I've done a bit of my own work on the CC AP to suit my own world. I've incorporated a ton of ideas from the forums that I really liked. I don't cite people by name, but lots of the ideas for changes show up on this forum.
A few brief notes before I do my outline:
1) This setting adds a lot of Western-style themes and advances the time period to near the 1800's in Earth terms. The gothic elements remain, but this Adventure Path was more Priest and Deadwood than it was Hammer Horror. Some of the trope subversion that came with this was a ton of fun to play with.
2) Keeping with the 1800's Western theme, there is a lot of Dragon Empires immigration, and I've set Ustalav north of the Dragon Empires, rather than the other side of the planet. This makes Caliphas much more akin to San Francisco, and the southern parts of Ustalav much more involved.
3) The action still revolves around Ustalav and the Whispering Way, I just elected to change up some of the areas and add a bit of my own spin to the AP.
4) Taint, from Oriental Adventures/Heroes of Horror also has a significant presence.
This is what I've got done pretty solidly so far. Everything after the beginning of Wake of the Watcher is much hazier.
Haunting of Harrowstone
-The adventure begins with the PCs arriving in town for the funeral as The Argentate Blades (Rival Guide) are leaving in pursuit of some quest or another. The Blades will serve as a counterpoint to the PCs and make appearances in multiple other adventures.
-Sergeant Dun (ToTB), Duristan Silbio Ariesir (BM), Kvalca Sain (BM), Madame Ivanja (EtCR), Horace Croon (WotW), Abraun Chalest (AaD), and Adivion Adrissant appear at the funeral to foreshadow the rest of the adventure path.
-Adivion Adrissant is with Kendra after the will reading but before the PCs leave, and they share a romantic engagement. Lorrimor forced Adivion to break off an engagement with Kendra when Adivion began researching means to contact the Whispering Way, and the two parted ways bitterly. Kendra plans on visiting Adrissant in Caliphas after the PCs have fulfilled the terms of her father's will. Advion will be a Bladebound magus wielding a swordcane, which he hobbles around on due to childhood injury. At this phase, he'll be portrayed as sickly, wealthy, and arrogant, but ultimately of little consequence beyond Kendra's paramour.
-Piper of Illmarsh didn't seem to have much merit, so he'll be the Piper of Ravenmoor now.
Trial of the Beast Part A
-Arc begins with PCs fighting Springheel Jack in skirmishes until the meet up with the Crooked Kin. Some members of the kin are actually the Night Harrows of the Rival Guide. The Harrows pretend to be mundane sideshow freaks, and use the Kin as a convenient excuse to travel the country performing errands for the Way.
-At the time of arrival in Lepidstadt, the theft of the Seastone Effigy hasn't yet occured. Dr. Crowl shows off his collection of antiquities, two items of which are plot significant: The Elder Talisman (Treasury of the Macabre) and the Seastone Effigy. Judge Daramid does her part, but informs the PCs to see Jeminda Anikee to collect their fee. Jeminda, of course, informs the PCs of her missing brother in law...
Feast of Ravenmoor
-Basically the same except the tax collector fled on the river to head south to Caliphas. Allegedly.
Trial of the Beast Part B
-As the PCs approach the town, they hear about the Beast's break-in at the university.
-Anikee pays the party their reward for the Ravenmoor expedition, and says she gave Daramid the fee to hold onto.
-Daramid gives the PCs a letter from Kendra. The letter tells the PCs she is very happy to explore the variety of Caliphas after the small-town of life of Ravengro. She says that Adivion will carry her letter for her, so Adivion is somewhere in the Lepidstadt area. Furthermore, the letter asks the PCs to go to Carrion Hill to collect a collection of books loaned to the Mayor, and says Adivion has her payment. The books are a collection of stories and books her father collected, and were often read to her as a child. Given Lorrimor's travels, he let the Mayor of Carrion Hill borrow them for his own children. Finally, Daramid tells the PCs to visit Crowl if they haven't done so already.
-Searches for Adivion turn up empty at this stage. If the PCs investigate, eventually they find out that Adivion traveled to Ascanor Lodge in the Shudderwood for relaxation. He bought a valuable and ancient ring while in Lepidstadt.
-Crowl gives his information as per normal Trial of the Beast, but laments the Beast has not been captured yet. With no other leads, the PCs head to...
-The Argentate Blades have also answered Mayor Heggry's call to arms. The PCs encounter them at the site above the Sunless Grove. The Argentate Blades serve as rivals in this adventure, albeit haughty and arrogant.
-The Whispering Way traded The Pnakotic Manuscripts for information from Crove regarding means and ways to barter with the skum of Illmarsh. Information hinting, but not explicitly stating this, can be found in Crove's journal in the Asylum.
Trial of the Beast Part C
-Adivion has returned to Lepidstadt before heading south. He'll pay PCs for Kendra's books and also vouch for their character at the trial. Other than this, the Trial of the Beast chapter proceeds as normal, except for stat adjustments.
-A Blightspawn, if it escaped in Ravenmoor, replaces the manticore during the investigation. It's obvious this one is different...
-Estovion's paranoia builds slower. The PCs should spend about a week at the lodge investigating without appearing to. In reading the adventure, it felt like Estovion came too quickly into conflict with the PCs.
-Two groups ultimately flee the Stairway of the Moon: one group travels to Feldgrau, while the other travels to Barovia, a small, misty region in southern Odranto near Lozeri. The PCs learn of the Dark Rider to Barovia after slaying Auren Vrood.
Expedition to Castle Ravenloft
-Strahd is an adherent of the Whispering Way.
1.) AA wants Strahd to raise an army of undead, but Strahd has become dangerous, complacent, and insane. AA wants Strahd to lead the vampires in Ashes at Dawn, if Strahd lives.
2.) If Strahd has to be removed to obtain an artifact (Dayheart) for Carrion Crown, WW will help kill Strahd.
3.) Hags want to take power over the region and raise cults.
4.) Barstoi wants to crush Odranto and Lozeri's control, and seize the province.
5.) Werewolves want to expand territory and depose Strahd for using them as a distraction. Seen as a breeding ground for the next tribal conflict.
-These factions aid or hinder the PCs, and will have significant impact on Ashes at Dawn and Shadows of Gallowspire.
-Vampires in service to Luvick Siervage also try and steal Strahd's research to cement their own power in Caliphas, which is becoming a huge source of conflict as vampire clans from the Dragon Empires are also trying to control the underworld. (Think of it as Mafia vs. Yakuza)
-The wilderness shrines are to Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth, and Azathoth
-Vistani are Scarzni.
-Varikov the Trapper is an agent of the Way, sent to keep an eye out on Strahd. There's a few cultists, but the Dark Rider has already fled north to Sinaria. The PCs, however, will learn throughout the adventure via various NPCs that the Way wants Dayheart as part of the ritual to make the Carrion Crown, while Strahd is expendible, and a useful resource. Ideally, they can kill Strahd and destroy the Dayheart or prevent it from falling into the hands of the Way, forcing them to delay construction of the Carrion Crown.
And Madness Followed
-After dealing with Strahd and escaping Barovia, the PCs track the Dark Rider north to Sinaria. He's traded a copy of The Carcosa Codex for some item held by Sophia Lasilaran. Regardless, the PCs learn that they have delayed the completion of the Carrion Crown, and left the Way scrambling.
-Ardagh replaces Lamid. Karcau replaces Indar.
Works in Progress
-At some point, the PCs visit Caliphas and learn that The Ruby Phoenix Tournament will be being held in islands a short distance off Caliphas this year. The premise being that Carmilla Caliphvaso, Ruby of Caliphas, is attempting to buy into the similarity of ruby titles to raise funds and direct trade and tourism to Caliphas.
-Further information leads them to Illmarsh.
Wake of the Watcher
-Not sure what changes, if any, to make yet.
Ashes at Dawn Part A
-Ashes at Dawn begins normally, with the murders seen as a brutal method of killing from the South.
-Count Strahd has returned to the Court if he survived the Expedition.
-Throughout this adventure, the PCs not only have to prevent the Way-loyal vampires from overthrowing Siervage, but also the presence of the Southern vampires from brutally enforcing their will on Caliphas, as the Chiang-Shi have few compunctions about outright enslaving mortals.
-Adivion Adrissant appears at the Order of the Palatine Eye, trying to get an artifact of some sort from them. Although the PCs have probably figured out his relation to the Whispering Way, the environment and his engagement to Kendra prove problematic for merely executing him. If they haven't figured it out, they will in the Ruby Phoenix Tournament when he appears as the noble sponsor of the Night Harrows.
-PCs can use Galdana as a sponsor to fight in the Ruby Phoenix tournament.
Ruby Phoenix Tournament
-Happens concurrently with Ashes at Dawn as PCs investigate.
-Massive changes to NPC groups to increase challenge.
-Argentate Blades and PCs will actually fight here.
-If the Whispering Way's team wins, they will be able to kickstart the Carrion Crown and recover the loss of the Dayheart, or continue building it if the PCs lost it. The Night Harrows are the Whispering Way team, but decide to mock the PCs by forcing them to fight undead versions of the Argentate Blades in their stead. (This also prevents a TPK)
Ashes at Dawn Part B
-Adventure proceeds as normal, but Kendra, not Galdana is kidnapped.
Shadows of Gallowspire
-Adivion claims that since he married Kendra, he is a blood relative of the Whispering Tyrant and will now serve as his vessel.
You've done some impressive integration work here. As an old-school Ravenloft player, I'm having some trouble accepting that Strahd von Zarovich would be a minor player in the Whispering Way conspiracy--but if your players have never heard the name before, I doubt they'd think twice about it. I'm also not sure why a vampire would follow the Way.
|Brandon Hodge Contributor|