"Wake of the Watcher" parts 3 & 4...


Carrion Crown

Grand Lodge

. . . . Are backwards.

I'm playing through Carrion Crown now -- no future Spoilers please -- but it seems to me that when we PCs arrive in Illmarsh and (for us) almost immediately learn that the Dark Rider went to the old abandoned manor a mile away (last used, by the way, the night the Lord was murdered and the heir disappeared; hello Whispering Way), that all the other PC groups playing this would also go there before agreeing to investigate the temple to Gozreh for the lying mayor.

For us, when we arrived in the town we immediately went to the temple,... got kicked out,... became suspicious of them,... asked around town and figured the temple was just busy dealing with the problems the townsfolk were worried about,... (saw the Cthulhu out in the lake),... deduced that the "neighbors" were kidnapping people instead of taking the daughters or whatever,... were asked to got to the town hall where we questioned the mayor and learned, after sifting through his lies, that he thinks something's up with the temple and he wants us to investigate it -- oh, and that the Dark Rider we're trying desperately to catch up to went to this old manor that, 70 years ago, was the scene of a murder and has been abandoned since then.

For us it seemed pretty obvious to go to the old house and let the crooked mayor and probably-corrupt temple deal with their own problems. We've got bigger fish to fry than whatever the temple and the "neighbors" are into. Of course we'll go back to Illmarsh if we have the chance and certainly if what we learn at the old manor suggests we need to go back.

But the DM was surprised we turned down the mayor's deputation. AND had to adjust his DM-plans cuz as written the PCs are apparently assumed to forget all about the Whispering Way and the Dark Rider once this shady mayor, lying through his teeth, asks us to go take out a temple to Gozreh that he thinks is up to no good.

Screw you, Dude, we're following the Dark Rider -- but we'll come back if we can, if we have time.

So here's my question, did any other groups run into this or was it just odd that we did it this way based likely on how our DM ran it??

Currently, we PCs have only just started to enter this old manor. We followed the Dark Rider's horse tracks and found his horse in the stable and found where he was in a fight and lost. We are gonna search the rest of the manor first thing next session and since the Dark Rider's horse has apparently been abandoned and the Dark Rider looks long-gone, we'll have to go back to Illmarsh to learn more and hopefully find out what to do next to track down the Whispering Way.

But this seems badly designed. Whispering Way guy didn't even really enter the town as far as we know -- he went straight to this old manor where he must've been betrayed by other Whispering Way guys and got killed. Hopefully we'll find the Whispering Way in town but it doesn't look like it'll make any sense.


I'm just now GMing my group through Wake. We are at the very end and will finish it at the start of our next session.

In the actual text of the adventure only a few people in town even know "the old house" exists. Not all of these people are in town when the adventure takes place and the ones that are would not divulge this information willingly for various reasons that the adventure details for the GM.

As written there are basically two ways for the players to find out where the rider went.

1. Mayor Early Greedle. He does know about the house and rider but refuses to divulge any of this information until the PCs agree to "go to the Order’s hall and take a look around". Of course a group could force him to speak with magic and intimidation. If so you could certainly bypass looking around the Orders hall and head straight to the house. Otherwise conversing with the mayor (and using sense motive or magic) would reveal that he isn't really lying or evil, he's just scared and powerless, and wants the PCs to help him.

2. In the Orders's hall clues can found to point the way to "the old house". This is the expected way to find out about the house and rider.

So, yes, the adventure assumes the PCs will speak to the mayor, investigate the Order, and then head to the house, in that order. However, if resourceful PCs manage to find out about the house and rider without bothering to check out the Orders hall it's not really a big deal. I don't think any kind of "adjustment" is necessary by the GM.

W E Ray wrote:


(for us) almost immediately learn that the Dark Rider went to the old abandoned manor a mile away

As I detail above this is certainly not impossible (or really that unexpected) but just out of curiosity how did your group do it?

W E Ray wrote:


For us, when we arrived in the town we immediately went to the temple,... got kicked out

As written, once the PCs start talking with the townsfolk eventually they draw the attention of the sheriff who notifies the mayor which leads to the mayor meeting with the PCs. That's basically what happened to my group and they agreed to work with the mayor, went to investigate the Order’s hall, refused to leave when asked to, and got attacked as a result (all pretty much as written). The Order is a touchy bunch especially in the current environment so it shouldn’t take long for things to go bad once the PCs set foot in the hall. Based on what I’m reading of your group it sounds like you are a pretty aggressive team so I’m surprised you actually left the hall when asked to! If you didn’t things would have went south on you anyway and led to you the house as well.

W E Ray wrote:


For us it seemed pretty obvious to go to the old house and let the crooked mayor and probably-corrupt temple deal with their own problems. We've got bigger fish to fry than whatever the temple and the "neighbors" are into.

Well that’s pretty much what you are supposed to do. It's just a matter of how you do that as detailed above. Now some PCs might want to figure what is going on in Illmarsh out of curiosity, or out of duty, and some might want to do something about it when they do find out what is going on. Aside from that though what you describe is basically how the adventure is written. The order that it happens really doesn’t make a difference.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

I'm just finishing off DMing Broken Moon so I'm quite interested in your stories of how this played out.

It seems one of the key things here is how Mayor Early Greedle is portrayed. From the module (and I don't think there are any spoilers here)...

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:


Mayor Early Greedle (CN male human aristocrat 4) is
a scrawny man with oily skin and red-splotched cheeks,
dressed in a formal, though somewhat shabby, coat and top
hat. He appears slightly out of breath and has a gasping
manner of speaking. He introduces himself and formally
welcomes the PCs to town. Mayor Greedle is friendly and
effusive, but a DC 20 Sense Motive check gives the PCs a
hunch that the mayor is deeply worried about something.
He begins the conversation by agreeing to answer any
of the PCs’ questions, bobbing his head in a solicitous
manner. Specific topics the PCs might ask about and
Mayor Greedle’s answers are provided below. While the
mayor tries to be truthful in his responses, in many cases
he is omitting certain information. A DC 20 Sense Motive
check made at these points reveals the fact that Greedle
is withholding information, but he will not expound
much beyond his prepared answers unless charmed or
otherwise coerced. Instead, he attempts to deftly shift the
conversation to another topic, eventually getting to what
troubles him—see below

So "shady lying crooked" mayor is one interpretation, but I think I'll be playing him as a weak frightened puppet-lord.

Slightly OT, but you know the Centauri Regent in Babylon 5 series 4+5, who rules his people but is secretly in fear of the Drakh. That kind of take I have on it.

I think the players need to feel sympathy for the mayor, and agree to help him out of pity. If they think he's a lying slushbag, they will have little desire to help Illmarsh.


I have to concur with Evil Paul. It really hinges on how the mayor is portrayed.

I am currently running this for my group and everything seems to be happening in the right order.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The mayor shouldn't freely give you the information that the Dark Rider went to Undiomede House. If he did, your GM either did it wrong or you did it very "right" ( i.e. intimated the poor guy ).

Of course if your group doesn't care that the town is under the thrall of a demon worshipping cult, and doesn't even want to deal with them, there's something majorly wrong with their motivation and you'll run into lots of other problems. "Why do we care?" is not exactly the best attitude for AP's. A lot of plot points run under the assumption that PC's will care about getting rid of some rather random evil dudes doing their thing.

Also, loot.

Grand Lodge

@ Cibet,

As for what we did, specifically, it's pretty much there in the OP.

Immediately upon entering the town we went to the building that looked like a Temple, in this case one to Gozreh. They immediately kicked us out making us suspicious of them.

Then we went to the two bars and started talking. We're pretty LG oriented and are uber-awesome at Diplomacy, Sense Motive & Knowledges. We learned quite a bit about what was going on in town after only about 30 minutes of roleplay in the two bars and then headed to the docks where we saw the Cthulhu out in the water, then talked to a couple folks in the fish market and then this Alchemist chick who doesn't like it in Illmarsh.

We learned that people have recently been going missing and the Temple is trying to solve it but no one believes they'll succeed. One of the bartenders was half drunk when we started talking to her and she said her sister was "given" or something to the "neighbors" years ago and she won't have kids so they won't have to go to the "neighbors." That that's the norm. But the "neighbors" haven't been getting the girl children lately -- I think (still a bit confused here). No one had seen the Dark Rider on horseback.

When we left the Alchemist chick we were asked by the Sheriff (who detected as Evil and Lawful) to come to the Mayor (who, I think, did not detect as anything -- True Neutral). The Mayor said he never saw the Dark Rider but our Sense Motive-Fu was good; he's a lying bastard. He was trying to explain the troubles in the town but according to our Sense Motive-Fu half of what he said was false. We started calling him on it -- especially about the Dark Rider. Then he "came clean" and admitted he saw the Dark Rider and wanted to make us deputies to take out the Temple because he's suspicious of them. Oh, and he's a puppet ruler and he told us the whole story of the history of Baytown/ Illmarsh and how 70 years ago the ruler was murdered in his ancestral estate and the heir went missing and that's where the Dark Rider went. Oh, and please investigate the Temple to Gozreh.

Like we care about the corrupt little puppet-mayor and the probably corrupt little temple to Gozreh.

We want to find the Whispering Way.
...We HAVE to find.

Sure, if we were just passing through looking for adventure or something, sure -- but we have a hugely important duty to see through.

And if a puppet-mayor, corrupt church and child-marrying "neighbors" have been the status-quo ever since the founding of this town a bazillion years ago -- and the villagers know that their second-born (right?) daughters will be given to the "neighbors" that sucks, but it has nothing to do with the Whispering Way. We GOTTA follow the Dark Rider.

We PCs were incredulous at the thought of helping the mayor thus delaying our hunt for the Whispering Way guy.

As it turns out we found Whispering Way Guy's horse dying of thirst in the stable and then a fight scene right next to it with the Seasage Effigy package lying forgotten on the ground, empty. (Don't know how we know it's the Seasage Effige package as it's empty. Hmmmm.)

So, with our only lead at a dead end we Have to back to Illmarsh which really kinda pisses me off. Not that I wouldn't mind doing good for this town and taking out a corrupt Temple but sheesh -- it doesn't make sense that the Whispering Way, or clues leading to them, are backwards.

I just wondered if other groups felt that way or if it was just how our group played through it where it seems like a design flaw. It could be that we just did it a bit differently and the adventure is well designed after all. But I don't see it yet.

Maybe after we finish exploring this Undimedee House we'll know more. We've only just found where the Whispering Way guy lost a fight and dropped his Seasage Effigy.


W E Ray wrote:

@ Cibet,

As for what we did, specifically, it's pretty much there in the OP.

Sounds good. As GM, the only ting I would have done differently is that I would have made the mayor not divulge what he knew about the rider and house unless forced to by magic or maybe intimidation. You would have known he was lying and he would have even admitted it if caught but he still wouldn't have divulged anything else until you checked out the temple.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think the idea is that Mayor Greedle isn’t supposed to tell you about Undiomede House until after you investigate the Church for him. By the book, he holds out on that particular bit of information as a reward.

That said, by this level in their careers, many players have access to mind-affecting effects, and that’s before you take extreme duress into account, (such as beating the heck out of the mayor, which I can see some players managing.)

As a GM, all I can say is Welp. Sometimes that happens. Players are notorious for finding their way around linear approaches.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
W E Ray wrote:
I just wondered if other groups felt that way or if it was just how our group played through it where it seems like a design flaw. It could be that we just did it a bit differently and the adventure is well designed after all. But I don't see it yet.

Unfortunately, I think that the AP has conflicting goals. On one hand, it is supposed to be a chase. On the other hand, it is full of sidequests. Both suffer. The chase gets lost in the sidequests, and the sidequests seem spurious and the locations don't get fully developed because the PCs are supposed to get back to the chase.


Nathonicus wrote:
W E Ray wrote:
I just wondered if other groups felt that way or if it was just how our group played through it where it seems like a design flaw. It could be that we just did it a bit differently and the adventure is well designed after all. But I don't see it yet.

Unfortunately, I think that the AP has conflicting goals. On one hand, it is supposed to be a chase. On the other hand, it is full of sidequests. Both suffer. The chase gets lost in the sidequests, and the sidequests seem spurious and the locations don't get fully developed because the PCs are supposed to get back to the chase.

I'd say part 4 is the most out of place. Part 4 is a decent adventure but the "Mythos" stuff really distracts the players from the main story line quite a bit. It's hard to keep them focused on necromancers and liches when the mythos creatures and old one cults are everywhere. I really wish Paizo would have saved all the mythos stuff in part 4 for an AP or sourcebook of its own rather than squeeze it into the middle Carrion Crown. It does stick out pretty badly. If I had a lot more time on my hands (and a little more creativity) I would have replaced part 4 with something else.

Aside from this, I think the key to running CC is to make it an investigation, not a chase. A chase requires the players to know they are on a clock (which they do not for 4/5 of the AP) and for both sides to be aware of each other (for 4/5 of the AP the WW is not even aware of the PCs trailing them). Running the AP as an investigation I think allows for the side tracks and exploration the AP offers.

Grand Lodge

I wish it were more of an investigation.

I swear we learned EVERYTHING about the Whispering Way in the first half of the first volume, "Haunting at Harrowstone." Every place we've been to and researched since then, the Leipstadt University, the lame-ass, ludicrously out of place, high-class-hunting-lodge-in-the-middle-of-a-Ravenloftesque-Werewolf-infeste d-forest library (Ooh, Let's vacation there!), various Secret Society NPCs, and now Illmarsh, has had no new info on the cult. The DM keeps saying there's no new info for us to learn ("Nothing you didn't learn at Harrowstone"). Apparently the Michael Kortes adventure is the only one with any info on the Whispering Way.

But yeah I think I see what you're saying -- the AP would be far better if, instead of a take-your-time to follow the Whispering Way by doing these odd, completely unrelated Side Treks Campaign, it were a step-by-step research/ follow up of the Whispering Way Campaign.

Now that I think about it, none of the adventures have had anything to do with the Whispering Way except the first.

Wow.

Think about it -- we get to Leipstadt and do the Flesh Golem trial with nothing to do with the Whispering Way. Only at the end do we learn the Cult also killed that guy that made the Beast and pick up a lead.

Then we go to the werewolf forest that the designers thought would make a great place for a vacation retreat and once again the adventure has nothing to do AT ALL with the Whispering Way until at the end we learn they were there earlier and went that way.

Then we go to Illmarsh and once again the entire adventure (up to this point, at least) has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the Whispering Way but, hmmm, allow me to predict that after we take out the corrupt Temple to Gozreh, somewhere in the basement or something, we'll find a note pointing to where the Whispering Way are going next.

Surely Jacobs saw this before he allowed these adventures to be published?...

Is it deliberate?!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

it's gotta be the gm being stingy with the info. lots of stuff bout the way in the adventures (book 3 even has an article that is all about the whispering way).

Grand Lodge

Ah.

Didn't know that about Whispering Way info.

It's not our DM being stingy, though, I don't think -- I think he honestly just doesn't see it. (He DMs right out of the book with little prep time.)

I have permission to read the volumes once we're finished running through them -- the DM knows I'll stop reading as soon as I see something that might be a spoiler for the future Campaign. I'll ask him if I can check out the article in Vol 3 -- if there's anything in it that a Player finishing Vol 4 shouldn't know yet.

He'll allow me as long as there's nothing in there that will ruin vol 5 or 6. He may ask me to not read the last paragraph or something.

Thanks.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think you’re experiencing a disconnect between Paizo and yourself on what this particular Adventure Path is for; on what the AP is, as a whole, about.

The theme of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path involves exploring the various different subjects of Gothic literary and Hammer movie horror. The Whispering Way serves as a bridging story element. I’m sure there’s a term for this kind of a literary device, but I can’t remember what it’s called. The pursuit serves as an overarching framework allowing the heroes to take part in a series of self-contained stories… each exploring a different source of horror (Ghost stories and hauntings in volume one and Frankenstein & mad science in two, for example.) It provides the impetus for the characters to move from one story to another, where they wouldn’t otherwise have the reason.

Removing Volume 4 would hobble a chunk of the very point of the Path. The different chapters and horrors themselves are the purpose of the Carrion Crown AP.

If there’s a flaw or a failing in the Path, it might be that it does too good of a job at making the framework arc seem important (at least for yourself…) obscuring the relevance of the individual stories. Perhaps it’s overcompensation. In my experience, several past Paths do poorly in representing the over-arching villains providing the motivation and wind up with a “Who’s that guy/group? Oh, he’s/they’re the cause of all your troubles up to this point! Oh, really, um, okay, we’ll fight them then, I guess?” climax final volume.

To be honest, though, running the AP, I haven’t experienced such a problem. My players became engaged with the plot, conflict, and characters of each volume so far… and without losing sight of the pursuit, realized that each situation they’ve happened upon holds potential to get gravely dangerous unless someone intervenes as only they are poised to do. Perhaps your GM is overstating the dire immediacy of the Whisperers compared to the threats in the individual stories, or perhaps it’s just a “Your mileage may vary,” situation about this kind of literary device.

Grand Lodge

Yeah, that's cool.

I guess we as a group just got really into the Whispering Way hook in the first volume and got tunnel vision. We PCs thought it was gonna be a Whispering Way Campaign. (Of course, it seems it IS a Whispering Way Campaign -- I'm still pretty sure that at the end we're gonna have to fight this Whispering Way BBEG before (or probably just after) he frees Tar Baphon or becomes a Lich or whatever.

Sovereign Court

I think the term Drakli is looking for is a frame story, though Erik Freund uses a better term, the string of pearls.

The WW is the overarching story but each chapter expounds on the mystery of what they are, or moreso what this particular sect is doing. Remember the WW is a a wide ranging organization that's active in not only Ustalv, but Geb and Osirion.

Part of the problem is your GM is running the Path without much prep, straight out of the box, but your party is investing heavily in the story. Without the extra work and attention to shoring up the frame stories weak points your GM can't effectively give you what you want.

--Vrocky Horror


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

King of Vrock, would you believe I almost said Frame Story, but actually ended up not doing so because I thought that term might only apply to works where the characters in the framing story are themselves telling unrelated stories; ala Scheherazade in 1,001 Nights (Arabian Nights,) or the pilgrim travelers in Canterbury Tales.

But yeah, that's the gist of it, and String of Pearls does rather well work too.

====

W E Ray, I'm not in a position to say what the final chapter is about, because, you know, spoilers.

But look at it this way. The conclusion of a frame story isn't necessarily what the whole work was about. And yet, the job of a frame story doesn't excuse it from being a good story itself, or from the obligation to have a satisfying conclusion.


W E Ray wrote:

Yeah, that's cool.

I guess we as a group just got really into the Whispering Way hook in the first volume and got tunnel vision. We PCs thought it was gonna be a Whispering Way Campaign. (Of course, it seems it IS a Whispering Way Campaign -- I'm still pretty sure that at the end we're gonna have to fight this Whispering Way BBEG before (or probably just after) he frees Tar Baphon or becomes a Lich or whatever.

I think your group is on the right track. Carrion Crown is a Whispering Way campaign. The themes change in each of the volumes but the meta-plot is all about the Whispering Way. You would do well (and your GM a favor) if you kept concentrating on the Whispering Way as your prime adversary.

For me, as GM, part 4 was a fine adventure and a nice "pearl in the string" but it went too far away from the meta-plot as written. I had to bring my players back into the fold after that one. I did it simply by letting them read through the part 4 AP volume after we were done. It has tons of Dark Tapestry stuff in it and a really great Dark Tapestry bestiary that includes a Star Spawn of Cthullu (CR20). This allowed me to not only share all this inspired material with my players but also showed them that the Dark Tapestry stuff will not play a major role in the rest of the campaign so don't get too distracted by it.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Carrion Crown / "Wake of the Watcher" parts 3 & 4... All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Carrion Crown