, better to just axe it all.

3. The rest of the adventure flows pretty much as written until we get to the very end. The only significant change I made to the investigations was that the Beast was never present at any of the crime scenes. He never did the cheesy "return the broken body laughing/crying" thing.

4. After the trial the Beast exits the courtroom and immediately heads to the Schloss, if found innocent he tells the PCs that if they want to know who was controlling him they need to get to the Schloss. He will head there now and deal with his "brother" while the PCs find and destroy the device (the task he mentioned when they first met) that allows others to control him so no one can ever control him again. The Beast doesn't know where this device is, what it is, or how to destroy it.

If found guilty he does the same, attacking anything that gets in his way. No one in the court dares to fight the Beast and if the PCs try to (with no weapons or magic since the court confiscates these things before each trial day) his only goal is to escape overrunning and bull rushing until he is dead or escapes. All the while raging about getting to the Schloss and saving his father. The PCs can detect that he is holding back and not really trying to kill them with appropriate Sense Motive checks. If the PCs do manage to kill the beast they can infer where his father is from his ranting during the fight or from the poems he wrote in his poetry book during his captivity. Otherwise the Beast offers no help to the PCs and heads to the Schloss without speaking to them.

5. I toned downed the Promethean a bit (or as I refer to him: the Beasts brother) so the PCs can handle it in a tough fight alone if need be. With the Beast in its new state of no magic and no barbarian levels it can serve as an NPC with the party, be somewhere in the Schloss ahead or behind the party, or not there at all, it doesn't really matter at this point. The end game plays out pretty much as written except the PCs do not have the ability to use the Bondslave device, it's just beyond their knowledge. Once the Count is freed the PCs learn the info they need to continue on the adventure as written. If the Beast survives he asks the PCs to destroy the Bondslave (or does it himself). While the Bondslave is being dismantled it has a "Flowers for Algernon" effect on the Beast until he is finally and permanently reduced to an unintelligent construct, the lifespark gone forever. The last bit of poetry the Beast wrote (found on his person) indicates he knew this would be the result of destroying the machine all along.

Silver Crusade

Cibet44, thanks for sharing, those give me some really good ideas.

The Crooked Kin is very arbitrary, but thankfully my players have created a blood-feud with a group of Varisian Circus performers, so they will encounter the kin at a sort of Jamboree meeting at the cross roads of various traveling groups, giving me the opportunity to infiltrate the festivities with b ad guys.

I like your take on the beast, and toning down both the beast and the promethean sounds like a good idea, though I am not sure I want to remove the possibility of using the bondslave all together. Sound like solid changes overall.


can someone help me? i'm not finding the diplomacy cheks DC to present evidence sucessfully xD

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

kreien wrote:
can someone help me? i'm not finding the diplomacy cheks DC to present evidence sucessfully xD

The base DC is 20, modified by the quality of the evidence. The full rules for presenting evidence is in the section entitled "Presenting Evidence" on page 37.


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I'm finding the trial a day schedule a little taxing. Game feels a little rushed. Foe example, the PC's didnt feel they had time to wait around until night fall to investigate the "night ghosts" - after encountering two of the "children" and investigating the in bed death, they felt they had enough, or were running out of time.

Also, they would also be faced with a choice -investigate vorkstags or go to the sanctuary if I didn't delay the trial schedule.

If I ran this again I would either stress time and push for all night rides and no sleeping, or space the court dates out by a day or so. As it is, I'm using the mob attack as a reason to delay the 3rd day of trial. Which seemed to make sense, esp. since the party prematurely torched the punishing man....

Overall the players are loving it.


Czar wrote:
I'm using the mob attack as a reason to delay the 3rd day of trial.

This is a good idea, I think I will steal it.

I just started running this and left off with the part enroute to the first investigation site... but they haven't had time to hit the university or really get to know the city at all. I am feeling like they may miss out because of the rushed schedule.

Given the chance I would have inserted a few days prior to the trial... at least one in town before getting the quests (maybe have the judge recall them if they have already turned in the books) and at least one or two to check out initial evidence.

Sean Mahoney

Silver Crusade

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Good point - I think I'll add a day for them to deliver the books and do some sight-seeing, maybe get a view of the punishing man before they know why it's there - and get in a quarrel with some student duellists!


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Czar wrote:

I'm finding the trial a day schedule a little taxing. Game feels a little rushed. Foe example, the PC's didnt feel they had time to wait around until night fall to investigate the "night ghosts" - after encountering two of the "children" and investigating the in bed death, they felt they had enough, or were running out of time.

Also, they would also be faced with a choice -investigate vorkstags or go to the sanctuary if I didn't delay the trial schedule.

If I ran this again I would either stress time and push for all night rides and no sleeping, or space the court dates out by a day or so. As it is, I'm using the mob attack as a reason to delay the 3rd day of trial. Which seemed to make sense, esp. since the party prematurely torched the punishing man....

Overall the players are loving it.

Just keep in mind the Count is locked in an iron maiden and the Whispering Way cultists are already on the way to Ascanor and beyond so you don't want to delay the trial much. The whole point of wrapping things up in 3 or 4 days, I believe, is precisely because of these two things.


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As I mentioned in another thread I am inserting the Feast of Ravenmoor into the game to give the party some cool down before the race continues and I'm downplaying some of the timing for Trial of the Beast so that the party can get to explore a very interesting location (Lepidstadt) before being dragged off.

The party returns from Ravengro (and splits up, some returning to their work at the Lepidstadt University and others continuing on) and returns the Manual of the Palatine Eye to Judge Daramid. Using some of the background information from the Rule of Fear (about how dysfunctional the Vieland Council is) I'm portraying her as a canny old woman who is sick of how poorly the county is being run and, as someone who has amassed a personal fortune, who is willing to work around the system to get things done.

Needing useful assistants and having heard about the events at Ravengro, she asks them to search for a missing tax collector (The Feast of Ravenmoor)and has already already collected a lot of background on the man. She is concerned he has absconded with the tax money but wants to be certain before she alerts County and regional authorities.

The group heads to Ravenmoor and I will run things there exactly as written in the module (Location: the village is in the Dipplemere).

Their success with this mission is what then prompts her to hire them to assist the defense.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Should I be concerned, wealth-wise, considering most of the treasure in the Shloss belongs to the Count and my player's characters are largely Lawful and don't want to loot the place?


Drakli wrote:
Should I be concerned, wealth-wise, considering most of the treasure in the Shloss belongs to the Count and my player's characters are largely Lawful and don't want to loot the place?

Probably. My player (singular) was a little below WPL after going through Castle Frankenstein, I mean Caromarc. And that was with essentially two PCs. My problem was how my PCs went through the castle (quite a few monsters ended up falling off cliffs or lured into rooms) and not just that they considered it bad form to steal chandeliers.

Think how your players will and figure out how far behind they might be, if at all. Then you can adjust monster gear and Caromarc's direct rewards as needed.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

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Drakli wrote:
Should I be concerned, wealth-wise, considering most of the treasure in the Shloss belongs to the Count and my player's characters are largely Lawful and don't want to loot the place?

In a word, Yes. You'll need to add in about 24K of loot in another form for them (assuming 4 PCs).

See Ice Titan's analysis here


Quick tip - My players were sure vorstag ang grine created the beast, and totally werned getting the skin stealer angle.

One could have the words "skin stealer" or "wears the skin" in the burned safe at Dr. Brada's place if your players are having a similar misunderstanding.


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This is a letter my group found in the Living Museum near the mummy. Just another way to tie the campaign together:

My Dear Count,
I have enjoyed our most recent discourse on the nature of the spontaneous creation of certain types of undead. In my many years of study on the subject, I have also attempted to discern the secrets from my own study of Osirian remains, those hulking mummies so prevalent in that desert environ. Perhaps when I travel back to the north country I will regale you with stories of my exploits in that dusty land. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed your company in person. Although I have grown greatly from the student I once was, the time I shared with you and Petros in study and event disagreement is one I shall always cherish.
However, I digress from the purpose of this current missive. Some retainers of mine have business in Lepidstadt in the coming weeks, and I was hoping to impose upon your intellect and unique point of view. They will be carrying a rather curious Tome, and I would love to have your learned opinion of it. If it is not too much of an imposition, please expect visitors toward the end of the month.
Regards,
Adivion Adrissant

Since his endgame is so close, he is not worried about offending the Count by having his agents take control of the Beast and lock up the count.


Czar wrote:

I'm finding the trial a day schedule a little taxing. Game feels a little rushed. Foe example, the PC's didnt feel they had time to wait around until night fall to investigate the "night ghosts" - after encountering two of the "children" and investigating the in bed death, they felt they had enough, or were running out of time.

Also, they would also be faced with a choice -investigate vorkstags or go to the sanctuary if I didn't delay the trial schedule.

If I ran this again I would either stress time and push for all night rides and no sleeping, or space the court dates out by a day or so. As it is, I'm using the mob attack as a reason to delay the 3rd day of trial. Which seemed to make sense, esp. since the party prematurely torched the punishing man....

Overall the players are loving it.

Yea...the players are meant to feel rushed and have the comfort of a good night's sleep pulled from under them. And the authorities want the trial over and done with ASAP...The Beast is guilty in their eyes and the trial is just for show...


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Spacelard wrote:
Czar wrote:

I'm finding the trial a day schedule a little taxing. Game feels a little rushed. Foe example, the PC's didnt feel they had time to wait around until night fall to investigate the "night ghosts" - after encountering two of the "children" and investigating the in bed death, they felt they had enough, or were running out of time.

Also, they would also be faced with a choice -investigate vorkstags or go to the sanctuary if I didn't delay the trial schedule.

If I ran this again I would either stress time and push for all night rides and no sleeping, or space the court dates out by a day or so. As it is, I'm using the mob attack as a reason to delay the 3rd day of trial. Which seemed to make sense, esp. since the party prematurely torched the punishing man....

Overall the players are loving it.

Yea...the players are meant to feel rushed and have the comfort of a good night's sleep pulled from under them. And the authorities want the trial over and done with ASAP...The Beast is guilty in their eyes and the trial is just for show...

I thought the compressed timeline was the best aspect of the adventure and highly recommend GMs keep it to the 3 days for the trial. The players get to deal with a lack of sleep, sometimes a lack of spells or at least use of spells they normally wouldn't use as much (like the cleric using 3 or 4 lesser restorations a day to remove fatigue). It was a great change up and my players liked it a lot. The pattern was basically: investigate a site at night, try to squeeze in a few hours of rest, then trial, then back out to investigate with restorative magic in between. The whole adventure took only 5 or 6 "in game" days but several weeks of actual playing time over many sessions, a good juxtaposition from the norm. Not to mention the Count is locked in a coffin the entire time so a compressed timeline is essential.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For the Count not raising his dead wife, it could have been that he did not want the gods help, and wished to have the power of life and death (without being a cleric and having to serve them).

Brodyz wrote:

This is a letter my group found in the Living Museum near the mummy. Just another way to tie the campaign together...

I was going to do something similar in later parts of the adventure, though towards the PCs (like the 'Dr. Lecter writing to Clarice Starling' example), but that's also a great idea. Myself, I'm leaving out his name entirely, and give initials, just in case.

Sczarni

Czar wrote:

Quick tip - My players were sure vorstag ang grine created the beast, and totally werned getting the skin stealer angle.

One could have the words "skin stealer" or "wears the skin" in the burned safe at Dr. Brada's place if your players are having a similar misunderstanding.

My players have a similar misconception, and it's too late for me to implement your fix.

I have given them some clues that V&G don't know anything about Flesh Golems (otherwise, why would they need to keep their hound locked up and muzzled?), but I'm going to hve to work a little bit to foreshadow the idea that Carromarc is the Beast's actual creator. I'm thinking some of the rabble-rousing speeches given by the lynch mob might mention his name...and maybe Vorkstag is there in the crowd in disguise stirring up the mob...?


Trinite wrote:
Czar wrote:

Quick tip - My players were sure vorstag ang grine created the beast, and totally werned getting the skin stealer angle.

One could have the words "skin stealer" or "wears the skin" in the burned safe at Dr. Brada's place if your players are having a similar misunderstanding.

My players have a similar misconception, and it's too late for me to implement your fix.

I have given them some clues that V&G don't know anything about Flesh Golems (otherwise, why would they need to keep their hound locked up and muzzled?), but I'm going to hve to work a little bit to foreshadow the idea that Carromarc is the Beast's actual creator. I'm thinking some of the rabble-rousing speeches given by the lynch mob might mention his name...and maybe Vorkstag is there in the crowd in disguise stirring up the mob...?

Dont bother. My players where on the same option. It hit them hard and nice after the trial WHO actually was "Father". So just let them go on...more fun later

Sczarni

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Windspirit wrote:


Dont bother. My players where on the same option. It hit them hard and nice after the trial WHO actually was "Father". So just let them go on...more fun later

Well, except the things was, they'd never even heard Caromarc's name mentioned before. Sure, he's in the Player's Guide (I think), but he literally had had no effect on the campaign whatsoever yet.

So if I had just waited until after the trial, when the beast said "Caromarc," the players would have said, "Who?" I don't think that would have been much fun.

So instead, before the crowd attacks the courthouse, a big burly farmer makes an impassioned speech about how the nobles are using the Beast's trial to try to undermine the freedom of Vieland (Adivion had used his influence and some old laws to get the PCs put on the defense team, since one of the PCs is from an extinct noble house and Advion respects her). He talks about how they drove Count Caromarc away "to cower inside his house," and now they're going to take matters into their own hands to ensure justice is done against the Beast.

And after the mob fight, the PCs discover an empty human skin that looks exactly like the farmer's...


Trinite wrote:


So if I had just waited until after the trial, when the beast said "Caromarc," the players would have said, "Who?" I don't think that would have been much fun.

nice...

I introduced him when the players found the Beast Poetry Book. It had an Ex-Libris stemp in it with A.C and the players put some time in figuring out WHERE it came from.


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I had the Crooked Kin decide to profit from the Beast-mania in Lepistadt by staging their own version of the Beast's story. They quizzed locals to get the most popular accounts of the Beast's creation and all his major crimes. They even tried to recruit one of the PCs (a 7-ft half-orc monk) to play the Beast.

The PCs were mostly too busy investigating Morast etc. to even stop and wonder who created the Beast. But as soon as they saw (and participated in) the performance, they began taking copious notes about "this Caromac guy." Right now, they still think V&G are prime suspects (they haven't entered the Chymic Works yet), but they plan to investigate Schloss Caromac when they have time. So, basically, perfect.

(Incidentally, the half-orc performer broke from his script to tell a more sympathetic version of events in Hergstag and Sanctuary. This infuriated the Crooked Kin, but I let it benefit them in the fight against the mob, since he managed to convince a few citizens that the Beast might not be such a villain.)


My brother ran as GM the first part of "Carrion Crown" and I was very pleased with the story, backround and story. Well written and thrilling.

"Trial of the Beast" is a bit disappointing for me as a GM, especially the Development of the story and the introduction of the "Beast".

Beast: From the beginning my players got scent of the innocence of the Beast an I never had the chance to let them get a feeling of horror of a constructed human beeing. The golem was introduced to soon, it could have been a extrem strong man a mutant etc.

Development: My group is neither a police squat nor a mercenary team so I had problems to motivate them to investigate die three sites in which the Beast was accused to kill innocent victims.
I was forced to reduce the "judge show" part and arrange for an investigation of the Seasage Effigy and the masterminds of the theft (I constructet a plot that was inspired by Agatha Christie).

The most problematic part was getting the players to Castle Caromark because in the first part the golem didn't want to speak of his creator/father and afterwards he bluntly invited the adventureres to him. My players saw no point in going to him because he had - from their point of view - nothing to to with the theft.

I liked the adventure, but some parts of it, mostly the transitions, were a bit to rough and bumpy.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

Windspirit wrote:
Trinite wrote:


So if I had just waited until after the trial, when the beast said "Caromarc," the players would have said, "Who?" I don't think that would have been much fun.

nice...

I introduced him when the players found the Beast Poetry Book. It had an Ex-Libris stemp in it with A.C and the players put some time in figuring out WHERE it came from.

Oh .. I like that!

Sczarni

gbonehead wrote:
Windspirit wrote:
Trinite wrote:


So if I had just waited until after the trial, when the beast said "Caromarc," the players would have said, "Who?" I don't think that would have been much fun.

nice...

I introduced him when the players found the Beast Poetry Book. It had an Ex-Libris stemp in it with A.C and the players put some time in figuring out WHERE it came from.

Oh .. I like that!

Oh yeah, that's a great touch. I wish I had used that. :)

I didn't think it made sense for the Beast to just flat-out tell them who its father was, but my players were interested enough that they just straight up tracked the Beast when he left town after the trial (the witch's fox familiar has the Scent ability, which made it reasonable). They eventually lost track of him, but not before he had led them up the river into the daunting environs of the Schloss Caromarc...

Next session we commence the dungeon crawl!


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Rob McCreary wrote:
The adventure is designed so that the trial can take up as much space and time as your group would like. It is mandatory in that it is the background for the entire adventure, but it can be reduced to just a few skill rolls each day in between investigating and fighting. OTOH, if your group wants to roleplay out the trial, it can be expanded to allow that too.

I will be expanding it as this is similar to a scene in another campaign which half my players were there for and enjoyed.

As such I will be having the PCs acting as barristers and investigators. Although first

Spoiler:
They’ll have to convince the Beast to accept them as his solicitors and to put in a plea of not guilty. This will be one of the greatest challenges they face in this case. The Beast has been reading the Bone Lands in a Spiral and believes he is an abomination. One of our players is an Oracle of Pharasma so he may be inclined to agree at first, but will eventually be the key to convincing the Beast to accept life and embrace it.

Otherwise if they fail to do this before the court case, they can act as his solicitors and stall for time as they try to convince him to change his plea.

When they make their motion in court to become the Beast's barristers, they will make the current lawyer quite angry. He remains on counsel and getting paid, but only if the PCs forfeit their court appointed pay. Otherwise he'll object strenuously to getting thrown off and have the support of the prosecutor.

After they're hired on a solicitor will approach them and ask the players if they truly believe their client is innocent. When they say yes, he will chuckle and offer them some advice:
1. Get all the papers and work off the Beast’s current solicitor and then tell him he doesn't need to do anything until the court proceedings start. He’s only in it for the money and will simply get in the way of the PCs.
2. Hire a private investigator. Don’t concentrate on just the evidence, but look into the witnesses. Find ways to discredit them (one of my PCs is a member of the Sleepless Agency and so this is a chance for him to shine).
3. Hire someone who actually knows the ins and outs of the courtroom.

At that last point he smiles at them and then simply walks off. The PCs will have the opportunity to engage in his services.

The Barrister will offer the following suggestions:
• Don’t have anyone acting as a solicitor that you might want to call as a witness. All solicitors must be registered and cannot give testimony in court.
• Get a scholar’s outfit for each of the solicitors. You’re expected to have one when acting as a barrister.
• Stall, stall and stall. Ask to bring in expert witnesses from afar. Do everything you can to stall for time while the investigation takes place.
• Investigate all of the witnesses. Ask for anything that might discredit them.
• Go to the crime scenes and see what evidence can be discovered.
• Among solicitors there’s a term called “Plan B” which involves pinning the crime on someone else. It isn’t important who did the crime, as long as the jury believes it wasn’t your client.
• If you can, investigate the jury. This can help tell you where their sympathies lie. Do they have any biases? If so, these can be exploited in the courtroom.
• In the courtroom don’t object to what the prosecutor says or does unless you absolutely have to. It makes juries think you have something to hide.
• If you’re desperate, bribe the jury. Plant evidence that discredits one of them. If you manage to get three jury members thrown off the panel then that will result in a mistrial.
• Do not use magic in the courtroom. Use it in your investigations, but you need to either trick the witness or present evidence in court. You cannot call in experts who testify to using magics which would impinge on someone’s personal freedoms. Detect Evil and Detect Lies cannot be presented as evidence in a court case.
• The barrister will not act as a barrister in court, but will simply be in the public stands. He claims it’s because he’s retired and doesn’t want his reputation tarnished.
• If you can't win the jury over, make them hate the prosecutor.

The purpose of the friendly barrister is to give the PCs the chance to ask any questions about court proceedings that they might have. The PCs may also fall into a few traps where they think they need to prove the beast is innocent, get caught up only making knowledge checks and generally not treat this like a courtroom, instead treating it like a 4th ed skill challenge.

I also plan on having the prosecutor basically testify via questions. Stuff like "Now Mr. Prosecutors Witness. Is it not true that you're sole old grandma saw the defendent carrying some corpses from the local graveyard? And upon seeing this she clutched her chest falling to the ground crying out in pain and you rant to her side to hear her dying decleration of The Beast. The Beast is back?"

I don't want the PCs complaining about the prosecutor leading the witness because I don't want to have to do a back and forth with witnesses and the prosecution, doing different funny voices each time. If the PCs don't object then he gets to do a narrative with his questions. However this does allow the PCs to do the exact same thing when they question a witness.

I'm basing the courtroom off Australia's legal system and courtroom setup due to the fact that the Palatinates are still loyal to the crown despite being democracies (much like Canada and Australia).

Is there any other advice or possible actions the PCs could make that I've failed to take into consideration?

Also, what are some delaying motions they could make? I want the PCs to have as much time as they feel they need to do the investigation portion of the mod. They can delay:
* DC 10: 2 days
* DC 15: 4 days
* DC 20: 6 days
* DC 25: 9 days

to get caught up on the case. But what's some more motions they could put forth? I'm thinking:
* Sentiency test. The creature must be sentient to stand trial. But is he truly sentient? Or does he simply mimic intelligence? This can give them 2 to 3 days more delay if they think of it.

I can also use the barrister to suggest some of these if they're really struggling. As in the case is about to start and they've done NO investigation.

Steel_Wind wrote:
A clue/evidence based adventure where the real "fun" of the adventure is figuring out how the clues all fit to reveal the truth is seriously undermined by DCs for finding the clues which are much too high to be practically accessible to a 4th level party at anything approaching a reliably good chance.

That's another reason for me to change the adventure to emphasise the trial. It gives the PCs alternate avenues. If they don't meet the DCs, they still stand a good chance at winning the trial.

Brodyz wrote:

This is a letter my group found in the Living Museum near the mummy. Just another way to tie the campaign together:

My Dear Count,
I have enjoyed our most recent discourse on the nature of the spontaneous creation of certain types of undead. In my many years of study on the subject, I have also attempted to discern the secrets from my own study of Osirian remains, those hulking mummies so prevalent in that desert environ. Perhaps when I travel back to the north country I will regale you with stories of my exploits in that dusty land. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed your company in person. Although I have grown greatly from the student I once was, the time I shared with you and Petros in study and event disagreement is one I shall always cherish.
However, I digress from the purpose of this current missive. Some retainers of mine have business in Lepidstadt in the coming weeks, and I was hoping to impose upon your intellect and unique point of view. They will be carrying a rather curious Tome, and I would love to have your learned opinion of it. If it is not too much of an imposition, please expect visitors toward the end of the month.
Regards,
Adivion Adrissant

Since his endgame is so close, he is not worried about offending the Count by having his agents take control of the Beast and lock up the count.

Ooooh! This gives me an idea

Spoiler:
Adivion Adrissant is a member of the Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye.

He has an Exhibition doing the rounds of Osirion Goods. He funded an expedition into Northern Garund and now these goods are travelling throughout the major cities of Ustalav and was planning on being shown throughout the entire Inner Sea. Adrissant is rather busy so he isn't personally overseeing the exhibition. But instead has a curator overseeing it with Adrissant's name prominantly mentioned.

Unfortunately my PCs didn't get to meet Adrissant in Haunting of Harrowstone because they didn't attend the service after the funeral very much. So this would be a great way to have him mentioned, if not seen.


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We haven't gotten here yet, but I'm looking ahead and I have some questions about the Hergstag encounters.

1) Have your PCs had difficulty with Hergstag? There are an awful lot of wraiths there and not many magic weapons among the party at this point. I'm thinking of giving them a Kn (Religion) check after interrogating the witnesses to realize that it might be a good idea to stock up on holy water before going to the village. A fairly easy check since they've fought at least one incorporeal undead before.

2) Scenario:

A PC has gotten himself trapped in quicksand. There is a wraith in the quicksand too, and it attacks him without coming to the surface. Do you count the quicksand as a solid object and give the wraith a 50% miss chance as usual for attacking from within a solid object? I'm inclined to lower it to a 20% miss chance because quicksand ain't exactly solid, but ain't exactly clear.

3) Do wraith spawn have the Create Spawn ability, or do they need to be full wraiths for that?


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Tinalles wrote:
1) Have your PCs had difficulty with Hergstag? There are an awful lot of wraiths there and not many magic weapons among the party at this point. I'm thinking of giving them a Kn (Religion) check after interrogating the witnesses to realize that it might be a good idea to stock up on holy water before going to the village. A fairly easy check since they've fought at least one incorporeal undead before.

We had little difficulty. But then my PCs didn't even try to go through all the wraiths. They hung around exactly long enough to get the information they needed and then rode off. They defeated something like 2 wrath spawn and never encountered the head dude.

Tinalles wrote:

2) Scenario:

A PC has gotten himself trapped in quicksand. There is a wraith in the quicksand too, and it attacks him without coming to the surface. Do you count the quicksand as a solid object and give the wraith a 50% miss chance as usual for attacking from within a solid object? I'm inclined to lower it to a 20% miss chance because quicksand ain't exactly solid, but ain't exactly clear.

In this case, be nice. The PC is already stuck in quicksand. And quicksand is pretty damned opaque. Call it a solid object. Otherwise one or two good hits from the wraith spawn and it's not going to matter what kind of a swim check the PC makes.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A question - I didn't mention to my players that they had to succeed at least 12 Diplomacy checks for the trial; we're now coming to the third day of the trial (haven't visited the Chymic works, mob event, or Sanctuary yet), and they've only made 6 Diplomacy checks thus far.

If they make up to, say, 8-9 checks, what should the outcome be? Should I count the remainder as 'failed', or adjust the needed checks?


DeciusNero wrote:

A question - I didn't mention to my players that they had to succeed at least 12 Diplomacy checks for the trial; we're now coming to the third day of the trial (haven't visited the Chymic works, mob event, or Sanctuary yet), and they've only made 6 Diplomacy checks thus far.

If they make up to, say, 8-9 checks, what should the outcome be? Should I count the remainder as 'failed', or adjust the needed checks?

Up to you. Do you feel they argued the case well enough? Have you instilled enough doubt in the mind of a thinking man? How well they do and what the outcome is should be up to your GM, meaning (presumably) you.

Only 6 checks wouldn't be enough IMO. But say they miss the Chymic works, they'll have a hard time coming up with 10 much less 12. The point of the trial is to prove the beast's innocence, not V&G's guilt. If you feel they do that successfully then they should be able to win the rewards.

Grand Lodge

I love to hand out pictures of people and items the player meet/find.
The crooked Kin gives me a hard time.
I have been surfing a lot of carnival and freak websites lately but none of the images really fit them.
Does anybody have used pictures of them and would share?

Sovereign Court

DeciusNero wrote:

A question - I didn't mention to my players that they had to succeed at least 12 Diplomacy checks for the trial; we're now coming to the third day of the trial (haven't visited the Chymic works, mob event, or Sanctuary yet), and they've only made 6 Diplomacy checks thus far.

If they make up to, say, 8-9 checks, what should the outcome be? Should I count the remainder as 'failed', or adjust the needed checks?

Well since they haven't faced the Mob scene they still have life in them. The mob event happens the 2nd night of the trial so you have to run it before day 3. If the party stops the mob without killing anyone they reduce the number of checks to 10.

But if they have either ignored the time constraints and neglected to investigate the Sanctuary and thewy don't have enough evidence to present let them lose the Trial. The module goes on either way. It will be a good lesson for them to realize their choices have consequences... at least toward their reputations!

--Vrock Trial


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Do folks think that it is easy for the PCs to avoid Tamiravana on the way from Ravengro to Lepidstadt? There is a half-orc in the party, so it is best for them to bypass Tamiravana, based on the description of the place in Rule of Fear. Can they just go off the road and go around it? Do they need to find some other way to cross the river, or can they cross the river at Tamiravana without having to be scrutinized? Finally, do you all have any thoughts about Courtard? I didn't see anything about that place in Rule of Fear. Thanks!


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Voomer wrote:
Do folks think that it is easy for the PCs to avoid Tamiravana on the way from Ravengro to Lepidstadt?

I would say that should be possible. Would make for some very nice roleplay. Trying to cross a river (Riding, Swiming, Survilal checks). Also I would def put in an encounter with a hostile Tamiravana patrol...always good for some nice hostilities.

Also THAT way they can meet the Kin, as they will also try to avoid this city.

Sovereign Court

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I actually used Tamrivena to foreshadow the basic theme in Trial of the Beast. The Crooked Kin and your half-orc PC are freaks and some persecution by the Wallguard of Tamrivena against them will reinforce the idea that not everything that looks monstrous is evil, in fact humans or society can be even more evil than monsters! It really is a gift you can use to not only practice some Diplomacy which is so key in the Trial, but it allows you to drop hints about later aspects of the campaign...

Spoiler:
One of the members of Canterwall's Palatine council is the changeling NPC described in Rule of Fear. You could use her as another reinforcement that all that is monstrous is not necessarily evil. She could also be the daughter of one of the Hags in Ashes at Dawn. A name drop here could connect the dots of the larger goings on in Ustalav when the PCs reach it later.

--Vrocky Horror


King of Vrock wrote:
I actually used Tamrivena to foreshadow the basic theme in Trial of the Beast. The Crooked Kin and your half-orc PC are freaks and some persecution by the Wallguard of Tamrivena against them will reinforce the idea that not everything that looks monstrous is evil, in fact humans or society can be even more evil than monsters! It really is a gift you can use to not only practice some Diplomacy which is so key in the Trial, but it allows you to drop hints about later aspects of the campaign...

That's certainly a really interesting idea, but, as written up in Rule of Fear, I think a visit to the city would mostly be a hassle and a distraction (especially since we don't have an enormous amount of playing time, so I don't want to too much delay getting to Lepidstadt). Plus, my PCs will ask about the town in preparing for the trip and decide to avoid Tamrivena on their own once I describe what is happening there. But perhaps I could draw some of that out in my description of the place.

Looking at the map, it appears the PCs could cross the river at "Clover's Crossing" and then just avoid the city altogether because the road would take them a bit north of Tamrivena. I do like Windspirit's idea of an encounter with a Tamrivena patrol, and working in some bonding with the Crooked Kin over the whole thing. I'm also considering an encounter with a raiding orc party along the way.

What do we know about Courtaud?

Sovereign Court

Courtaud is pretty pastoral. Think sprawling country estates and dairy farms tucked between the Tusk mountains and the Shudderwood.

I dropped a short encounter with a solitary druid whos sole purpose is to watch over the sealed well in town (see Rule of Fear). Basically throwing some foreshadowing of the ancient Kellid spookiness surrounding the menhirs and standing stones scattered throughout Ustalav and an opportunity for the Spirit Ranger PC to get his bow enhanced.

--Vrocky lowlands

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