Kingmaker and the King In Yellow (Suggestions Welcome!)


Shadow Lodge

So as some of you may know from my campaign thread, IMC during the 1 year celebration of the founding of my PC's kingdom, I ran Carnival of Tears module. Things got out of hand and my party waited too long and ended up getting 80% of their town's population killed by the malevolent fey, in addition to having one of their party members killed during the event.

Due to the devastating effect this would have had on the campaign, I decided to get creative. While the spirit of the dead PC Iorweth took his journey to the afterlife after being turned to paste by a lumber planing machine, he was intercepted by a tall, imposing figure clad in Yellow robes, his face hidden as he made an offer to the young wizard. He could help undo all the death and destruction his inaction and drunken stupidity caused (this character had gotten severely hammered during the festival and thus was heavily impaired when the fighting broke out) by striking a deal with the figure. It would bring back all those citizens who had perished due to the evil fey's cruelty and erase the memory of the massacre from everyone's memory (save the party), if Iorweth agreed on behalf of the party to pay an undisclosed price in 10 years time. Iorweth struck this bargain and the fledgling kingdom was saved.

The 10 year mark for the debt to be paid is nearing. Obviously the figure Iorweth met is Hastur, the King in Yellow, and nothing about this deal is good. There are so many things that could happen here when he comes calling that I wanted to open it up to my fellow DMs and see if we can't put our heads together and come up something rightfully epic.

The deal saved about 3,000 lives.. Right now the kingdom has grown and there's well over ten times that amount of people living in my party's main kingdom.

I want to come up with something special as this is the King in Yellow after all. I also want to begin foreshadowing it as I am 4-5 years out from the date but things are going by quickly. The party is just coming off a 2 year downtime and the next downtime may be even longer. Perhaps a play begins showing in the local theaters...

So, what say you my peers?

I ran a dungeon magazine adventure in Eberron based on the King in Yellow (Under the Yellow Sign, I think...). The evil bad guys were bards enacting a play, and the end of the play would have unleashed the King.

You might want to mine that resource... maybe have them run (temporarily) some other PCs... then their main PCs hear of it afterwards. You can slaughter the temporary PCs. (have the XP carry over to their main PCs).

All those people that came back? Hastur had to probably personally fetch their souls from the Boneyard/Fugue Plane/Tartarus or Elysium/whatever your World Of The Dead is. Nothing an Elder Evil touches remains untainted....

The main question otherwise is "What does Hastur want?" If you/we can answer that question, what he does should be pretty clear-cut from there.

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Harsh version: on the 10th anniversary Iorweth becomes a Spawn of Hastur while leading up to it 3,000 unsuspecting souls begin forming troups to perform the blasphemous play all across the kingdom - and likely throughout the River Kingdoms, Brevoy, Iobaria, Numeria, Galt and a few tucking off into Kyonin and points south. Figure 50 people per troupe, so ... 60 troupes.

The first clues are subtle. Theatres across the kingdom(s) attract the interest of these troupes. A few exceptionally gifted (and a bit "eccentric") performers stand out, perhaps one of them performs a clue before the court. Yellow becomes the "in" color amongst the kingdom's fashionistas, leading the trend - perhaps without being particularly consciously aware of it - is Iorwen. Minor kingdom events seem to steer clear of those places flying the "yellow banner". Iorwen feels the urge to support the performing arts.

Closer to time - the winter solstice or anniversary date - Iorwen or his agents/ govornment issued minions work diligently to ensure that all of the troupes that they can support are able to perform the play on the same day starting at the same time...

Nothing the king in yellow touches remains pure... but I wouldn't call it evil. Corrupt, twisted, strange. Not evil. Perhaps more important, the Elder Gods are ancient and think far more long term. I'd build up the mood with all kinds of apocalyptic foreshadowing like Turin suggested, but when the time comes the demands are strange, minor, and apparently harmless.
The demand may even appear beneficial. Perhaps they need to craft an item based on instructions provided and then transport it to the Worldwound where it will close the dimensional rifts permanently.
Or they craft a weapon that is of great use to them and the price is that they have to use it to slay the BBEG.

The real horror is that the players know that something is going on that is beyond them, something they don't understand. The only price they see is the corruption from the artifact they created; maybe insanity, maybe a Warhammer style corruption (or gift of the ruinous powers) if you have access to the books. And yet it's too powerful and useful not to use. And try to present the supposed target as something good, something the players may already want to do.

The Elder Gods are not about open displays of power; no mortal can challenge them, after all. And where's the fun in destroying the campaign with an apocalypse? Even if the players win, they'd be left with ashes of a former kingdom.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ask for Vordekai's Eye

Shadow Lodge

Haha, they destroyed the Occulus IMC.

The big delivery for 60 simultaneous performances of The King in Yellow could be something extraordinarily subtle: the barriers represented by Golarion's gawds are weakened while simultaneously Hastur's presence on your Golarion grows in two big leaps. First leap are the three thousand 'touched souls' forever carrying within them the taint of Hastur. Think 'the Innsmouth look' with the different theme. The second leap arises from the numerous simultaneous performances 'touching' the minds and souls of all those in attendance. The influence of the Great Old Ones jumps dramatically in number and subtlety twice in a decade. If 200 attend each performance, most of whom are generally societal upper and middle classes, the Great Old Ones have directly touched 15 thousand souls.

Subsequent performances can spread the cult even further over time. Fittingly it is random, unpredictable and undirected except when Hastur as the King in Yellow nudges his minions here and there...

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DoomCrow wrote:
Haha, they destroyed the Occulus IMC.

Why is that Hastur's problem?

They broke it, now they have to fix it.

Turin, I would agree that such a subtle increase in their power would work, but was it really subtle? I mean, resurrecting thousands, practically rewinding time several hours (since that's how long some of them would have been dead) is perhaps something mortals would miss, but gods? Especially Pharasma should be very aware of what happened. So while I would agree that there is some taint in those returned, using that taint would actually attract more attention. Perhaps one of them will write down the play for future generations to find, but that's the extend to which I would use them.

Old Drake,

I'm really just throwing out ideas as they occur. Pharasma may or may not notice who gets plucked off the back of the judgement line. Well, ok, I'm sure she does. What she does about it is another matter. Maybe send Inquisitors to suss out what's going on? The Great Old Ones are rather inscrutable.

There sure won't be any Golarion non_believers in that crowd!

In many of the Hastur-tainted the effects won't be much more pronounced that some sort of 'look', a penchant for the performing arts and (most importantly) Great Old Ones worship on a larger, communal scale than the norm. Exceptional cultists arise more often, go looking for things like the Pnakotic Manuscripts or the like.

I can see that there may well be a govornment-sanctioned presence of the Great Old Ones throughout the OPs kingdom. ^__^ Random groups of trouble-making adventurer types poking into the cult's business and massacring the kingdom's citizenry to stop eldritch evils is still brigandige from a certain point of view...

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I would ask for Iorweth to accept a special ring as a token, and afterwards visit every single one of the 3.000 people that he saved, explaining to them that "The King in Yellow" has saved them, emphasizing that they owe their lives, and the lives of their children and grandchildren, to the 'benevolent' one.

The ring will not show as magical (unless 20th level full-caster) and will have no effect on him, but when it comes close enough to someone who has been touched by TKIY, who feels a positive feeling (for example: gratitude) than that person will forsake the other religions and "worship" TKIY.
These people will find they are experiencing an urge to roam the world and spread their faith, wearing more and more yellow clothing. This happens in the course of the next five to ten years. After all, TKIY has more than enough time.

100*30 people (and children etc) start leaving Player Capital, and after 2222 days (6 yrs)reports are coming in from strange things happening with what people started calling "The Yellow Troupes".

The first one (in Varnhold) was a troupe who walked into fire voluntarily, everyone dieing in the process.
The second one (11 days later somewhere in Mivon) all commited suicide by drowning.
The third one (22 days since last, somewhere in Pitax) attacked a band of known, ruthless adventurers. None survived.
The fourth one (33 days since last, Player Capital) have apparently gathered enough poison to die, simultaneously, in front of Iorweth's house/castle. All died with outstretched arms, pointing to Iorweth.


Let Iorweth fix his problem, because he will have a heavy heart once he learns about these events and connects the dots.
Also: He might fear he is last, and he can *count* the days until he thinks he will die.

DAMN I wish I could play in that group, would frikking rock! =D

Shadow Lodge

The thing is, Iorweth's player decided not to bring Iorweth back from the death after he made his deal with the King in Yellow and brought in another character. So I had to take it upon myself to take over that section of the story and make his not returning an unwritten part of his deal.

Grand Lodge

Bring him back as a corrupted insane NPC... its the least you can do. Also LOVING some of the ideas here!

Initial Clues:

A trickle of people leaving with nothing but their possessions and mounts, leaving their houses and lands unsold. (Know Local DC:? Each of those who leave are the resurrected or descendants of the resurrected.

A theater opens to rave reviews, performing a chilling mix of shows, but the only perform 2 nights a year. (When Hasturs planet shines its light towards Golarion) Keep a log for the players detailing the different scenes of this play. (The play is the carnival of tears, their characters are the roles being played by the carnival.)

Rumors of a strange cult forming that worships a new god of nobility and pleasure. Citizens start spending ridiculous sums on looking the part of nobility and attending these groups. If the PC's investigate this, have the cults be weird and exotic, but do nothing illegal.

Rising Drama:

(1 year out)

The first performance of the new theater for this year ends with the slaughter of the citizens and the combat that ensued. Make sure to describe the actor of Iorweth seems large and powerful, and his death the ending scene.

The last of the people affected by Hastur have left. Tracking them shows them building their own community. They pay their taxes and for resources, but they have began living and working only with each other. Describe them as a gaunt, but regal looking folk. Perhaps like old nobility that has fallen on bad times. Given all the children light brown eyes that border on yellow.

There are now also rumors of the pleasure cult being involved in murders and other foul crimes, worst of all sacrificial rituals!


The Yellow Sign

The final performance of the theater troupe shows the end of the Carnival of Tears and the striking of the deal by Iorweth. When the King in Yellow says his price, have him speak in current tense and to the PC's. Hastur in the play shouldn't be THE Hastur, but maybe a cleric or avatar. Give Iorweth any missing levels needed to be a challenge and maybe a few SLAs?

If the PC's stop the play in town, make a ruckus about the townsfolk leaving to a secret play out in the woods. It's the same ending, but happening in the community of those raised by Hastur.

If the PC's come to stop the play, perhaps have them fight through the cult. Either way the encounter would be stopping the yellow sign (lower to mid levels) or seeing it completed and having to undo it's effects. (mid high level) or killing Hastur. (High/Mythic.)

Lantern Lodge

Interestingly enough there is a mention of Hastur in the Emerald Spire. It seemed to imply the time was right for whatever is going on there to happen soon.

The entire first three or four original Freeport adventures dealt with the King in Yellow. They centred around the serpentfolk and a lighthouse, but maybe you'll find some inspiration there.

You could take the whole "plays" scenario, wherein the original "saved" people all perform the plays to ensnare more ( if i understand that correctly ), I would add another layer to it.

What happened to the Carnival? Hastur rewound time and got rid of them? Well maybe that Carnival has been "trapped" by him all those years.. so on top of the plays, I would add in the carnival returns to the land.

Their goal could be to escape Hastur; time rewound, they replay out a "new" carnival you devise to kill everyone, and escape his clutches.

This gives the players a chance to beat the carnival again, but with an overall hook/plot of by beating them you condemn them. And it gives Hastur's real plan of the plays spreading the trap a huge advantage. Most players will go straight to the carnival, to stop it, and ignore the plays i would think.

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