Three PCs on the Shiv

Serpent's Skull

I'm going to have three players when I start running Serpent's Skull this Friday.

They are experienced but aren't overly min/max powergamers. Do you think they'll fare well in this Adventure Path?

We have a halfling ranger archaeologist on her first solo expedition, a valkyrie (sorta like a sylph) fighter (knowing this player, she'll turn into a slaughterhouse) and a stowaway half-dragon (using levels to gain his dragonness, so he's a half-orc 1st lvl half-dragon)...

20 pt buy.

We know 3.5 very well and played 4e for a while, this is going to be our first foray into Pathfinder.

I'm currently at the end of the second book of the Serpent Skull campaign with 5 players.

I believe this campaign could easily be run with 3 players as it seems most of the encounters are designed around 4. With 5 players I find that the encounters break down to be a bit easier than expected at times.

That being said, your players already cover quite a few roles with their group makeup. The only major hole is in healing, and if the players don't mind managing NPCs, they can easily use one of the Jask to fill that role since he is a cleric whose equipment can easily be recovered in the first couple encounters. If the players don't want to run him, you can easily run the NPC on heal bot mode for them. If you or your players don't like that route, then you could provide them with an ample supply of potions, scrolls or wands (assuming the sorcerer and/or ranger took use magic device). There is also a dryad that provides healing if you help her. She could seek out the adventurers earlier and offer her services along the way.

If you don't like any of these routes, most of the encounters can either be scaled back by reducing numbers of monsters, as many of the encounters are a composition of monsters and not single monster encounters. For single monster encounters, you can reduce which abilities you use, or the frequency at which you use them. If you don't like to dumb down your monsters/encounters, then the PCs will need to be smart about how they approach the encounters. Go ahead and make sure they are aware that they will need to be smart about their play and remind them they have other options after they've run into things head first and retreated.

The benefit of the Smuggler's shiv adventure is that the time it takes for the PCs to get off the island doesn't really matter. The PCs can easily approach an encounter with a plan, retreat, and revisit several times after becoming stronger, recovering, or coming up with a better plan. The more difficult sections for a smaller group will be book 2 when you are in a race to the finish against 4 other factions. There is a cleric guide and a druid/barbarian scout available to help the PCs, on that leg though.

All this being said, it would run very smoothly if you found a 4th player to play a healing role. If this isn't plausible there are a lot of tools in this adventure for you to fill that role.

anthony scott wrote:
(assuming the sorcerer and/or ranger took use magic device).

There isn't a sorcerer in the group (the valkyrie is a fighter, if that's the one you meant). I hope the ranger took UMD, since she's wanting her to be an Indy-type. We'll see :D

Our group used to be huge (7 or 8 players), so I'm hoping I don't accidently murder them. With people having kids and going back to school (we're all 30+, so when I say 'going back to school', I don't just mean returning after the holidays) and weird job schedules, we're barely squeaking by for players now, lol.

Sorry about that last post i hit the refresh to see if you responded.

Anyways, I assumed your half dragon was going down the sorcerer route. What class is the half-orc playing?

I *think* he'll take barbarian at 4th. It'll be 3 levels of half-dragon (using Savage Species-style level progression instead of applying the template).

I am currently mid way through the first book of this adventure path and have been running it with three players. So far in the game I have not modified a single encounter and they have been getting away with it just.

I think things will be OK but you may need to up some encounters with the discovery of healing potions a bit. My players are appreciating the deadliness of the Shiv in around 15 days on the island already though their lives have only truly been in the balance about four times and one of those was because of their own making, not the design of the adventure.

My group have a monk, and alchemist and a cavalier. The only one struggling a bit is the cavalier because of how restricted she is with her horse. Another cast away will be joining them next week so it will grow to a party of four but I would have kept running it unmodified without the excess player anyway.

Thanks for the replies.

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