Concerned about the Caravan


Jade Regent

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Liberty's Edge

Starfury wrote:

I'm looking into running this AP for my players, but I'm concerned about a potential issue. I was wondering if any GM's had encountered this or had reasonable solutions for it. (Or maybe it isn't a problem at all.)

** spoiler omitted **

It's kinda late for me, so my brain is a bit fuzzy, but seems like this was addressed somewhere in the module.

I wouldn't really have a problem letting them take a ship to Brinewall, they'd just have to come back to Sandpoint to start the caravan. I'd imagine there would be a few people, like Ameiko especially, who would have unfinished business back home that they needed to tend to before leaving maybe forever.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Starfury wrote:

I'm looking into running this AP for my players, but I'm concerned about a potential issue. I was wondering if any GM's had encountered this or had reasonable solutions for it. (Or maybe it isn't a problem at all.)

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
Page 24 of the module, upper left page: "If the PCs suggest taking a boat to Brinewall instead, Ameiko points out that not only would that be more expensive (considering she’s already got allies who own a caravan), but they’re unlikely to find anyone willing to set sail for the notorious ruin anyway."
Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
logic_poet wrote:


Back in the ancient days, when everything was rolled for character generation, Traveller had a table for what side effects befell your character when he woke from suspended animation at the end of char gen/start of play. The idea was that the subluminal ship arrived at the campaign star, revived him/her along with the other passengers, and then you began. Roll poorly, and all the work of rolling before that was wasted, because he woke up dead.

You are mixing 2 games I think. Traveller has FTL drives (and suspended animation).

During character generation if you were following some dangerous profession you had to pass a survival roll every 4 years of your term of service. That was a way to limit the number of older and more skileld characters.

In Megatravelelr it was changed so that it was a wound grievous enough to get you dismissed from service.


Thanks, EtsuElfRanger and magnuskn, much appreciated!


Diego Rossi wrote:
logic_poet wrote:


Back in the ancient days, when everything was rolled for character generation, Traveller had a table for what side effects befell your character when he woke from suspended animation at the end of char gen/start of play. The idea was that the subluminal ship arrived at the campaign star, revived him/her along with the other passengers, and then you began. Roll poorly, and all the work of rolling before that was wasted, because he woke up dead.

You are mixing 2 games I think. Traveller has FTL drives (and suspended animation).

During character generation if you were following some dangerous profession you had to pass a survival roll every 4 years of your term of service. That was a way to limit the number of older and more skileld characters.

In Megatravelelr it was changed so that it was a wound grievous enough to get you dismissed from service.

LOL, reminds me of cyberpunk.

You are from a, not wealthy, but certainly quite well doing family. Your parents bought you a flat. Worth around 150.000 eb. You have a job at arasaka paying 5000eb/mo. Just like your dad and mom who also work for arasaka.

...150k? Sure? awesome... ill sell it and get a fullbody cybernetic conversion. Realskin ofcourse. But stats at superhumanlevels*3 ..and running faster than most cars. Along with other cybernetic enhancements ill be a superior worker. Mom and dad will be so proud! :D

...err...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Starfury wrote:

I'm looking into running this AP for my players, but I'm concerned about a potential issue. I was wondering if any GM's had encountered this or had reasonable solutions for it. (Or maybe it isn't a problem at all.)

** spoiler omitted **

The cost, for one thing. The caravan is free; it's hard to beat that cost with ship travel.

That said, you can also have a storm hit the region as well, or increase pirate/Linnorm raids in the gulf—both of those could shut down sea travel.

And THAT said... if the PCs really want to travel to Brinewall via ship... first off, they won't save THAT much time (and since time's not an issue, they don't have to race in the first place) since they have to sail around a lot of clutter. And secondly... if they sail there instead of ride there, that's fine as well—they'll just probably want to sail back to Sandpoint and pick up their caravan anyway, since sailing to Minkai is really NOT an option due to the geography of the planet and the placement of hyper-dangerous oceans and the fact that we didn't write that adventure path.


I like the Caravan I wonder how my players will react to it. But I will get to see all your guys input cause I have a while before I run this game.


Clark Peterson wrote:
logic_poet wrote:
Character creation hasn't killed any PCs yet.
Good one! But since you know Traveller well enough to make that joke, you also know it has a tendency to be subtitled "Mercantilism In Space!"

Very true, but that's a feature not a bug.

I would buy up a supplement that provided good rules (and yes, I'm saying most previous attempts fail to reach that criteria) for running a caravan, shipping, trading, and running a business or getting more mileage out of craft or profession skills in an instant.

Here's why: While the focus on the game is (and should remain) on heroic adventuring, these endeavors help immerse the PCs in the setting and make for a nice mini-game/subsystem ala the Kingdom building rules. Almost every game I've run has, at some point along the way, veered into territory where these mercantile scenarios come up. It's very unsatisfying to handwave it, wing it, or try and come up with mechanics wholesale.

....so, can I pre-order something yet? :)


BPorter wrote:
Clark Peterson wrote:
logic_poet wrote:
Character creation hasn't killed any PCs yet.
Good one! But since you know Traveller well enough to make that joke, you also know it has a tendency to be subtitled "Mercantilism In Space!"

Very true, but that's a feature not a bug.

I would buy up a supplement that provided good rules (and yes, I'm saying most previous attempts fail to reach that criteria) for running a caravan, shipping, trading, and running a business or getting more mileage out of craft or profession skills in an instant.

Here's why: While the focus on the game is (and should remain) on heroic adventuring, these endeavors help immerse the PCs in the setting and make for a nice mini-game/subsystem ala the Kingdom building rules. Almost every game I've run has, at some point along the way, veered into territory where these mercantile scenarios come up. It's very unsatisfying to handwave it, wing it, or try and come up with mechanics wholesale.

....so, can I pre-order something yet? :)

I agree when it comes to getting milage out of craft or profession, especially in an immersive sense. I've always felt that taking ranks in craft or profession oftentimes becomes a Role-Play vs Optimization debate, where the Roleplay often loses because there's so few opportunities to use those skills in a meaningful manner.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

In James' Savage Tide campaign, my beguiler Baskerville Holmes set up a festhall in Farshore using the 'start a business' rules in the DMG2. It limped along and made a few gp each month, but then the campaign left the island behind and I kinda lost track of it. I'm sure my staff kept it going.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Jason Nelson wrote:
In James' Savage Tide campaign, my beguiler Baskerville Holmes set up a festhall in Farshore using the 'start a business' rules in the DMG2. It limped along and made a few gp each month, but then the campaign left the island behind and I kinda lost track of it. I'm sure my staff kept it going.

In fact, once Baskerville left the area and the staff was no longer so paralyzed with fear that their boss might mind control them into shameful acts of shamefulness, they became one of the greatest success stories of Farshore, bringing in six to seven hundred gold pieces a month on average!

At least, that's what Demogorgon's been telling me. I'm pretty sure I can trust Demogorgon, yeah?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


At least, that's what Demogorgon's been telling me. I'm pretty sure I can trust Demogorgon, yeah?

Choose a reply:

- Sure, you can thrust Demogorgon. Possibly with a holy avenger. But it isn't safe to do that.

- Sure you can trust Demogorgon, but we can trust you? Are you reporting His true message?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Returning to the topic at hand, gypsy caravans often offered competences in skills that were rarely needed in minor towns and villages, but still important, like the tinsmith, or selling horses.
Another common function of wandering merchants like those that made up a caravan of this kind was to sell house implements that would be consumed/lost with time but whose demand wasn't high.
So copper pots, needles, ribbons, almanacs with the phases of the moon, recipes and simple farming advice and so on for a almost endless list of items that take relatively little space but can have a good resale value.

I think it would be possible to add 2 travelling characters:

- the "travelling peddler", with some skill in Profession trader and the need for one or more cargo spaces for his wares. He will have 2 "special" abilities: 1) he would be capable to do a profession skill roll to gather his income when he reach a new town with a bonus the first day (x3 maybe), no modifier the second day and will not be capable to generate further income the next days as he has saturated the market; 2) under normal circumstances he will never deplete his merchandise, i.e. he need to have some dedicated cargo spaces for them but, as the single unit is small and relatively pricey his stock will last for a long time.

- the "tinsmith": he need some skill in craft smith or even withesmith (if we want to be more discriminant) and possibly a dedicated wagon as he need to bring a small shop with him (or enough space on one of the other wagons).
He would sell his services in every city along the route, repairing pots, mending cutlery, grinding knifes, even doing small repairs to cheap jewellery. As he would do most of his work repairing stuff and not making it from scratch he would use less material than a regular smith. Again after a few days in town his revenue source will dry up as people would have already given him all the material in deed of mending they had in their household.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Diego Rossi wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


At least, that's what Demogorgon's been telling me. I'm pretty sure I can trust Demogorgon, yeah?

Choose a reply:

- Sure, you can thrust Demogorgon. Possibly with a holy avenger. But it isn't safe to do that.

- Sure you can trust Demogorgon, but we can trust you? Are you reporting His true message?

You talked about thrusting Demogorgon. This conversation is over.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


At least, that's what Demogorgon's been telling me. I'm pretty sure I can trust Demogorgon, yeah?

Choose a reply:

- Sure, you can thrust Demogorgon. Possibly with a holy avenger. But it isn't safe to do that.

- Sure you can trust Demogorgon, but we can trust you? Are you reporting His true message?

You talked about thrusting Demogorgon. This conversation is over.

Couldn't resist myself, I have 2 heads, each one had to give his opinion.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Clark Peterson wrote:


Don't worry, Jason Nelson and I are already working on some caravan expansion stuff for Legendary Games to fill that exact need.

Sample caravans, some caravan NPCs, rival caravans, set piece caravan encounters where the PCs are featured doing their PC thing while the caravan encounter goes on in the background.

I'd like to see some of this too. Especially with my new sheet projects coming up... so far there's not a lot of expanding to do for a caravan stat sheet.


So despite my attempts at convincing my players that the caravan isn't about trading and earning money, they decided to ignore me and are now trying to find any way to earn some extra cash.

My concern is that my players want to bring stuff that aren't covered by the caravan rules, f.ex my players came up against some bandits. To make the caravan combats a bit more exciting I ran a second combat with just the pc's and the bandit leaders. After defeating the bandits the pc's discovered that they had seven riding horses in their camp and they also captured a few of the bandits. Their caravan did not have room for any extra passengers, but decided to have the bandits tied up on the horses and bring them to Galduria which was only a couple of days away. Since I couldn't find any rules concerning bringing additional horses and prisoners without the space to do so, I decided that this slowed down the caravan by 1d6 miles per day due to the extra effort in guarding the prisoners and guiding the horses.

It's not a big problem, but I think you should be able to stove some extra passengers in empty storage spaces instead of cargo. Does anyone else have any problems with their players wanting to bring extra stuff which their caravan can't reasonably contain by RAW?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mortagon wrote:

So despite my attempts at convincing my players that the caravan isn't about trading and earning money, they decided to ignore me and are now trying to find any way to earn some extra cash.

My concern is that my players want to bring stuff that aren't covered by the caravan rules, f.ex my players came up against some bandits. To make the caravan combats a bit more exciting I ran a second combat with just the pc's and the bandit leaders. After defeating the bandits the pc's discovered that they had seven riding horses in their camp and they also captured a few of the bandits. Their caravan did not have room for any extra passengers, but decided to have the bandits tied up on the horses and bring them to Galduria which was only a couple of days away. Since I couldn't find any rules concerning bringing additional horses and prisoners without the space to do so, I decided that this slowed down the caravan by 1d6 miles per day due to the extra effort in guarding the prisoners and guiding the horses.

It's not a big problem, but I think you should be able to stove some extra passengers in empty storage spaces instead of cargo. Does anyone else have any problems with their players wanting to bring extra stuff which their caravan can't reasonably contain by RAW?

No problem with the bandits and horses, as long as you remember that they do consume food supplies.

And passengers don't WANT to be shoved into a crate or box (which is really what is being suggested by stuffing them in empty storage spaces).


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Last night we, finally, finished up part 1 of the Brinewall Legacy. Then came 2 hours of caravan building. Interestingly enough, the players enjoyed it as much as if they'd been playing during that time. They enjoyed tweaking the caravan, even if the math was sending my wife into a tailspin as she got saddled with filling out the sheet.

However, filling out a "caravan character sheet" did what James has stated his hopes were: the caravan has come alive for them and they haven't even departed Sandpoint.

It took a couple hours because while they knew a caravan was coming up and that they'd have a lot of control over it, I had asked that they avoid the player's guide until I gave the all-clear (basically until part 1 of Brinewall Legacy was done). It's due to how we started the AP; after an aborted start at Rise of the Runelords, they were already integrated into Sandpoint. I wanted to give away as little as possible and the player's guide, in our case, was fairly full of spoilers, not they didn't guess what was going to happen, but they couldn't be 100% sure their guess was right.

Anyways, they enjoyed making the caravan and after some discussions, we made a few house rules that I though I'd share.

First: Base speed is 16 per the CRB
That makes provision management a bit more of a concern. Heh, it was fun when they ran out of cargo units for stores, got another supply wagon, and then about pulled their hair out when they discovered that it upped their consumption as they needed to feed the new horses and hire a driver too. It also enticed them to upgrade the undercarriages of the wagons when they saw it was going to take nearly a month to get to Brinewall, and that's if they don't layover at any towns.

Second: We made wainwright and trader roles have a special stacking caveat - if filled by a PC or significant NPC (SNPC), then that position stacks with others
The argument was, traders won't be doing anything between towns and wainwrights are only needed to repair the wagons, and that has to be done when the caravan is not moving. Thus we took the union vs. non-union approach. If they hire somebody, then it's a union job, the trader only does trader stuff and leaches off the provisions otherwise, same goes for the wainwright. But if a PC/SNPC fills the role, he/she is doing it for the "good of the caravan." So, Sandu suddenly found himself a driver, trader, and wainwright. It looks like it'll work out pretty well. They might end up holding over at a town a day or two longer as Sandru is locked into 24 hour "hat" cycles. So if the caravan needs repairing, then that's all he's going to do for a day. The next day he can then switch hats and be a trader.

Third: Percy lives, or, there's a cart in the caravan
One of the players has a small, four-wheeled cart pulled by Percy the mule. (Why are all mules named Percy?) I'd given it some prior thought and we agreed the cart would be treated as a smaller version of the supply wagon: 1 consumption, 2 travelers, 5 cargo units of storage, and it applies against the maximum number of wagons. There is a caveat though. Percy must survive a caravan destruction. When I was reading the section about caravans reaching 0 hit points and got to the part about all horses die, the room went silent and many pairs of eyes narrowed at me. As they were between me and the door leaving the only escape route out a second story window, I capitulated and agreed that Percy would also end up at 1d20-5 hp and somehow miraculously escaping like the PCs and SNPCs. :)

Even with the role stacking, they ended up with a total of 14 people (counting themselves and the SNPCs) in the caravan. That gave them pause and they realized that the caravan was a Big Deal after all.

Next week they start out on the trip. Along with the "standard" stops, I added a few more:

  • A permanently used Varisian halting site(camp), as in there's always a dozen or so caravans there at any give time, between Sandpoint and Gladuria
  • A possible detour to Ravenmoor, the temptation to get a cargo unit or two of its fabled wine might be too much for Sandru to pass up, and night is falling ...
  • If the party takes the detour around Riddleport, there's a ferry over the Velashu River, unfortunately there's a bit of a snag
  • A chance encounter with the Mierani elves if they camp at a certain know Varisian halting site
  • A fortress on the borderland between the Velashu Uplands and the Nolands where some paladins and rangers base out of in their struggles against the Nolanders

So, we'll see how the caravan portion of the game goes. I'm hoping it'll be as fun as the standard fare, so far it seems to be. Goodness knows I've put enough hours into preparing for it.


Zaranorth wrote:
A fortress on the borderland between the Velashu Uplands and the Nolands where...

Wait, wait, wait... Is that fortress a... Keep?

Right, anyway.

There doesn't seem to be any means by which members of the caravan, animals, or wagons are ever destroyed, unless ALL of them are destroyed. Is that the case? You can fight twelve ogres and the Caravan (with its enormous hitpoints) can easily outlast them, but despite being reduced to 11 HP, the caravan loses: 4 units of repair materials.

@.o Did I miss something?


Zaranorth wrote:

Second: We made wainwright and trader roles have a special stacking caveat - if filled by a PC or significant NPC (SNPC), then that position stacks with others
The argument was, traders won't be doing anything between towns and wainwrights are only needed to repair the wagons, and that has to be done when the caravan is not moving. Thus we took the union vs. non-union approach. If they hire somebody, then it's a union job, the trader only does trader stuff and leaches off the provisions otherwise, same goes for the wainwright. But if a PC/SNPC fills the role, he/she is doing it for the "good of the caravan." So, Sandu suddenly found himself a driver, trader, and wainwright. It looks like it'll work out pretty well. They might end up holding over at a town a day or two longer as Sandru is locked into 24 hour "hat" cycles. So if the caravan needs repairing, then that's all he's going to do for a day. The next day he can then switch hats and be a trader.

Afaik this is no houserule but RAW. everyone can change his role every day (i.e. every 24 hours) as long as he's the requirements for his new role.


Purplefixer wrote:
Zaranorth wrote:
A fortress on the borderland between the Velashu Uplands and the Nolands where...

Wait, wait, wait... Is that fortress a... Keep?

Right, anyway.

There doesn't seem to be any means by which members of the caravan, animals, or wagons are ever destroyed, unless ALL of them are destroyed. Is that the case? You can fight twelve ogres and the Caravan (with its enormous hitpoints) can easily outlast them, but despite being reduced to 11 HP, the caravan loses: 4 units of repair materials.

@.o Did I miss something?

I haven't sized the location at all yet. Just a one sentence note to myself. Keep, fortress, it's something, just not sure yet.

You're right about the caravan hp, 1 hp or 100, it's all the same. However, once it hits 0, all horses and non-significant NPCs are slain. The party requested that an exception be made for the mascot mule. While it's doubtful that'll happen, at least in the first couple modules, the players were very concerned about the mule and wanted an insurance policy in place for him. :)

eXaminator wrote:
Zaranorth wrote:


Second: We made wainwright and trader roles have a special stacking caveat - if filled by a PC or significant NPC (SNPC), then that position stacks with others
The argument was, traders won't be doing anything between towns and wainwrights are only needed to repair the wagons, and that has to be done when the caravan is not moving. Thus we took the union vs. non-union approach. If they hire somebody, then it's a union job, the trader only does trader stuff and leaches off the provisions otherwise, same goes for the wainwright. But if a PC/SNPC fills the role, he/she is doing it for the "good of the caravan." So, Sandu suddenly found himself a driver, trader, and wainwright. It looks like it'll work out pretty well. They might end up holding over at a town a day or two longer as Sandru is locked into 24 hour "hat" cycles. So if the caravan needs repairing, then that's all he's going to do for a day. The next day he can then switch hats and be a trader.
Afaik this is no houserule but RAW. everyone can change his role every day (i.e. every 24 hours) as long as he's the requirements for his new role.

True. I doubt a non-significant NPC would be willing to bounce around roles, thus the "union job" reference ... guess that would be guilds actually. All of us viewed it as if you hire somebody to be a trader, that's all they're going to be, even if that means they're only warming a wagon bench 4 days out of 5. But that's verisimilitude I guess.


Me wrote:


Zaranorth wrote:

A fortress on the borderland between the Velashu Uplands and the Nolands where...

Wait, wait, wait... Is that fortress a... Keep?

Sorry, I've been gaming for over two decades... this was apparently a bit more of an 'in' joke than I intended.

Keep on the Borderlands was an ancient classic ADnD module from back in the day when Gygax roamed the earth.


Oh, dur. I've never played it ... um, guess I'll turn in my gamer badge. And I never subscribed to Dungeon or Dragon mags, too busy buying Complete books to "waste" my money on other stuff. :D

We mostly did homebrew adventures for whatever reason, the adventure paths are my first true foray into letting somebody else write the story for me. (Stupid work and family getting in the way of fun ... uh work's stupid not family! I'll deny it if you tell them!)


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Ok, first impressions about the caravan from my group. Overall they liked it. In a 3-hour session we made it from Sandpoint to Ravenmoor - 230 miles give or take. I'd printed out a map of Varisia for everyone, so they were able to follow where they were going. That coupled with me having grabbed some historic weather data from Weather Underground and pulling descriptions of the local geography from Pathfinderwiki really helped to give it a sense of travel. I also apparently grabbed a timeframe from WU that was in a cold snap as they were snowed on once already which led to some grumblings. :)

I had modified the caravan speed to be base 16, they'd upped it to 24 (enhanced undercarriage - that was a pretty penny for them). This led to 9 days of travel plus a 2-day layover in Galduria. I think the slower pace also helped to impress the size of the journey they're going to face.

Combat
We had two combats, goblin raiders the second day out and bandits between Galduria and Wolf's Ear. Combat was a bit tough to handle for us. We like entertaining descriptions of what's happening and the caravan combat system made that kinda tough to do. Also, it felt very much like a single player's solo combat since there was only one person rolling. (Each combat only lasted two rounds so there wasn't time to pass the caravan sheet and let everyone participate.) In other words, it was a bit too abstract.

So, we worked out an alternative system. Each PC filling a Hero roll (all of them basically) gets to make a caravan attack with a damage die of 1d4. If the PC is in a role that could preclude them from fighting, such as driving or out scouting and thus not with the caravan, they don't get to attack. Once it's determined how many PCs hit, they each roll their damage die, and the results are totaled. The caravan level plus any other modifiers (first strike, reckless tactics, etc.) is added to this total and that's the damage done.

Basically, each PC is in charge of a "unit" of the caravan's forces. Since we have 3 PCs at level 3, that puts the caravan damage at a max of 3d4+3, or an average of 10. This is higher than the RAW 1d6+3 (6 average), but after looking at The Hungry Storm, they're going to need all the damage output they can get. :) Also, 3d4 assumes all 3 hit; since they're rolling separately, that won't always be the case. Natural 20s will let the player roll 2d4. I haven't yet worked out how to incorporate the Increased Damage feat.

If my other two players make it back while we're still doing caravan encounters, I'll probably knock the damage die down to 1d3s.

Trading
Nobody liked the idea of the limit of a single unit of trade goods per settlement per trader. So I kicked the numbers around some and WAGed out a table of varying types of trade goods.

I came up with different types of trade goods, denoted by their base worth: 10, 20, 50, 100, 250, 500. I then threw together a chart of the various settlement sizes and came up with a max number of trade goods that each could be expected to have. For example, hamlets only have 1 unit of 10gp trade goods, while small towns have 9 units of 10 gp, 6 units of 20 gp, and 3 units of 50 gp available for purchase (it also serves as the max units sellable). I then changed the trader rules so that they roll against a DC that, if they roll good, allows them to buy low and sell high. If they want to do more than 1 transaction per day for a trader, they state so before any rolling. It's then a -2 penalty for each additional transaction they want to do that day as the trader is being rushed and doesn't have time to haggle like he should.

My description sadly makes it look far more complex than it actually is. It's two rolls per trader (if they don't opt for additional transactions) and a fast table lookup for each roll, so it didn't really slow gameplay down much. The players happily traded a little bit of slowdown for something with a bit more meat to it.

The caravan is still primarily a "mobile village" but now it feels more ... real to the PCs.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Purplefixer wrote:
Me wrote:


Zaranorth wrote:

A fortress on the borderland between the Velashu Uplands and the Nolands where...

Wait, wait, wait... Is that fortress a... Keep?

Sorry, I've been gaming for over two decades... this was apparently a bit more of an 'in' joke than I intended.

Keep on the Borderlands was an ancient classic ADnD module from back in the day when Gygax roamed the earth.

Now I feel bad for getting the joke :(

LOL, we are ancient Purplefixer.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm really not sure how the caravan can survive two consecutive random combat encounters, beginning with the encounters in NoFS.

The players will have to upgrade it vastly and I look at the money investment and think to myself "Where from?". I guess I'll have to up the treasure in the modules, otherwise that will be a huge problem.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
magnuskn wrote:

I'm really not sure how the caravan can survive two consecutive random combat encounters, beginning with the encounters in NoFS.

The players will have to upgrade it vastly and I look at the money investment and think to myself "Where from?". I guess I'll have to up the treasure in the modules, otherwise that will be a huge problem.

Or give them "targetted" treasure (e.g., you find an armored wagon, or you find a ballista that could probably be rigged onto a wagon, or Sandru has had some good trading on the side and donates another 2000 gold for caravan upgrades).

The Exchange

If the PCs are lucky enough, they can earn two free armoured wagons during the third book.

Spoiler:
They can find a broken one in Urjuk with a DC 20 Survival check, and they're given one wagon of their choice if they take the route through Hill Country, tell the tale of liberating Rimakuk, and pass a DC 24 Resolve check.

Rather than giving them out based on luck (and reading the GM's mind, for the second one), just put them right in front of the party. It would go a LONG way towards keeping the caravan alive--that's +6 AC and +120 HP right there.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
SnowHeart wrote:
Or give them "targetted" treasure (e.g., you find an armored wagon, or you find a ballista that could probably be rigged onto a wagon, or Sandru has had some good trading on the side and donates another 2000 gold for caravan upgrades).

Yeah, that reeks a bit too much like the strings showing. The players already have traded and know that there is no way in hell that Sandru could get 2000 gp through it and just finding an armored wagon... well, it can work once or twice.

LeadPal wrote:

If the PCs are lucky enough, they can earn two free armoured wagons during the third book.

** spoiler omitted **

Rather than giving them out based on luck (and reading the GM's mind, for the second one), just put them right in front of the party. It would go a LONG way towards keeping the caravan alive--that's +6 AC and +120 HP right there.

This seems to be the right way to get them those wagons.

Still, I am not sure if the caravan combat system is properly balanced. The designers seem to assume that the caravan will be upgraded out the wazoo. But there is not enough of an indicator in the adventures how necessary that is, only *after* the caravan has been mostly trashed by one or, gods forbid, two random encounter(s).

I'd like to see some feedback from players who are already into part three and have seen how actual consecutive caravan combat works out with the strong encounters there. Just eyeballing it from my side, it seems as if the system wasn't actually playtested very much.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

We started playing through "The Hungry Storm" this past Sunday. Our party's caravan is pretty well-rounded, consisting of an armored wagon, two supply wagons, two horse trains, a fortune-teller's wagon, and a royal carriage. With all the wagons, a party of 6 PCs, and a dozen NPCS (Ameiko, Koya, Sandru, Shalelu, Ulf, Kelda, 5 extra drivers, and a cook), our consumption is in the low 30s, so all of the scouts are set on hunting duty just to make sure we have enough food to get from settlement to settlement, which are few and far between in the Crown of the World.

The level 7 caravan has Attack +10, AC 16, Security +10, Resolve +13, HP 160, and does 1d6+7 damage. Besides Enhanced Caravan several times, we have taken Extra Wagons, Merchant Mastery, Lucky Caravan, and First Strike for our feats.

Our first random encounter was with a polar pudding, a CR 7 caravan encounter. The pudding has AC 20, HP 85, Attack +13 and does a whopping 6d8+3 points of damage with each attack. Our caravan has a 55% chance to hit the pudding, and assuming average damage, does 11 damage a round (15 on the first round due to First Strike). By contrast, the pudding has a 90% chance of hitting the caravan, doing an average of 30 points of damage a round. Worse, if the pudding hits the caravan, it has to make a DC 22 Security check (our caravan has a 45% chance of success) or become mired, taking a -2 penalty to AC and attack rolls and becoming unable to move (i.e., flee the encounter).

Assuming the caravan and the pudding hit each other every round for average damage, the pudding will wipe out the caravan in 6 rounds, long before it is able to get through the pudding's 85 HP. It takes 2 DC 17 Security checks to flee the encounter, which our caravan has a 65% chance to make--assuming, of course, it hasn't failed the previous Security check when it was hit. Our GM did some hand-waving to allow us to escape even though we had been mired, but if he hadn't, that would have been the end of our caravan. Of course, had it been a straight up fight between our PCs and a white pudding, we would have decimated the ooze without taking much harm to ourselves.

Several days later, we encounter a band of ice trolls, a CR 8 caravan encounter. The trolls have AC 21, HP 100, Attack +15 and do a stupidly high 10d6 points of damage with each attack. Our caravan has a 50% chance to hit the trolls, while the trolls have a 95% chance of hitting us (only because they miss on a natural 1), doing an average of 35 points of damage a round. We only have to reduce them to 40 HP to get them to flee, but that takes 5 rounds of combat assuming we hit them every turn (a poor assumption with only a 50% chance of hitting), during which our caravan would take an average of 175 damage and be destroyed.

When we actually played it out, there were a lot of nat 20's and high damage on our side and a couple really low damage rolls on their side, which allowed us to force them to flee with just over half our HP left. Of course, we track them down to prevent further attacks, re-engaging in combat. We somehow manage to defeat the trolls, but survive with somewhere around 35 HP remaining.

Based on our experiences, it seems that the enemies scale up way too fast for an average caravan to keep up. Both these encounters are allegedly on CR for our caravan's level. Their attack bonuses are high enough to basically hit every time they attack, so the only way to survive is to focus completely on offense to take Extra Damage as much as possible. Even then, they have enough HP that the caravan is going to get trashed every fight. Perhaps the best strategy then is to focus on mobility and just run from every caravan combat?

The Exchange

Brainiac wrote:
Our party's caravan is pretty well-rounded, consisting of an armored wagon, two supply wagons, two horse trains, a fortune-teller's wagon, and a royal carriage. With all the wagons, a party of 6 PCs, and a dozen NPCS (Ameiko, Koya, Sandru, Shalelu, Ulf, Kelda, 5 extra drivers, and a cook), our consumption is in the low 30s, so all of the scouts are set on hunting duty just to make sure we have enough food to get from settlement to settlement, which are few and far between in the Crown of the World.

How much of that was free, and how much was the party's own investment? It looks like you've spent at least double what you can automatically get in the first two modules.

Brainiac wrote:
Based on our experiences, it seems that the enemies scale up way too fast for an average caravan to keep up. Both these encounters are allegedly on CR for our caravan's level. Their attack bonuses are high enough to basically hit every time they attack, so the only way to survive is to focus completely on offense to take Extra Damage as much as possible. Even then, they have enough HP that the caravan is going to get trashed every fight. Perhaps the best strategy then is to focus on mobility and just run from every caravan combat?

That looks like a good idea at first, except that there are multiple encounters you can't flee. It's not just the pudding.

Spoiler:
Later there's a plot encounter with AC 23, hp 115, Attack +17, and Damage 8d8+4. Without totally optimizing the wagon for murder I don't even think anyone could even beat the first wave--and yes, there's a second wave. After you win, you have to fight that same encounter AGAIN, with at most maybe 6d6 of healing, probably much less. There are a bunch of special bonuses you can get, but even if you managed to get every last one of them, it's not likely to be tide-turning.

After that, if the party doesn't kill everything in the final dungeon, there's a similar encounter at the end, only with fear effects, and the hp of the encounter increases the less thorough they were. And there are less bonuses to collect. AND the PCs are distracted by the boss. But at least if they beat the boss, the rest of the encounter ends automatically, so I suppose it's not quite as bad.

Edited to elaborate on why those fights are even harder than they look.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
LeadPal wrote:
Brainiac wrote:
Our party's caravan is pretty well-rounded, consisting of an armored wagon, two supply wagons, two horse trains, a fortune-teller's wagon, and a royal carriage. With all the wagons, a party of 6 PCs, and a dozen NPCS (Ameiko, Koya, Sandru, Shalelu, Ulf, Kelda, 5 extra drivers, and a cook), our consumption is in the low 30s, so all of the scouts are set on hunting duty just to make sure we have enough food to get from settlement to settlement, which are few and far between in the Crown of the World.
How much of that was free, and how much was the party's own investment? It looks like you've spent at least double what you can automatically get in the first two modules.

The party has invested about 4,000-5,000 gp of its own money in the caravan. I know the party cleric bought the royal carriage straight up out of her own personal funds.


Brainiac wrote:
We started playing through "The Hungry Storm" this past Sunday...

Well that has me decently worried about the caravan.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Uh, yeah. That's about what I thought when I saw the stats on the later encounters and had my first experience with caravan combat this Sunday.

Could a dev come by and explain to us what the intent here is? Because "The caravan gets destroyed every second ( or more ) random encounter" seems kind of a strange design decision. :-/

Scarab Sages

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
magnuskn wrote:

Uh, yeah. That's about what I thought when I saw the stats on the later encounters and had my first experience with caravan combat this Sunday.

Could a dev come by and explain to us what the intent here is? Because "The caravan gets destroyed every second ( or more ) random encounter" seems kind of a strange design decision. :-/

I've been worrying about this too. It seemed like the initial intent of caravan combat was to make mook encounters quick and interesting, but somebody has been scaling the c combats as if a caravan advanced like a PC.

The Exchange

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Brainiac wrote:
LeadPal wrote:
Brainiac wrote:
Our party's caravan is pretty well-rounded, consisting of an armored wagon, two supply wagons, two horse trains, a fortune-teller's wagon, and a royal carriage. With all the wagons, a party of 6 PCs, and a dozen NPCS (Ameiko, Koya, Sandru, Shalelu, Ulf, Kelda, 5 extra drivers, and a cook), our consumption is in the low 30s, so all of the scouts are set on hunting duty just to make sure we have enough food to get from settlement to settlement, which are few and far between in the Crown of the World.
How much of that was free, and how much was the party's own investment? It looks like you've spent at least double what you can automatically get in the first two modules.
The party has invested about 4,000-5,000 gp of its own money in the caravan. I know the party cleric bought the royal carriage straight up out of her own personal funds.

A little more than double, then.

It would help if we gave the caravan a much larger and more regular supply of freebies, and established a WBL of sorts. Real encounters aren't any easier, so just forcing the party to spend tens of thousands of their own money to make the caravan not die isn't a very good idea--it would literally be easier to walk the entire way.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I ask again: Could a dev please come here and clear up what is the design intent on this situation?

The Exchange

I'm no dev, but I do know the design rules given in Brinewall Legacy:

Pg 81 Sidebar wrote:

Combat Encounter: Designing stats for a combat

encounter is relatively easy—simply pick a CR, then use
Table 1–1 from page 291 of the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary to
set the encounter’s AC and hit points. Its attack should
equal the high attack roll, while its average damage should
equal that CR’s high average damage (you can assign
different dice and different modifiers as needed to hit the
total).

The numbers are scaled to the actual monsters used, but of course, caravans don't scale that fast. No wonder the results are so negative--the core balance point itself is borked.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Did nobody look at the actual caravan design rules when prepping those encounters? I'm honestly confused.


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This is pretty disappointing. My guess, based on memories of dev statements on similar problems with subsystems in the past, was that they were added quite late in development and without much, if any, playtesting.

Usually these systems more or less work out. The Kingmaker system was flawed, but for the level of ambition and page count held together fairly well. Castaways and the camp in Serpent's Skull were great, and the Golden Goblin stuff from Second Darkness was fun (though underused). But then there is Haunting of Harrowstone, where they forgot to add sufficient ways to gain trust to keep you from being run out of town. This time we have the Romance system (hope you maxed Diplomacy) and Caravan Combat (your caravan is as strong as a party of four, right?).

I know that Paizo is busy, and no game company can do thorough playtesting of every adventure or system before print. But why not take advantage of the Playtesting system Paizo has already used? I know I'm always super excited when a playtest comes out, and more excited for the book because of it. Makes me feel all warm, fuzzy, and invested in the product.

Not that the Caravan rules are a deal-breaker here. It is, at most, a mini-game. But I fear for Skull and Shackles. It begs for a Kingmaker-level integration of piracy, ship/fleet building, and fortress-running rules. If those end up being underdeveloped, it could severely impact an AP I am greatly looking forward to.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Hey there, folks!

It's unfortunate that the caravan rules aren't working as smoothly as we'd hoped they would... part of the problem was, I suspect, that we overstepped our capacity to incorporate subsystems into this AP, what with the addition of the Beginner Box to the workload on top of everything else (I'll note that the previous big subsystem we developed for an AP, in Kingmaker, was done not during the convention season and without beginner box stuff pulling even more resources away).

We should have done more playtesting for the caravan rules, in other words, but we didn't have the time.

The "good" news is that "The Hungry Storm" was always intended to be the big "caravan adventure," and in the last three adventures, the caravan element recedes once again into a more optional, background element as they were in the first two adventures—so if you decide to just get rid of the caravan encounter system entirely, the Jade Regent Adventure path still works just fine.

In the meantime, I'd love to see more analysis of what the problems with the system are, and I suspect that some folks will come up with some pretty elegant workarounds or solutions here.

Alas... we don't currently have the time or manpower to go back at this point and officially "fix" the caravan rules or the encounters in "The Hungry Storm." (I would RAHTER rebuild the caravan encounters in the adventure, to be honest, since that keeps the caravan rules themselves from having to be revised...). In any event, hopefully when we get a chance to look back at the caravan encounters, we'll be able to post some solutions... it might take a bit of time till we get to a point where we can do that is all I'm saying.

Anyway, sorry it didn't work out. Frustrating for us as well!

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

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The attack, damage, and hit point values for the various caravan encounters, at least in the Hungry Storm, were derived based on average monster values in the Bestiary for monsters of the same CR. Given that it seems to be the case that caravan values don't really measure up combat-wise in the same way that PCs would (unless you go absolutely all-in for combat, and even then not definitely), it seems likely that some adjustment is in order. As James said, it's far easier to adjust monster values (which are unknown to the players) than to have them rejigger their entire caravan plan, especially for those already well along in the campaign.

You could still run it as is, if you want to emphasize that crossing the pole is hellaciously dangerous and difficult.

If you want to make it easier for PCs to feel successful, however, my wholly unofficial seat-of-the-pants workaround suggestion might be to drop the encounter attack bonuses by -5 and have their attacks in cause half the listed damage. I don't think I'd cut the monster hp, though, because otherwise the encounters might be over too quickly; if I did cut them, it might only be like 20 or 25% rather than in half.

It's a simple solution that still conveys a sense of danger without making caravan encounters regularly overwhelming. Nothing grand and glorious in terms of design, but if it works... :)


James Jacobs wrote:

Hey there, folks!

It's unfortunate that the caravan rules aren't working as smoothly as we'd hoped they would... part of the problem was, I suspect, that we overstepped our capacity to incorporate subsystems into this AP, what with the addition of the Beginner Box to the workload on top of everything else (I'll note that the previous big subsystem we developed for an AP, in Kingmaker, was done not during the convention season and without beginner box stuff pulling even more resources away).

We should have done more playtesting for the caravan rules, in other words, but we didn't have the time.

The "good" news is that "The Hungry Storm" was always intended to be the big "caravan adventure," and in the last three adventures, the caravan element recedes once again into a more optional, background element as they were in the first two adventures—so if you decide to just get rid of the caravan encounter system entirely, the Jade Regent Adventure path still works just fine.

In the meantime, I'd love to see more analysis of what the problems with the system are, and I suspect that some folks will come up with some pretty elegant workarounds or solutions here.

Alas... we don't currently have the time or manpower to go back at this point and officially "fix" the caravan rules or the encounters in "The Hungry Storm." (I would RAHTER rebuild the caravan encounters in the adventure, to be honest, since that keeps the caravan rules themselves from having to be revised...). In any event, hopefully when we get a chance to look back at the caravan encounters, we'll be able to post some solutions... it might take a bit of time till we get to a point where we can do that is all I'm saying.

Anyway, sorry it didn't work out. Frustrating for us as well!

Thanks for the honest reaction, James. I still hope, that there will be an official "patch" for the caravan rules here on the Paizo boards. It isn´t too late for that, becaus the vast majority of GMs and players hasn´t even started the campaign.

Our group for instance starts "The Brinewall Legacy" in Decemeber. I hope, I don´t have to drop the caravan rules. I did that with Kingmaker. The kingdom building rules were not realistic enough for me and my group, but I hope that I can use the additional rules this time in my campagin. Without them the long, long journey could be a little boring. Because most journeys are boring. This campaign NEEDS a proper caravan system, please give it to us, Paizo! :)


James Jacobs wrote:


It's unfortunate that the caravan rules aren't working as smoothly as we'd hoped they would... part of the problem was, I suspect, that we overstepped our capacity to incorporate subsystems into this AP, what with the addition of the Beginner Box to the workload on top of everything else (I'll note that the previous big subsystem we developed for an AP, in Kingmaker, was done not during the convention season and without beginner box stuff pulling even more resources away).

We should have done more playtesting for the caravan rules, in other words, but we didn't have the time.

Darn Beginners Box sapping resources away from the established customers! Ah well, gotta reach for some new guys I guess. I wonder if the APs are still the crown jewel for Paizo? I hope so.

I also really, truly, think we have enough rules for the game now. Don't we? I already dropped the trust rules from Harrowstone (used the existing Diplomacy rules instead) and will be doing the same for the sanity rules in Wake (using the existing rules for damaging wisdom and insanity instead). I'm not sure why the caravan travel just wasn't handled with the existing overland travel, weather, and object damaging rules.


Yeah, ditto on the thanks for the response.

I agree that dropping the attack and damage will help, or even lowering the encounter CRs. I'm still going to fiddle with the caravan rules some, mainly to get the damage output up so that it feels like it's a level 7 caravan. Something like let each ballista do 1d4 or 1d6 damage instead of adding to attack; but it's got to be operated by a guard, PC, or significant NPC, and only certain wagon types can mount them. I've got a couple other ideas percolating too. So between that, what I mentioned earlier, and maybe some other tricks that others will come up with, I'm sure my group will still have fun with caravan encounter and the caravan in general. Heck they already are.

We're halfway to Brinewall and the caravan so far has really made them feel like they're traveling 500 miles rather than out for a stroll.


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How about giving the caravan iterative attacks based on their attack score. When their attack score is +6, they get another attack at +1, when it reaches +11, it becomes +11/+6/+1 etc. I don't have the caravan rules in front of me right now so I don't know how viable this would be though.

Another idea I had was to give the pc's more of an impact in the caravan rules to include all the pc's in the caravan combat. Each round of caravan combat, instead of their usual hero bonus, they could choose to defend, attack or repair the caravan. If they attack they can make an attack roll or (caster level check adding the level of the spell used if using magic) vs. the AC of the encounter to deal 1d6 additional damage (plus the level of the spell used, viable spells are those that cause damage and those that hinders the foes such as entangle and hold person). If they defend they can choose to add +2 to the caravans AC and soak some of the caravans damage (up to their level taken from their own hit points). If they repair they heal a number of damage equal to 1d6+their ranks in the relevant profession or craft skill, or 1d6 plus the level of spell used to fix the caravan (viable spells are healing spells and spells like fabricate, make whole and mending. When using non-magical means of repairing this will use repair supplies as normal.


Mortagon wrote:

How about giving the caravan iterative attacks based on their attack score. When their attack score is +6, they get another attack at +1, when it reaches +11, it becomes +11/+6/+1 etc. I don't have the caravan rules in front of me right now so I don't know how viable this would be though.

Another idea I had was to give the pc's more of an impact in the caravan rules to include all the pc's in the caravan combat. Each round of caravan combat, instead of their usual hero bonus, they could choose to defend, attack or repair the caravan. If they attack they can make an attack roll or (caster level check adding the level of the spell used if using magic) vs. the AC of the encounter to deal 1d6 additional damage (plus the level of the spell used, viable spells are those that cause damage and those that hinders the foes such as entangle and hold person). If they defend they can choose to add +2 to the caravans AC and soak some of the caravans damage (up to their level taken from their own hit points). If they repair they heal a number of damage equal to 1d6+their ranks in the relevant profession or craft skill, or 1d6 plus the level of spell used to fix the caravan (viable spells are healing spells and spells like fabricate, make whole and mending).

This I like.

I've been trying to figure out a way to make the caravan combat more...inclusive, and to make the PCs feel like they're actually heroes rolling along with the caravan, and they have more of an impact in combat than just a run of the mill caravan guard.
I think this will work nicely, provided it scales well...


PhineasGage wrote:

This I like.
I've been trying to figure out a way to make the caravan combat more...inclusive, and to make the PCs feel like they're actually heroes rolling along with the caravan, and they have more of an impact in combat than just a run of the mill caravan guard.
I think this will work nicely, provided it scales well...

I will test it the next time we do caravan stuff (right now my players are in Brinewall) and be sure to post my observations here.


That would be great...my players are just getting out of Brinestump, so we'll likely try it out as they travel to Brinewall too.

I see this more as a rewriter of the "Hero" role in the Caravan, allowing the PCs to decide what their hero would like to do in a given encounter.

Outright Attack - add a d4 or d6, maybe depending on caravan level or add in a feat, etc. Perhaps even have something which increases the size of the die by a step...say like maning the balista?

Distraction - Hero draws the enemies to him/her decreasing the likelihood of the Caravan itself being attacked (AC) and taking some damage personally.

Rally - Hero can increase the Caravan attack bonus (as per normal) by rallying the fellow travelers.

Makeshift - a Wainwright Hero can attempt to make some "on the fly" repairs in the midst of battle. (personally, I would treat these as temporary hit points, as doing full repairs in battle would be a challenge)

I look forward to seeing how it plays out for you guys Mortagon

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