Raiders of the Fever Sea (GM Reference)


Skull & Shackles

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awesome solution tbug:) my party wanted to ambush him but Rosie talked them out of it

Scarab Sages

tbug wrote:

I may have overdone Captain Harrigan's fearsomeness. My players have successfully slain Captain Plugg and First Mate Scourge after the ambush (on their return to the Man's Promise from Bonewrack Isle), and now they're planning on sailing to Port Peril, just like Harrigan wanted Plugg to do. They don't have Plugg's contacts, so their plan is to dock the ship and wait for Harrigan to show up and tell him what happened.

This sounds like a great group to introduce these elements with. They seem better disposed toward Harrigan than most parties (or just more afraid of him), and they might go for an opportunity to redeem him.


tbug wrote:

I may have overdone Captain Harrigan's fearsomeness. My players have successfully slain Captain Plugg and First Mate Scourge after the ambush (on their return to the Man's Promise from Bonewrack Isle), and now they're planning on sailing to Port Peril, just like Harrigan wanted Plugg to do. They don't have Plugg's contacts, so their plan is to dock the ship and wait for Harrigan to show up and tell him what happened.

Perhaps someone with some common sense (Sandara might be an option, or perhaps Rosie ) might remind them that Harrigan was awfully fond of Master Plugg (aka "regards him as something like a son" ), and since there won't be any evidence of Plugg's treachery and mutiny, telling Harrigan that they killed Plugg and Scourge for whatever reason(and it will come out - there are too many loose-tongued pirates aboard) might NOT be a wise chocie.


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With magic (particularly Abadar's truthtelling) it should be a fairly easy matter to determine. There are people on the Man's Promise who hate the PCs, but not enough to lie to Harrigan (particularly while under the effects of magical lie detection). The PCs will say (truthfully) that Plugg and Scourge disobeyed Harrigan's orders and then tried to murder them, at which point they killed Plugg and Scourge in self-defence. Showing up in Port Peril and handing Harrigan the money from the ship (or possibly the ship itself, if they haven't managed to find a buyer by the time the Wormwood arrives in port) will also go a long way to making him think they're telling the truth.

There are lots of ways that I could force them back onto the path instead of letting them do what they want to do, but I'd rather give them free rein and watch things unfold.

@KarlBob I am taking those ideas under serious consideration. Thanks for pointing out that thread!


Lol I made Pluggs last words chuckling, as he dropped to his knees losing grip on his sword, "You he's my father right."

They had heard the rumor but when it was confirmed dramatically acted by me actually dropping to my knees. They was a collective uh oh.


Fitzwalrus wrote:


As I say, I'm happy with RAW but I know my group... ;D

sorry noob ? what does RAW mean?


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Rules As Written

Scarab Sages

tbug - You're welcome. There are some really good threads for this AP.

Gnomezrule - Excellent. I bet they'll be looking over their shoulders for a while.

Lemahu - Another acronym you'll see pretty often is RAI - Rules As Intended.

Sometimes the rules that the developers actually write down don't produce the effects they intended. In really bad cases, the words can be interpreted to mean exactly the opposite of the intended meaning.

RAW vs. RAI isn't usually a big deal if you're just getting together at somebody's house to play, because your GM can just make a house rule to support his or her interpretation. It gets really tricky in Pathfinder Society games, because they're supposed to follow RAW to the letter.


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Shaun wrote:
...My group wasn't big on raiding native villages after the first time they did it and the gunslinger dropped one of the warriors with one shot of his pistol. All the other warriors ran and hid in their huts. The PCs were like "Oh god, we're monsters!" and retreated to the ship. They definitely tack towards the good side of neutral. So, to entice them to another village raid, I had them come across a village being attacked by incutiluses inhabiting fallen warriors. As a repayment for helping them the headman gave them the village's plunder. ...

With my group, I just used slaver villages. Essentially, in the slave trade in the real world, a tribe would raid a rival tribe for slaves that they would sell to the European slave traders. I put a similar set of Mwangi slaver villages and had the party hear about them. They raided them without guilt and rescued slaves, some of which were recruited into the crew.

I added "coins" to the description of the plunder and voila! The encounter runs exactly as written, they get no additional plunder or extra recruits, and the party actively looked for these villages until they felt confident in their piracy skills to stick to the more profitable merchant ships.

Oh and to deal with the cleric purifying the water and missing out on the Dominator encounter, I placed one of the slaver villages they raided upstream from an estuary and had them encounter the Dominator on the way back. Her crew were preparing longboats to go upstream in the morning to get slaves. Again, the encounter ran pretty much exactly as written.


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Anyone want to recommend a guide to running a sandbox? I feel like I have a decent feel on doing it but I enjoy reading how other people do it.

(I thought that the Gnome Stew people had put something out on this kind of game, but now I can't find it.)

My PCs have no one with a Charisma above 10, so they'll be slow in hearing rumours.

Scarab Sages

tbug wrote:

Anyone want to recommend a guide to running a sandbox? I feel like I have a decent feel on doing it but I enjoy reading how other people do it.

(I thought that the Gnome Stew people had put something out on this kind of game, but now I can't find it.)

My PCs have no one with a Charisma above 10, so they'll be slow in hearing rumours.

They might be slow in building Infamy, too.

There's a thread in this message board about running S&S as more of a sandbox.


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Thank-you, sir!

Scarab Sages

You're welcome.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I also want to take a moment to thank the people who suggested that the drought at Rickety's Squibs should have a cause that can be solved. The first thing my players did when they heard about the drought was investigate. I could have shrugged and said "natural causes", but they had more fun tracking down the nasty fey.

This means that they missed the events back in Rickety's Squibs, but I'm going to run a supplemental game where they'll play Sandara and Rosie and company dealing with the naga/swarm/boars/etc.


For my expansion of Rickety Squibs, I had that some swamp hags had dammed up the river to create more of a swamp. They found this out because of the Naga attack, and the villagers worrying that this drought was much worst that previous.

The breaking of the dam release a sudden rush of water which ended up disturbing the giant wasps. So when they returned back to Ricketys they saw the swarm of wasps flying towards the villagers and arrived back just as that battle was going on.

I then ran everything as in the book.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think that I'm going to have some vegepygmies upriver diverting some water flow to their 'new god' a yellow musk creeper. Will seed that by having the wasps be zombies to explain more of the fights at Squibs.

Scarab Sages

Seannoss wrote:
I think that I'm going to have some vegepygmies upriver diverting some water flow to their 'new god' a yellow musk creeper. Will seed that by having the wasps be zombies to explain more of the fights at Squibs.

That sounds like a good way to tie the fights together.


I didn't find stats for Cyvantris Tisserond, captain of Famished Mane. I'm missing something?


If I recall, there is a stat block somewhere at the beginning of Part II that is supposed to be used for all ship's officers. it's an aristocrat/expert or some other multiclass that includes aristocrat. Find that and it's your stat block for all ship's officers unless otherwise noted.


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She's a non-combatant, so her stays weren't included or possibly cut during the editing process


I'm combining book 2 with Plunder and Peril. I'm starting he campaign as Raiders of the Fever Sea, then my group is going to meet Lanteri (not sure how yet, maybe they need crew, maybe they capture her ship) and she's going to try bend them to her will in the promise of great treasure.

I think they could still "Crack the Rock" as well and maybe even finish the treasure hunt in Fever Sea. All the 'sandbox' events can be put together at any time.

I think its going to be a wild ride, and it gives the PC's options in what they want to do. and I'll just follow their choices.

Has anyone else tried this?


LadyIrithyl wrote:

For my expansion of Rickety Squibs, I had that some swamp hags had dammed up the river to create more of a swamp. They found this out because of the Naga attack, and the villagers worrying that this drought was much worst that previous.

The breaking of the dam release a sudden rush of water which ended up disturbing the giant wasps. So when they returned back to Ricketys they saw the swarm of wasps flying towards the villagers and arrived back just as that battle was going on.

That's perfect!


Just a slight bit of thread necromancy going on here. :)

Does anyone have a nice image of "Inkskin" Locke's map? I was certain there would be one somewhere, but my Google-fu is failing me. (Do people even say "Google-fu" anymore? I'm getting old)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Quick question for my fellow Skull and Shackles DMs who might be more rules savvy.

I was just reading over the encounter with the Ancient Mariner. It's reasonable to assume that my entire party will have water breathing up at the start of this fight.

Does that completely trivialize Curse of the Deep or does its supernatural nature just ignore water breathing?

Thanks for any help you can give.

Shadow Lodge

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rkotitan wrote:

Quick question for my fellow Skull and Shackles DMs who might be more rules savvy.

I was just reading over the encounter with the Ancient Mariner. It's reasonable to assume that my entire party will have water breathing up at the start of this fight.

Does that completely trivialize Curse of the Deep or does its supernatural nature just ignore water breathing?

Thanks for any help you can give.

Easy. It's right there in the book:

The Ancient Mariner wrote:
The creature’s cursed waters are so foul that its curse of the deep ability works even if its victim has the ability to breath underwater.

They even misspelled "breathe" for you.

I have to scale up all of the encounters for my group, so I made the anchor he was chained to into a custom magic item. I called it a "Doom Anchor" that serves as an altar to Besmara with a permanent Desecrate effect on it. And I maxed out the mariner's HP.
Almost got one of them.


For part 13: The Frying Pan if the PC's somehow manage to take the Dominator do they get XP for all 120 marines and the captain (~50000xp) or just the ones they killed? Also do they get XP for the ship itself CR9 in addition to the crew?


dkp44 wrote:
For part 13: The Frying Pan if the PC's somehow manage to take the Dominator do they get XP for all 120 marines and the captain (~50000xp) or just the ones they killed? Also do they get XP for the ship itself CR9 in addition to the crew?

The PCs should in no way be encouraged or capable of taking The Dominator. I know that there are others in this thread that have allowed it, but there are also numerous threads that detail the problems of letting that happen as well. We're talking about a ship that is an experienced and capable pirate hunting vessel. It's use is to present Cheliax as a threat, and is best used as a reoccuring villain. I strongly encourage you to not let your PCs take the vessel under any circumstances, given that as written, simply escaping The Dominator can lead to TPKs.


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This would be a CR 20 or so encounter and so as per the guidance it is a fight that can only be won by GM Fiat and so is therefore worth 0 experience.
Seriously there is no way 5th level or less pc's can defeat 196 people including a 10th level fighter and a 6th level Cavalier (and if I was going to detail the whole crew I would include at least a 6th level Asmodean cleric and a 6th level Wizard or Sorceror) and then 120 2nd level fighters unless the GM lets them , if you are going to do that just give them whatever level you want


Just looking for some feedback on the ideas below...

My PCs have just taken the "Devil's Due" (A Chelish renamed version of the "Man's Promise") and this week will be shipwrecked at Bonewrack Isle.

The first five sessions were a bit dodgy as the PCs hated being press-ganged, and thought they could arrange a mutiny really quickly to take the Wormwood... .

Sandara managed to talk them out of it, but thanks to their lack of "respect" for Scourge and Plugg they already had a keelhauling (Tharak)... but he easily survived.

I added a side-trek to a tiny atoll (to get more fresh fruit) to get them off the Wormwood and cool things down a bit. Included some Cyclopean ruins where pirates had hidden a bit of treasure.

This was kinda added on the fly, but the pirate loot has since become part of a revised story...

It will turn out that the treasure belonged to Whalebone Pilk, so he and his ghost ship will come looking for the PCs later, in Book 2.

I was thinking of changing Tidewater Rock to be Whalebone's old fortress, and have the "lady" there be his now-vampiric wife, with more undead (wights) as her guards... but still a bit sketchy on details.

Also... I keep having this crazy idea that Sandara is actually an aspect/avatar of Besmara... but not sure what impact that might have or where I will go with it.

Thoughts?


Caen wrote:

Just looking for some feedback on the ideas below...

My PCs have just taken the "Devil's Due" (A Chelish renamed version of the "Man's Promise") and this week will be shipwrecked at Bonewrack Isle.

The first five sessions were a bit dodgy as the PCs hated being press-ganged, and thought they could arrange a mutiny really quickly to take the Wormwood... .

Sandara managed to talk them out of it, but thanks to their lack of "respect" for Scourge and Plugg they already had a keelhauling (Tharak)... but he easily survived.

I added a side-trek to a tiny atoll (to get more fresh fruit) to get them off the Wormwood and cool things down a bit. Included some Cyclopean ruins where pirates had hidden a bit of treasure.

This was kinda added on the fly, but the pirate loot has since become part of a revised story...

It will turn out that the treasure belonged to Whalebone Pilk, so he and his ghost ship will come looking for the PCs later, in Book 2.

I was thinking of changing Tidewater Rock to be Whalebone's old fortress, and have the "lady" there be his now-vampiric wife, with more undead (wights) as her guards... but still a bit sketchy on details.

Also... I keep having this crazy idea that Sandara is actually an aspect/avatar of Besmara... but not sure what impact that might have or where I will go with it.

Thoughts?

A new idea...

I think that I will have Sandara turn out to be an agent of Tessa Fairwind, investigating her suspicions of Harrigan / Cheliax.

She seems far too important an NPC to just be another random press-ganged person, especially in my campaign.

But she will stay very quiet on her mission right up until when the PCs meet Tessa. Should be a nice reveal (if i can keep her alive).

Shadow Lodge

Caen wrote:
Caen wrote:

Just looking for some feedback on the ideas below...

My PCs have just taken the "Devil's Due" (A Chelish renamed version of the "Man's Promise") and this week will be shipwrecked at Bonewrack Isle.

The first five sessions were a bit dodgy as the PCs hated being press-ganged, and thought they could arrange a mutiny really quickly to take the Wormwood... .

Sandara managed to talk them out of it, but thanks to their lack of "respect" for Scourge and Plugg they already had a keelhauling (Tharak)... but he easily survived.

I added a side-trek to a tiny atoll (to get more fresh fruit) to get them off the Wormwood and cool things down a bit. Included some Cyclopean ruins where pirates had hidden a bit of treasure.

This was kinda added on the fly, but the pirate loot has since become part of a revised story...

It will turn out that the treasure belonged to Whalebone Pilk, so he and his ghost ship will come looking for the PCs later, in Book 2.

I was thinking of changing Tidewater Rock to be Whalebone's old fortress, and have the "lady" there be his now-vampiric wife, with more undead (wights) as her guards... but still a bit sketchy on details.

Also... I keep having this crazy idea that Sandara is actually an aspect/avatar of Besmara... but not sure what impact that might have or where I will go with it.

Thoughts?

A new idea...

I think that I will have Sandara turn out to be an agent of Tessa Fairwind, investigating her suspicions of Harrigan / Cheliax.

She seems far too important an NPC to just be another random press-ganged person, especially in my campaign.

But she will stay very quiet on her mission right up until when the PCs meet Tessa. Should be a nice reveal (if i can keep her alive).

I like how you modified the adventure so far.

The cyclopean ruins are cool and will help bring a sense of continuity later in the AP.

Making Sandara an avatar of Besmara could be interesting, and an easy way for Besmara (you) to communicate with the crew about divine matters.
Making her an agent of Tessa Fairwind would probably be easier.

I think there's a timeline issue with changing Tidewater Rock to be Pilk's fortress. His story took place about 100 years before the events in S&S.
You might have a tough time tying in the other events in book 2 if you do that.

Book 2 spoiler:
If Lady Smythee and crew are vampires or wights (or whatever), why would Krellort want to raid them? A vampire is super dangerous.
They wouldn't have any supplies worth taking and would likely kill any Sahuagin raiders.

You might have a tough time getting the story back on track towards Mancatcher cove.
I guess it could be rewritten to spring from a chance encounter with the Thresher. The PCs could discover the map that way... and maybe Sandara tells them about the legend?

You can always make another island somewhere with a vampire fortress that needs a good pillaging.


The changes sound great if that works for your campaign. It shouldn't be too hard to reconcile with later events.

Spoiler:
Krellort doesn't specifically want to raid Tidewater Rock. He wants vengeance on the PCs for the death of the sahuagin from the previous encounter, especially if the PCs made off with the deep platinum amulet. The scripted vengeance encounter only occurs after Krellort has the PCs tracked to Tidewater Rock. Shouldn't matter if the previous occupant was fallen Galt nobility or undead. (Or both.)


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While I'm pulling from multiple threads I didn't want to post in them all so I'm posting here...

My table is giving up on another campaign by a third party publisher (who shall not be named but only completed 2 out of 6 books), and we're starting S&S tomorrow. They are so psyched it's incredible. I've never seen a group so excited to start a campaign. To that end and to the point of this post...

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has been posting their adjustments to make this a really fun adventure and make the most of its sandbox elements. Whether it's plugging in items from Dragon magazine, third party publishers like Legendary Games, or Paizo's own modules, I think I've got a really fun and exciting campaign ahead for my players. I'm super grateful and really looking forward to it.

We're actually going to be starting at level 4 between books 1 and 2. I'm narrating the backstory to the Wormwood, then the players will find themselves on the Mans Promise when they come across a sinking vessel a la Salvage Operation from one of the magazines (in which they'll find gear enabling them to mutiny against Plugg and Scourge). After that to Rickety Squibbs where we'll skip the water naga but hit the other points with the addition of a fiendish enlarged wasp at the Lookout along with an accuser devil. The wasp is expected to go down but the wasp will be setting the stage for Chelish influence throughout the campaign. We'll be swapping our man catcher cove for something from Dead Mans Chest and on we go.

Anyway, super excited for this and just wanted to say thanks to all the GMs before me for their ideas.


The catch-all GM answer:

"Yes, that is mysterious isn't it?"

(And then say no more, leaving the answer a mystery)

My group never questioned it.

This response is great, because players will usually come up with their own answer to the question if given time to think about it. Saves the GM the trouble.

Andrew


Story Archer wrote:
Terrivar wrote:
I probably missed it some where, but what happens to the crew assigned to take "commandeered" ships to port to sell? Any ideas on how to get them back to the ship or are they released from service (and if that's the case, what happens to the money)?

We usually only take Chellish and slaver ships, the others having been given 'The Maiden's Promise', and usually only have one by the time we're ready to make port and sell plunder, so we escort it to port ourselves.

Incidentally, the 'Maiden's Promise' is both the name of our ship and the means by which we've been gaining infamy. Our female captain (who personally prefers female company) has had the story spread about her that she is a virgin (lie) and that she and her ship will only by captured by the man who tames her heart. The 'promise' is one given to every non-slaver, non-Chellish ship we take, that if they surrender without a fight we will only take their cargo and their captain for ransom, leaving all of the rest of ship's officers free to sail their ship home. It took a while for the tale to spread, but at this point we've already had three ships surrender to us without a fight and in two cases the ships mutinied against their captain to do so.

Our 'Maiden' captain has become something of a minor living legend already, and now that she has become the frequent if clandestine lover of Tessa Fairwind, the two have worked together to make that legend grow.

My group has a similar policy on pirating. They're honorable compared to most pirates, attacking and killing only if opposed, but accepting an honorable surrender...once. Usually they just settle for the plunder and items taken from combatants, if any. Chelish and scummier pirates can expect to lose their ships to sale, which helps finance both upgrades to the ship and personal purchases for advancement. Since all the mundane loot goes into the Quartermaster's Room I'm totally fine with that. They pass up a lot of money by keeping it well stocked.

Andrew

Grand Lodge

Hope this is the right place to post this.

My table is about halfway through book 2 and yesterday we ran through the “into the frying pan” event. As per expected, the players expressed an interest in taking the dominator. I’m all for this and want to set something up to give them “high risk, high reward” chance.
Has anyone that’s gone through this got any pointers? Any decent resources for ship maps and possible encounter ideas (I don’t want to just throw combat after combat at them)?
Anyone else think that the stats presented for the dominator are a bit underwhelming for such a feared pirate hunter?

Thanks in advance


I think the 22 siege weapons and 120 squares of sails make for a pretty fitting pirate hunter. To throw some other stats at you, you've got 120 CR 1 Sailors, 14 CR 3 Officers, the CR 5 Commander, and the CR 9 Captain. The Commander is actually just the ship's Bosun, so it wouldn't be totally unreasonable to assume that there's also a CR 5-6 First Mate in there somewhere, as well. The sailors are no pirates, but are highly-trained Chelish Marines, who will definitely raise an alarm at the first sign of trouble, rallying the entire ship, which will likely mobilize into groups of 3 or 4 Marines and 1 Officer (a CR 5-ish encounter). The Captain would most likely step in before too many of these groups fell, because she's not eager to strand herself in the Fever Sea by letting all of her sailors perish wave-after-wave. She would likely send her Commander in with another group of 3-4 Marines and an Officer (a CR 7 encounter) while she prepared by grabbing her weapons and drinking some potions. She would then enter combat with 2 Officers, while 3-4 Marines supported them with ranged attacks (a CR 10 encounter, possibly a CR 11 encounter if including a First Mate).

Assuming this all came to pass, I'd estimate the PC's needing to mow down no less than 25 NPC's. If the PC's are still standing after this, more than half of the officers would still remain, and the Marines would still be 100 strong.

I know you said you wanted to humor the PC's with this plan in a way that didn't involve lots and lots of combat, but I'm just laying out what I think would be the logical progression of the situation, which would be lots and lots of combat, and when that's over, even more combat. I'm also getting at my opinion, which is that no group of 5th-6th level PC's could reasonably pull this off - the encounter and opposition are presented in such a way as to make it crystal clear that this isn't supposed to be a winnable fight.

That said, if you REALLY wanted to take a shot at taking the Dominator, it WOULD be best done by avoiding combat as much as possible, anyway. You could run it as a Heist, which lends itself to sneaking around a location, bypassing obstacles, and reaching a goal, all while avoiding combat as often as possible. Most Heists actually fail if combat does occur. The goal in this case could be the captain's cabin, at which time, they COULD have a combat with the captain, and perhaps leave her alive as a hostage, ordering all officers and all Marines (except what is needed to pilot the ship after the PC's crew joins them) to leave the ship and head for shore. As for how you could run the Heist, well, that's a different story. The link I left has a lot of helpful info on the subject. Finding a defector inside the Dominator early on (maybe they have a brig) could be helpful, and capturing and interrogating a Marine could reveal guard patrol rotations and the ship's layout. They could find some unused uniforms they could use to disguise themselves as Marines (and maybe one officer), though if any of the PC's are of an unusual race, that PC would likely need to find another way to get around, short of sneaking (or maybe the disguised PC's could pretend to have captured that PC, and are taking him in for questioning). There are a lot of fun options, once you give it some thought, to give the PC's more info or access throughout this huge ship on their long trip to the main deck and to the Captain's Cabin. Maybe once they get into the Captain's Cabin, they find it empty, and it goes from an infiltration Heist to a Search and Follow Heist, until they can get the Captain by herself.

Hope some of this helped with your situation!


I am a rather new GM running this adventure (this is my first long run). I am just a bit curious to get a little bit of grip on how thing evolve in your games, as I have the feeling the core path advancement is just a little slow. The players are making some progress every session we play, but at the same time, there is so much to explore that there might be the risk for them to drown in sidequests. They have a rather low skillset for collecting infamy points (and I think the required DC is also a bit high with DC25 for APL5). They are now at only 4 infamy points and I have the feeling it would take forever to get them to a despicable status.

They are now heading towards Ushinawa Isles, where they might run into a local who lost his daughter and who will spread their story for them if they can return his little girl safely. This way they might get some additional infamy, not sure how much, but maybe up to 5 points over time just to help them out a little bit. As they are still below 10, they also don't have much greed for the points, as they also have no clue what rewards await for reaching the new level. They visited Tidewater Rock once, and charmed the Lady rather well. I think that if they return that the Sahuagin attack might just have taken place, and that they can get a definite alliance if they help to guard the Rock for a few days (despite the lack of reputation).

In the meanwhile, they don't have a very strong sense what is expected from them. I did explain them that I did think they were making decent progress and that the story has its ups and downs in terms of railroad/sandbox (now very much being at the sandbox end). And I also think it makes sense that don't really know what to expect as they are just a new set of characters first entering this harsh archipelago environment. I think I can handle that by warning them (again) that the Shackles is very dangerous for non-free captains without reputation, once they reach Ushinawa Isles. I might send out some ships to track/hunt them down the further they sail into the archipelago, as long as they don't have the letter of marque. Maybe to indicate these battles should come off as unwinnable, I think they will hunt the partyship with a small fleet.

I don't know whether anyone has some tips, but otherwise it is already nice to have a place to vent my doubts and thoughts. I think one of the hardest things is the distribution of information. I gave them several leads, but only some of these reflect sidequests and some of them are essential to the storyline.

For now, I asked them regularly after a session whether they liked the adventure, they say they do, but they also indicate they don't really know what to do. I also enjoy the sessions, especially as every session is rather different and I think I can keep up this variation for the foreseeable future. So in that regard, so far, so good. But they are in for 9 sessions (of full afternoons) and I think it might take quite a few more before they actually reach Port Peril (where, in my opinion, the long-run story really accelerates). It feels a bit weird for the party to be so long invested in a game without having a clear long-term goal ahead, other than wishing their former captain dead.


It can be frustrating not having a clear goal in Book 2. Something to help keep your players reassured that they haven't missed something is to just be transparent with them. Tell them that in addition to reaching 20 Infamy, their big goals for the book are to own Tidewater Rock and claim the treasure of Mancatcher Cove. At which point, they'll probably ask "What's Mancatcher Cove?", because the book doesn't even entertain the possibility of the players knowing about it before they meet and kill Isabella. Well, I personally felt it was a mistake in pacing to withhold the info until Isabella attacks, because in the meantime, the players could easily lose interest in the whole thing because their characters have no heading.

There are only so many unique encounters in the book, and only so many times the players will be willing to run through another generic "raid the ship/village" encounter before the whole thing gets stale. If your players are having trouble earning Infamy, that can exacerbate the problem, because the story can't progress until they get at least 10 Infamy, which allows them to (diplomatically) take Tidewater Rock, which allows Isabella's part in the story to begin to progress, and Part 1 of Book 3 can't really start until they earn 20 Infamy, though I can't remember if this is ever explicitly stated in Book 2. You're doing a good job of working around this problem, giving them a quest that will earn them Infamy over time with the Ushinowa Pirate's daughter, and with your plan to alter the circumstances to allow them to diplomatically take Tidewater Rock while having less than 10 Infamy. Another option would be - if they're not already doing it - to let the other PC's who AREN'T making the Infamy check to roll to assist the PC who IS. You could also let them recruit an NPC who has a more silver tongue, and have this NPC roll for Infamy.


Cuup wrote:
It can be frustrating not having a clear goal in Book 2.
Yeah, I think that is where my doubt came from
Cuup wrote:
Something to help keep your players reassured that they haven't missed something is to just be transparent with them. Tell them that in addition to reaching 20 Infamy, their big goals for the book are to own Tidewater Rock and claim the treasure of Mancatcher Cove.

I indeed already namedropped it with the rumours of Wolfe, that a big horde was still around somewhere, but that no maps remain. So that runs smoothly so far

Cuup wrote:

At which point, they'll probably ask "What's Mancatcher Cove?", because the book doesn't even entertain the possibility of the players knowing about it before they meet and kill Isabella. Well, I personally felt it was a mistake in pacing to withhold the info until Isabella attacks, because in the meantime, the players could easily lose interest in the whole thing because their characters have no heading.

There are only so many unique encounters in the book, and only so many times the players will be willing to run through another generic "raid the ship/village" encounter before the whole thing gets stale.

So far they only successfully raided one ship, and one got away, where they saw a caged animal on deck. They might run into that ship again, I think they would be ok looting a few more, but it indeed needs some flavor, as the one I describe here.
Cuup wrote:
If your players are having trouble earning Infamy, that can exacerbate the problem, because the story can't progress until they get at least 10 Infamy, which allows them to (diplomatically) take Tidewater Rock, which allows Isabella's part in the story to begin to progress, and Part 1 of Book 3 can't really start until they earn 20 Infamy, though I can't remember if this is ever explicitly stated in Book 2.
Yeah, I read ahead and realized that, but I do think I should let them gain infamy a bit quicker to keep the story appealing
Cuup wrote:
You're doing a good job of working around this problem, giving them a quest that will earn them Infamy over time with the Ushinowa Pirate's daughter, and with your plan to alter the circumstances to allow them to diplomatically take Tidewater Rock while having less than 10 Infamy. Another option would be - if they're not already doing it - to let the other PC's who AREN'T making the Infamy check to roll to assist the PC who IS. You could also let them recruit an NPC who has a more silver tongue, and have this NPC roll for Infamy.

I don't think they did that so far, or maybe I even accidentally disallowed aid another on this roll, but that would indeed also be a solution.

Thanks for the ideas and confirmation that it is mainly the adventure path rather than me that the progress is on the slow side, helps the confidence. :D

I think it should be fine, and maybe, if they receive the Ushinawa infamy plus meeting Pike, that they can actually reach the 10 points before returning, but I think it is not cool to stop the story progress because of this threshold.
And if they can see that helping others on isles could also get them infamy, I might repeat the trick for them to reach the 20. Or, alternatively, I might let go of this requirement before they can apply for the letter, I will have to see how the story proceeds. Luckily I have time enough for that decision ;) .


Just a small update after two more episodes. The party went to Genzei and was introduced the side quest to save the local farmer's daughter, who would tell their story for them (because they have difficulties gathering infamy). After returning from this encounter they were still a bit in the dark what they were supposed to do.

I had a few storylines ready for them, a random encounter based on one of the backstories, the plunder and perill treasure hunt story, and thirdly, I let Lady Smythee use Sending, telling tell the party she expected a Sahuagin attack (they were sneaking all over the Isle).

The party rushed in full speed back to Tidewater Rock, just in time to save Birney.
Other choices that would have significantly different outcomes for the storyline as TWR would possobly be overrun, if they had chosen differently. Now the first encounter had a few Sahuagin slipping away, and they could have informed Isabella about the presence of the party at TWR, who was already hunting for them, in this part of the Shackles :)

As Lady Smythee knew these attacks usually come in waves, she asked for their support for the next few days in exchange for a Shackles marriage. They agreed, stood guard for the day, and the next day Sahuagin came for the entrance of the tower, destroyed the entrance, and then tried to flee. The party noticed the creatures didn't want to enter and realized something more might be coming. They quickly rebuilt the door
Now, the night has fallen, the episode ended after they rolled initiative for the encounter with Isabella, after she broke down the door and flew to the top of the tower. The party, not really well-suited for magic-using opponents fears a TPK, so this was a nice high tension break before the next episode :P

I am quite curious how tough this fight will be, as they used up quite much of their firepower in the encounter earlier that night (which I had made a little tougher). I will make sure Lady Smythee and her bodyguard will assist, and will hope for the best.

Regarding infamy points, one from cracking TWR, and they received a few points with kind regards from the Ushinawa Isles. These infamy points will soon stop coming from Ushinawa, as the local farmer will be banned from Genzei, or hanged, as it comes out he asked these random external people to help him out, which is seen as weak and shameful and will not be tolerated by the local authorities. But at least they are better on schedule to at least reach the a despicable status on time for their travel towards Port Peril.


An alternate development to consider for the Genzei story: according to the book Isles of the Shackles, visitors would often find themselves pulled in multiple different directions by the noble families who make a habit of entwining outsiders in their politics. Instead of being killed for getting help from an outsider, maybe another family reaches out to the PC's, beginning this cycle. Infamy points become harder to earn from completed quests as rival families intervene until their own problems are solved.

The Isabella fight is very tough, especially if your group doesn't have ranged combat covered very well. She can fly around, getting a good positioning, and hitting (usually) multiple PC's for 9d6 Electricity with her Lightning Bolt. That's 31.5 average damage. That's not unlikely to two-hit KO the group's tank. And that's just one of her spells (which she can cast 7 times per day). She can also trap PC's in an Aqueous Orb, Summon Monsters, and then there's the almighty Geyser. It's a tough fight if she's able to keep her distance and is allowed to really flex on her enemies with all her offensive spells. The best strategy the PC's can have is to just not fight her on the roof - retreat inside and let her come to them, where she can't maneuver as well. Whether or not they think of that, though is another thing.


Cool idea about Genzei, I had some other side quests written in that area, shouldn't be too much trouble to intertwine some political intrige.

Regarding the fight, I figured as much that they should get some cover.
If they don't figure this out really quickly, I think I might steer it a bit, e.g. Lady Smythee suggesting that the Rock is a good defensive position. But on the other hand, they also felt it could be a TPK, so probably they will try to think hard about options to get out of harms way/ direct line of fire.

Alternatively, the helpful NPCs could be a bit stronger than written, the party is hoping to have gathered a useful, powerful ally. Not really leaning towards this option though, as I think the PCs should of course remain the heroes, a bit lame/an easy out to make it more of an NPC-cinematic story/encounter

I'll think about it, I still have till mid-June to figure it out. :P


Just my two cents, I would just like to share my prep a bit (A)

I have been sitting and waiting for the battle for a while now, still 3 weeks before the gamenight, have been building a 3D tidewater rock in the meanwhile. Nothing all too fancy, but maybe inspiring to some (:

TWR (work in progress):

3D TWR - Work in progress
The floorplan will be reprinted to better fit the size of the tower, and I might dress up the walls a bit more :)

Furthermore, I have been thinking to expand the following Manchester storyline a bit. I would like the party to really have to search a bit more to unfold the mysteries of the treasure map, rather than have a single roll, some added info and sail right to the location. Maybe ask around a bit about some of the hints.

This might also be a good way to implement some additional social interaction to be really motivate them to become free captains. I planted this seed a few times now, but I think this species might need more water and fertiliser. I will explain them that friendly harbors will not charge costs to free captains and that traveling through the Shackles will be the end for most merchant ships sooner or later.

Also, my players previously skipped Bonewrack Isle, and I plan to refit it to make it more suitable for lvl6 characters (ghasts instead of ghouls, Brute chokers, dire frogs etc). In the stockade, I added a suicide letter, with a few seeds for plot hooks and forecasting. I will leave out the grindylow crawl, although there is still a flock reciding there. They will have left there art on the isle, but I am not planning to have them chase/interact with the party.
The fist will become the finger, a bit thinner and taller, and famous for its shiny fingernail, which is naturally formed from a smooth pyrite material, reflecting the sunlight for most part of the day. This is where they will have to stand at dawn.

suicide letter:

Dear reader,

I am sorry for you to read this message, as it means you ended up on this vile isle too. Stranded on this godforsaken Isle, I might have gotten what I deserved. We should never have brought ghouls to the fight.

I told Harry, this fever will only spread death upon all of us. We must find a better way to win our war. I held them off as long as I could, but one of those damn musquitos got me. But I will not give in to help them out. I will choose my own fate.

To my beloved Zarta and my boy Trato, wherever he may be, I have always loved you and hope you two will ever meet again. I am sorry I haven't been able to unite our family.

Love,
Captain Aaron Ivy Dralneen


I slightly adjusted the tattoo text too:
tattoo text:
Briefly from the fingertip, do not miss
The mirrored glow of the Dawnflower’s very first kiss

Spot the Grave Ladys prizetooth, beloved by your grace.
Far far away, in the blue bight’s embrace

The Caps wayward orb, simply climb aboard,
Dig and claim the riches of the old king’s hoard

Oh, yeah, one other thing I wanted to get off my chest, my pirate party is still not very experienced on the sea battles, they have only successfully raided one, let one get away, fled twice from other pirate ships (Svard and a sidestory). They find it difficult to judge how survivable different encounters are. When we had a sidequest encounter on the land of Ushinawa Isles, they found it very comforting that they knew they could get away if they got cold feet.

Maybe I have not been feeding them enough info as it goes, or frightened them too much in the beginning, as I did explain them upfront it could be a quite rough and posibly deadly campaign. Anyway, the two major anchor points are still very positive, everyone is still very much engaged, and they are still making progress, if they don't accidantially TPK in the upcoming battle :P

If anyone has anything cool to add, or a good reason why not to do some or any of this, feedback is very welcome. This is my first longrunning campaign, so I am open for any cool suggestions :)

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