Things you've changed, and things you should have. [Spoilers]


Rise of the Runelords

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Basillicum wrote:

Anyone used ambience like that successfully in Foxglove Manor? So far, I've not found anything fitting. There are some dungeon sounds in Baldur's Gate that would work well, I think, but I'm bad at looping and don't have the files anyway.

Ambient Mixer might be what you're looking for. You can set a sound to loop continuously, or to randomly play x times per minute/10 minutes/hour. They also have a mobile app that can be convenient if you have speakers but no computer.

The sound library is huge, and you can even add your own.


Tangent101 wrote:

A third thing I'm doing is creating notecards for each NPC in Sandpoint, along with personality characteristics to help differentiate each NPC. I'm hoping to bring Sandpoint to life. While I did create some personalities in the Skype game, I honestly don't think most of the NPCs stand out - instead, the players are into Sandpoint because they built it up with their own bank and orphanage and stuff. I want my new group to think of this as home... especially as all three chose to have characters who grew up in Sandpoint (or in one case moved there several years ago).

Have you taken a look at the excellent sandpoint GM guide over in the user created content?

It has NPC's, portraits, characters notes, some excellent subplots.

Very well done.


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This is less a thing that should be added or removed, and more of a reminder of something easily forgotten(because I sure did):

When running the farm encounter in Skinsaw, don't forget that almost all the ghouls present are very recently people from the Hambley farm or neighboring farms. That means entire families, including children.

I had treated the ghouls like standard Bestiary ghouls, and it didn't occur to me until one of my players made an off-hand comment while standing over Hambley's body in the farmhouse that went something like "Well at least we didn't have to cut down his family". And my response was "Oh crap- you did." *Cue crestfallen faces of my players*

Big opportunity to add real horror to the scene when players are forced to wrestle with the fact that the monsters were truly innocent people up until minutes or hours previous.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I recall a previous post somewhere in which someone said they'd have a little girl appear in town all lost and mention how "Mommy started eating Daddy..." and I just have to use this.

Because that does basically spell it out: these are families that are being turned. And while having an old drunkard rambling on about "they ate the dogs" can be horrific... I think having a little girl look all wide-eyed, like Newt from "Aliens," and say "Mommy ate Daddy" will just add so many levels of horror to the situation.

Though it'll likely be over a year before I get to that. We've not even started the campaign. ^^;;


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Both of my Runelords groups decided that the party would visit some of the other farms en route to the Hambley farm. In both cases I described how some of the farms looked recently abandoned, and how others had been set up like armed camps (kids acting as lookouts up in trees, field workers working only in large groups, the elderly/sick/pregnant/very young gathered in fortified farm builings, etc.).

The players couldn't resist the chance to gather some more intel, so in both cases they talked with the farmers. Surviving farm families had gathered together to weather the crisis (safety in numbers, etc.), but they had the "traditional country independence" thing going on, so they were only now starting to think that the "weak town folk" might be able to help them.

Furthermore (inspired by the same "Mummy ate Daddy" post on these boards), at one of the fortified farms there was a little girl who had survived a ghoul attack on a neighbouring farm. She was still terrified, and had only recently started to talk again (lots of Diplomacy needed to get her to talk). The girl could recount how her mother had been found unconscious in the fields after having been bitten by something, the rest of the family had brought the mother home but she got sicker, then she suddenly got up and started eating the rest of the family (she had died unnoticed in the late evening, then risen that same midnight). The girl had hidden until her ghouled mother left. Lots of grue. For bonus points with Doctor Who fans, you can have the girl ask everyone: "Are you my mummy?" :)


I appreciate the modicum of morals displayed by the "mommy ate daddy" fan base. My players prefer me to fall off the horror deep end, though- i.e. dealing with a little girl's parents being turned in to ghouls isn't as horrific as dealing with a little girl that's been turned in to a ghoul plus her sister and older brother.


I might be running the encounter with Ghlorofaex tomorrow. After I do so, I'll post my changes to that encounter. I feel devious already!


I hope I'm okay asking for advice on changes here. I didn't want to start a new thread.

I'm going to run RotRL for my group of 6. I think I'm going to substitute the encounters for the 'challenging encounters' detailed in the thread in this subforum, simply because my players like combat and pushing things round on a map.

I wanted to play Crypt of the Everflame, but I didn't want to get stuck having to prepare a new module every few sessions. That felt clunky. I'd rather homebrew if I was doing that.

I was wondering if the idea to make the Crypt of the Everflame challenge part of the Swallowtail Festival ever works? I was thinking of having the players step up and defeat the goblins, gain some notoriety for it, and Belor Hemlock decides to send them off on a quest to get them out of town because they're making his men look bad.

Or I'd just play CotE more vanilla and have it as the main attraction in the festival, introducing some goblins in the dungeon itself.

My main issue with this is that it immediately takes the players out of Sandpoint, which they should be invested in.

Otherwise I'd play the AP as is, more or less.

Thoughts?


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On Adding Crypt of the Everflame

It's doable, but you'll wind up making a lot of work for yourself.

Discussion:
You could add Crypt of the Everflame to the Swallowtail Festival easily enough. The festival begins when the lantern is brought back. The crypt holds one of the founders of Sandpoint instead of Kassen. The Razmiri cultists who woke the dead are actually servants of Karzoug (perhaps Nualia and company) gathering resources for his plots.

To combat the problem of moving out of town immediately, I'd insist that your players all be natives of Sandpoint, rather than random strangers passing by. Collecting the Everflame is a local ritual. The town would have no reason to involve random passersby in this aspect of their celebration. If somebody REALLY doesn't want to be from Sandpoint originally, then they should at least be a resident -- maybe their parents moved there a few years ago, and they've lived in town long enough to become part of the community.

If you run it as written, everyone will hit level 2 in the crypt, before the swallowtail festival even begins. With a party of six players, starting at 1 level higher than usual, you'll probably have to adjust the difficulty of the all the encounters in every book of the adventure path as you go along, especially if your players are experienced. That's a ton of work. I wouldn't do it. But if you want to, go ahead.

Back on the original topic of the thread, some more things I've changed in my RotRL campaign:

Dragon color swap: copper instead of red

I made the 2 young red dragons in Fortress of the Stone Giants copper instead, and gave the PCs a reason to rescue rather than kill them.

The full details:
In Fortress of the Stone Giants, there are two young red dragons (Suleminga and Encontredor) charmed into working for the two lamia clerics with names but no backstory. They're a speed bump.

I switched their color: they're not red, they're copper. Then, on the way to the Fortress, the PCs encountered a souped-up Krampus with some redcap minions, intent on punishing a misbehaving child. They dutifully intervened, and the "child" turned out to be a five-year-old wyrmling copper dragon named Vernalia. She had snuck out of her mother's lair despite being forbidden to do so, and gotten lost. Mokmurian found her, and aided her in getting home.

But later, Mokmurian returned with a bunch of his minions. He petrified Vernalia's mother with a Flesh to Stone spell, then charmed and abducted her two brothers. Vernalia hid; the Krampus was out to punish her for disobedience (going outside without permission), betrayal (showing Mokmurian the way to their home), and cowardice (hiding while her family were attacked). After the PCs rescued her from Krampus, Vernalia gave them a small hidden stash of her mother's hoard (the rest was stolen) and begged them to save her two brothers.

The lamias are now diligently stoking the greed in Suleminga and Encontredor's souls, and pushing them into increasingly evil acts until they tarnish enough to sacrifice. Vernalia has accompanied the party (and stayed out of combat, because dragon or not, she's five!)

The dragon color swap subplot will probably get resolved next session. Depending on how things turn out, the party may find themselves with Vernalia's mother (a mature adult copper dragon) as an ally in the fight against Arkrhyst in book 5. If you use this, adjust as appropriate to your party; mine is distinctly underpowered and in need of aid.

Introducing Viorian Dekanti in Book 4

I introduced Viorian Dekanti is an allied NPC in Book 4. When she re-appears in Book 6, the party will have history with her, and reasons to try things other than killing her.

Discussion and updated backstory for Viorian:
Viorian Dekanti, in Book 6, is a pointless walk-on. As written, the players have no idea who she is or where she came from. They have no reason to do anything other than kill her.

To rectify that situation, I have introduced her as an allied level 10 NPC who is accompanying them through the Fortress of the Stone Giants. She has a pre-paid contract on a Raise Dead/Restoration at a suitable temple in Magnimar, and she has told the party that, so barring a TPK she has an excellent chance of surviving the adventure.

Meanwhile, she is forming connections with the party now. Maybe they'll be friends, maybe rivals. Maybe one of them will strike up a romance. Regardless, she'll go off-screen again in Book 5, and then when she shows up in Book 6, she'll be a real person to them, someone worth trying to save, not just a speed bump on the way to Karzoug.

Her original backstory is totally unsuitable. I decided that she grew up in Kassen, in Nirmathas, and that her early adventuring career consisted of the events described in Crypt of the Everflame, Masks of the Living God, and the City of Golden Death. I may throw in other modules if the players keep asking for more backstory. That gives her AMPLE history.

She needs to be greedy, so as to be susceptible to Chellan. I've played up that she's a mercenary, and that she really likes getting paid. She grew up destitute, and resented by her siblings because she was adopted and a drain on family resources. Her personal goal is outdo Kassen, the founder of her hometown. He raised enough loot by adventuring to found a town. She wants more: she's shooting for 200,000 gp to bankroll a small kingdom (that's the equivalent of 50 BP under the Ultimate Campaign kingdom building rules). Nobody can say she's a useless drain on resources once she's ruling her own kingdom.

As for her reason for accompanying the party, she's working for the Magnimarian government. Due to OTHER plot modifications, the Magnimarian military don't trust the party fully, and sent their own hired merc along to make sure they could get the straight story from someone working for THEM.


My players are in SoXS currently and I plan on making Viorian a little easier to rescue. As written, there's no reason for the PCs to think she can be rescued or any idea of how to specifically go through the long, drawn out process of restoring her to her original self.

I'm going to have Chellan bear a glowing rune that pulses in time a similar glow that seems to be coming from under Viorian's breastplate (where the Rune of Greed is branded on her.) Also, if the PCs manage to disarm her, she'll instantly go catatonic, rather than it requiring 24 hours of removal from contact with the blade. These together should make what's going on with her pretty easy to figure out.

On the flip side, any PC that picks up Chellan is going to have to make a save to not be controlled (though those with Dominant Weapons and/or in direct opposition to Greed will have Advantage on the Save [we're playing in 5E]).


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
FrugalToast wrote:
Basillicum wrote:

Anyone used ambience like that successfully in Foxglove Manor? So far, I've not found anything fitting. There are some dungeon sounds in Baldur's Gate that would work well, I think, but I'm bad at looping and don't have the files anyway.

Ambient Mixer might be what you're looking for. You can set a sound to loop continuously, or to randomly play x times per minute/10 minutes/hour. They also have a mobile app that can be convenient if you have speakers but no computer.

The sound library is huge, and you can even add your own.

Another option would be to use Syrinscape, which has specific sound packs designed for Rise of the Runelords, such as The Skinsaw Murders.


I really wanted to throw the players in to a dungeon straight away and was trying to figure out how to do that without rushing through all the beginner stuff and minimising the things that are supposed to connect them to Sandpoint.

I think I figured it out. I'm going to essentially turn the Desecrated Vault encounter in to a mausoleum/crypt type thing. I'll keep the Festival and Flames and Die Dog Die goblins and throw them in there instead. My story will be that Nualia stole the remains a few days ago while the town was busy with the festival, but some goblins broke rank, stayed in the crypt and have been grave robbing.

Father Zantus has noticed desecrated graves and strange things going on in the graveyard and he doesn't know how to deal with it, particularly with the town still recovering from The Late Unpleasantness. In a lapse of judgement he takes a drink at The Rusty Dragon, where he ends up confiding in Ameiko and Aldern.

Because Ameiko and Aldern are both pretty obsessed with adventurers, it makes sense that they'd decide to take the law in to their own hands and pick out some adventurers to handle the problem, rather than taking it to Hemlock and risking alerting the town during the festivities. They decide on the PCs and send them in to the graveyard while Zantus is making his speech.


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I've changed substantial amounts, much to get my players backstories woven into the overall plot. This includes things like Karzoug raising an orc army in Belkzen, as well as the metallic dragons and elves needing to be brought together to fight back. Plus get Magnimar to raise an army to support the Shoanti who are taking the brunt of the attack. The Korvosans refuse to work with the Shoanti currently.

However the biggest change was to book 5, changing the way(s) into Runeforge. I didn't want to put my party through a huge dungeon crawl with out a break, plus with several political sub-plots going on outside i wanted these to keep moving. So I altered Runeforge to make 7 entrances instead of 1. Each entrance being in the original territory of a Runelord - giving entrance to their wing. Entrance to the central area is via these. You can't get into a wing without having been there first. With a couple of exceptions.

I also added some additional smaller villages, a host of NPCs and a heavy dose of politics in Magnimar.


I'm going to be running this soon, and I went ahead and changed two npc's, though I'm not super sure if I did their stats right, but close enough probably.

Tsuto Kaijitsu, Ninja:

Male half-elf ninja 4
LE Medium humanoid (elf, human)
Init +7; Senses low-light vision; Perception +11
Defense
AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 13 (+1 deflection, +3 Dex, +1 dodge)
HP 31 (4d8+10)
Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +3; +2 vs enchantments
Defensive Abilities Uncanny Dodge
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee kunai +4 (1d4+1) or katana +4 (1d8+1)
Ranged kunai +6 (1d4+3) or composite shortbow +6 (1d6+1/x3)
Special Attacks sneak attack +2d6
Tactics
During Combat Tsuto’s main advantage in battle is his mobility. He uses Acrobatics to move around the battlefield and flanks foes with his goblins as he can. When he retreats, he flings his kunai at his foes to provide a distraction and uses his shadow clone ninja trick if he can to further confuse his enemies.
Morale If brought below 8 hit points, or if all his goblins are slain, Tsuto runs for his life down the smuggler’s tunnel, abandoning all thought of returning to Naulia with his sister in tow and fleeing back to Thistletop.
Statistics
Str 12 Dex 16 Con 12 Int 13 Wis 14 Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 20
Feats Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Skill Focus (Bluff), Stunning Fist, Toughness, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +10, Bluff +9, Diplomacy +6, Disable Device +10, Disguise +6, Intimidate +6, Perception +11, Perform (wind) +4
Languages Common, elven, goblin
SQ poison use, ninja tricks (bleeding attack, shadow clone), no trace, elf blood, ki pool (1)
Combat Gear potion of cure light wounds;
Other Gear composite shortbow with 20 arrows, ring of protection +1, masterwork thieves tools, masterwork flute, silver earrings (25 gp for the pair), journal, 6 pouches of gold dust worth 50 gp each, 8 pouches of silver dust worth 5 gp each, 10 pp

Naulia, Warpriest:

Female aasimar warpriest of Lamashtu 6
CE Medium outsider (native)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5
Defense
AC 20, touch 13, flat-footed 19 (+7 armor, +2 deflection, +1 Dex)
HP 55 (6d8+26)
Fort +7; Ref +3; Will +8 (+2 vs confusion, insanity, and fear)
Resist acid 5, cold 5, electricity 5
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee fervor (2d6 touch), +1 bastard sword +8 (1d10+4/19-20), claw +3 (1d6+1)
Ranged mwk composite longbow +5 (1d8+3/x3)
Special Attacks fervor 6/day, channel negative energy (DC 16, expends 2 uses of fervor, 2d6 negative energy), Lamashtu’s Mark (DC 19 Fort, 1d4 Cha damage which lasts for 1 hour)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +9) 1/day - daylight
Spells Prepared (CL 4th, concentration +7)
2nd – bull’s strength, cat’s grace, cure moderate wounds, shatter (DC 15)
1st – divine favor, doom (DC 14), obscuring mist, sanctuary (DC 14), shield of faith
0 (at will) – bleed (DC 13), detect magic, mending, stabilize
Tactics
Before Combat If Naulia suspects combat is imminent, she casts bull’s strength, cat’s grace, and shield of faith on herself. She takes a standard action to use Unholy Strike on her bastard sword.
During Combat Naulia activates her Sihedron medallion as a free action at the start of combat to gain false life and casts divine favor. She prefers to fight with her bastard sword, her face and impassive mask save for her eyes, which blaze with anger. She uses a standard action to use Strength Surge to enhance her attacks for one round, and will use this every other round. She saves shatter to use on any weapon that seems to be particularly dangerous in an enemy’s hands. If possible, she moves into the hall to the south so that it’s harder to surround her, and so she has an escape route handy, using channeled negative energy to clear a path if needed.
Morale Naulia is loath to abandon her hard work, but if reduced to fewer than 15 hit points, she does just that, reasoning that escape and eventual revenge is better than death at the hands of the players. She uses obscuring mist and/or sanctuary to aid her escape, then does her best to flee Thistletop, ordering any surviving minions to guard her retreat. If she escapes, she makes her south to Magnimar to reunite with the Skinsaw Cult.
Base Statistics Without her prep spells, Naulia’s statistics change as follows: AC 16, touch 9, flat-footed 16; HP 49; Ref +1, Melee +1 bastard sword +6 (1d10+2/19-20), claw +1 (1d6); Ranged mwk composite longbow +3 (1d8+1/x3); Str 12, Dex 8; CMB +5, CMD 14
Statistics
Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +4; CMB +7, CMD 18
Feats Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword), Lamashtu’s Mark, Power Attack, Selective Channeling, Weapon Focus (bastard sword)
Skills Diplomacy +5, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (religion) +8, Linguistics +4, Perception +5
Languages Celestial, Common, Goblin
Gear +1 breastplate, +1 bastard sword, masterwork composite longbow with 20 arrows, Sihedron medallion, gold holy symbol (100 gp), 7 pp, 5 gp
Special Abilities
Blessings 6/day (3+1/2 warpriest level) Evil (unholy strike, minor): Touch a weapon, grant +1d6 against good for 1 minute; Strength (strength surge, minor): +3 (1/2 warpriest level) on melee atk, CMB, and Strength checks for 1 round;

I'm also going to include competitions and prizes at the festival, and I tired to keep the prizes relatively interesting but not overpowering. I'm debating whether or not to reveal the prizes before each competition or not. Third place prizes at 20 silver, second place at 40 silver, and first prize takes 10 gold and something else that varies based on the contest.
-Wrestling contest: masterwork leather belt inlaid with pearls and glass
-Eating competition: set of dishes and silverware
-Woodcarving competition: set of masterwork carving tools
-Archery competition: masterwork longbow
-Dueling contest: masterwork rapier
-Swim race: Necklace made of pearls harvested locally
-Foot race: boots that grant a +5 bonus to movement
-Climbing race: gloves that grant a +1 bonus to climbing
-Game competition: exquisitely crafted gameboard and pieces
-Song contest: masterwork instrument of player’s choice, to be delivered later
-Knife throwing contest: Masterwork glass throwing knives

Other than that I just have plans and contingencies for every named NPC should the players kill/capture/redeem them, or if they escape, and I'm making connections between the various subplots that weren't there before, like Ironbriar being Tsuto's father, possibly having to escort former enemies to the Black Arrows, etc. And Naulia will hopefully pop back up throughout the campaign, possibly gaining some antipaladin levels.

Dark Archive

Did you change Nualia's name as well? .-. You consistently spell it as Naulia


Whoops! No I'm just a bad speller.


UsagiTaicho wrote:
Whoops! No I'm just a bad speller.

It's okay. We play in Roll20 and I accidentally (subconsciously) spelled "Gogmurt" as "Gogurt", much to my players' amusement.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I actually do change any name that doesn't feel comfortable to my mouth or was consistently causing typing spelling issues unless there is a specific reason to keep it.

"Jakardros" became "Jakardos", a fair amount of stuff like that.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

One thing that my players changed that I didn't like was the ubiquitous use of insulting funny nicknames for many NPCs. It really broke the seriousness and darkness I was going for, and was REALLY hard to stamp out.

I was still using the 3.5 version of Skinsaw Murders, and in that Xanesha signed her letter to Aldern as, "Wanton of Nature's Pagan Forms." She was forever referred to as "Won Ton Soup." (The Anniversary Edition changed that to "Mistress of the Seven," which was a big improvement in my opinion.)

Likewise Justice Ironbriar was "Iron-On," Mokmourian was "Mork from Ork," Jakardros was "Jerkface," and Karzoug was "Gadzooks!"

Yes, it was funny, but I found the constant joking to be very frustrating.


While it's almost never nicknames, I feel your pain. Players not taking something seriously can really soak the fun out of the game.


Haladir wrote:

One thing that my players changed that I didn't like was the ubiquitous use of insulting funny nicknames for many NPCs. It really broke the seriousness and darkness I was going for, and was REALLY hard to stamp out.

I was still using the 3.5 version of Skinsaw Murders, and in that Xanesha signed her letter to Aldern as, "Wanton of Nature's Pagan Forms." She was forever referred to as "Won Ton Soup." (The Anniversary Edition changed that to "Mistress of the Seven," which was a big improvement in my opinion.)

Likewise Justice Ironbriar was "Iron-On," Mokmourian was "Mork from Ork," Jakardros was "Jerkface," and Karzoug was "Gadzooks!"

Yes, it was funny, but I found the constant joking to be very frustrating.

Hold on, you're going to fast, I can't write them all down! *scribbles furiously*


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Orik_Vancaskerkin wrote:
Haladir wrote:

One thing that my players changed that I didn't like was the ubiquitous use of insulting funny nicknames for many NPCs. It really broke the seriousness and darkness I was going for, and was REALLY hard to stamp out.

I was still using the 3.5 version of Skinsaw Murders, and in that Xanesha signed her letter to Aldern as, "Wanton of Nature's Pagan Forms." She was forever referred to as "Won Ton Soup." (The Anniversary Edition changed that to "Mistress of the Seven," which was a big improvement in my opinion.)

Likewise Justice Ironbriar was "Iron-On," Mokmourian was "Mork from Ork," Jakardros was "Jerkface," and Karzoug was "Gadzooks!"

Yes, it was funny, but I found the constant joking to be very frustrating.

Hold on, you're going to fast, I can't write them all down! *scribbles furiously*

Grrrr.....

Dark Archive

Haladir wrote:

I posted this in another thread, but I'll repeat it here...

Given that the number seven is so prevalent throughout this AP, I decided to add another chapter of Rise of the Runelords, to give it a Seven Book format.

Book 1: Burnt Offerings
Book 2: The Skinsaw Murders
Book 3: Hook Mountain Massacre
Book 4: The Seven Swords of Sin
Book 5: Fortress of the Stone Giants
Book 6: Sins of the Saviors
Book 7: Spires of Xin-Shalast

Here's my outline for Book 4...

Chapter 1: The Golemworks Incident
** spoiler omitted **.

Chapter 2: The Road to Kaer Maga
** spoiler omitted **...

Haladir I was wondering if you had any notes about how you presented the start of this chapter to them. I am gonna totally take this idea and I'm a bit stuck on how to proceed.


TexSIN wrote:
Haladir wrote:

I posted this in another thread, but I'll repeat it here...

** spoiler omitted **...

Haladir I was wondering if you had any notes about how you presented the start of this chapter to them. I am gonna totally take this idea and I'm a bit stuck on how to proceed.

I'm also quite interested how this are going. My group is following a similar path, even thought i've put them in an open world after level 9


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I made a tiny change to The Skinsaw Murders - I had the PCs encounter the surviving farmer, Maester Grump, on the road as they travelled back from Habe's Sanatorium to Sandpoint. It seemed much better to do this than have Sheriff Hemlock feed them the next lead yet again - and send them back south again!


Callum wrote:
I made a tiny change to The Skinsaw Murders - I had the PCs encounter the surviving farmer, Maester Grump, on the road as they travelled back from Habe's Sanatorium to Sandpoint. It seemed much better to do this than have Sheriff Hemlock feed them the next lead yet again - and send them back south again!

Much the same here, except it was one of Sheriff Hemlock's exhausted guards that had raced down to Habe's Sanatorium to find them, after Maester Grump came to town the same morning. I had already let the players control the NPCs that were slaughtered at Hambley Farm, so obviously they knew what was up.


I had the PCs encounter Maester Grump on the road as well. They ignored him, passing him off as a crazy drunkard.


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Like Tangent mentioned, during Walking Scarecrows I also let my players slowly realize the ghouls they were cheerfully cutting down were actually the family that had lived at the nearby farmsteads. My players just about had a heart attack when they heard "Papa? Is that you?" from around the corner having just found the corpse bearing the second note.

Believing she was the last living person around, they arranged to have the party member with the most ranks in Ride rush the girl back to Sandpoint and then meet them at Misgivings. Because he got there much faster than expected (holy crap a horse with the Run feat can book it) he actually sat down and talked with the girl's aunt about their financial situation before deciding in a heartbeat to adopt the girl and gave every last copper of her family's savings to her aunt to help keep food on the table for the girl and her own children until he'd returned from sorting out all this "ghoulish murdery" stuff.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Today, as I am beginning to prepare for the start of Hook Mountain Massacre -- and the trap-filled funhouse that is the Graul Farm -- my copy of Grimtooth's Ultimate Traps Collection arrived.

Cue evil DM cackling...


We're just finishing up Burnt Offerings, but so far I've added...

- Introduced The Terrible Tup (the bonus Runelords NPC from Hell's Rebels 4), initially just as a temporary NPC, but he became one of my player's favourite parts of the game. He ended up being an ally who helped the players take on the goblins, but only because he was seeking revenge against Ripnugget himself. He was useful for some (dark) comic relief.

- More foreshadowing for the inhabitants of Thistletop. Once she became aware of them, Nualia sent Lyrie and Orik out to investigate, and potentially sabotage, the players in Sandpoint. Lyrie gifted our party's spellcaster with a cursed ring she could activate with a spoken keyword, so she could take him out of the fight when they eventually met.

- Expanded background on the goblin tribes. In our game, Ripnugget had managed to unite 3 small tribes under Nualia, each with their own leader and distinct markings. I used the stats for a goblin vulture rider (Monster Codex) for one of the leaders, and had them carry out aerial hit and run attacks against the players across a couple of adventures.

- Expanded the hunt with Foxglove. The players and Foxglove became the only survivors from an attack by the Sandpoint Devil (though only managed to escape by sheer chance), and the rest of their hunting party was wiped out

- Added a side quest - the increased goblin activity had forced Scarnetti to move his logging operation into a different area of the woods, which disturbed a yellow musk creeper's habitat and put his men on a collision with the local fey. The players had to decide whether to accept Scarnetti's considerable bounty and clear the forest of fey, or defend the fey from sczarni thugs

- Made Nualia a childhood friend of one of my player's characters, who had also been a bit of an outcast growing up in Sandpoint


Haladir wrote:
Orik_Vancaskerkin wrote:
Haladir wrote:

One thing that my players changed that I didn't like was the ubiquitous use of insulting funny nicknames for many NPCs. It really broke the seriousness and darkness I was going for, and was REALLY hard to stamp out.

I was still using the 3.5 version of Skinsaw Murders, and in that Xanesha signed her letter to Aldern as, "Wanton of Nature's Pagan Forms." She was forever referred to as "Won Ton Soup." (The Anniversary Edition changed that to "Mistress of the Seven," which was a big improvement in my opinion.)

Likewise Justice Ironbriar was "Iron-On," Mokmourian was "Mork from Ork," Jakardros was "Jerkface," and Karzoug was "Gadzooks!"

Yes, it was funny, but I found the constant joking to be very frustrating.

Hold on, you're going to fast, I can't write them all down! *scribbles furiously*
Grrrr.....

Don't be mad Haladir, you know we love you! Lol


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I haven't been able to read through ALL of the posts in this thread, so forgive me if my ideas happen to be exactly the same as someone else's. Evil minds plot alike...?

---

I've run the whole of Rise of the Runelords with but a single player, by allowing said player to 'recruit' additional NPC allies. Sort of ended up feeling like an early Bioware game, just at the table, complete with NPC side-quests and romance arcs. I have since started running the game a second time, with a group of five players this time, and have altered things yet again.

Most changes have been fairly small and a lot of them mirror what I've seen in earlier posts. I think one of the more important changes I made is the timeline – I made it only three years ago that the Late Unpleasantness occurred. Reasons are many, and at least one is given in the quote below ;)

The second big one was the Glassworks. This scenario just screamed "Drama! We need more DRAMA!" I like giving my PCs less clear-cut scenarios; flawed heroes, sympathetic villains, and shades of grey NPCs. I also have a weakness for the scène à faire.

The Glassworks:


  • Because I usually game with people whose characters leap into action at the slightest provocation, I ensure that they find Tsuto's letter themselves (written in Common, not Minkaian, because he was brought up outside of the household and is unlikely to have learned to write his mother's native language). The first time around, I had my player investigate a strange sound from Ameiko's room, which turned out to be her leaving via the window. In the second, one of my players was Ameiko's cousin (Lonjiku had a younger sister) and staying at the Kaijitsu Manor. She found Tsuto's letter to her uncle, and promptly sought out the rest of her party, inspiring them to check with Ameiko - to find her missing, and another note from Tsuto revealing their location.
  • A general note about Tsuto. I believe the dates, as per the Anniversary Edition of ROTR and the Inner Sea book, suggest that he is 23 at the time of Burnt Offerings. Of course, he's a half-elf, who only hit adulthood at 20. So when he was having his jaw nearly broken by his 'father' and then running to Magnimar and finding/bonking Nualia in those first two years, he was the equivalent of a 14 year old kid. Now, that might add to the weirdness of the situation, but I prefer to make the Late Unpleasantness a little bit more recent (as mentioned early, only 3 years ago, rather than 5).
  • The staff are not already dead when the PCs arrive. Instead, Tsuto made an additional request of his father along with his earlier blackmail - that the Glassworks shut down for a few days after the festival - which Lonjiku ignored. Tsuto has orders to keep people alive until the 'real' raid - after all, if he let the goblins kill everyone, that's eight souls who can't be sacrificed to Lamashtu. After the workers were found by his goblins, Tsuto has had them stuffed in closets for now until he is ready. He's too preoccupied with his own vengeance to pay them much attention, and thus the goblins like to go and beat on the door, shove broken glass under the doors, and generally terrorize their helpess victims.
  • Lonjiku also isn't dead with the PCs arrive. While his death is visually gruesome, it doesn't add as much to the overall drama as having him alive. Instead, I like to run a little scene when the PCs arrive (assuming they don't yawn and go "we'll deal with it tomorrow", at which point I presume the whole scene would play out as in the book). For this to work, I altered the map: expanded the furnace and built a metal mezzanine level with a crane apparatus over the main pit. Tsuto has tied his father to a chair, which is held over the pit of flaming death by the crane. Ameiko is there, held at bay by goblins, as Tsuto threatens to drop Lonjiku if he doesn't confess to killing Tsuto's mother. Lonjiku is in the middle of his admission of murder when the PCs burst in, having been able to hear the raised voices from the other side of the door, and with a good enough PER check, to hear what is being said.
  • During the fight with Tsuto, the other NPCs have their own initiative. Ameiko, after the goblins rush to engage the PCs, runs up to the crane and pulls her father to safety, untying him. Lonjiku, upon being freed, pushes his daughter out of the way and runs for the doors. This is when I usually throw the spanner into what is otherwise a straight-up goblin-stomp, and have Ameiko fail a Reflex save/Dexterity check to keep her balance. She falls off the mezzanine, but catches hold of the crane. If the PCs are in a position to do something, I let them. If they are drowned in goblins and simply can't get to the controls, I make two "morale" checks: one for Lonjiku, to see if he returns; the other for Tsuto, to see if he abandons the fight to help his sister. It's also possible that Ameiko might fall if no one goes to help her within four rounds, but it's definitely not my preferred outcome.
  • Assuming that no one in the party does anything silly like shoot Lonjiku as he runs away (although if they did, I would absolutely mark that as a point of Wrath) he gets to stand trial for his past crimes. Outcome depends on whether he redeems himself a little by going back to save his daughter, or flees the scene in fear of his secrets finally being brought to light and hoping that the PCs will kill Tsuto for him.
  • In both version of this game I've run, my players have been keen on the idea of redemption and 'collecting' NPCs. Knowing this was likely in advance, I added a few hints to Tsuto's journal, expanding on his uncertainty at Nualia's planned transformation. 'Cause, y'know, maybe she'll be a succubus. Or maybe she'll turn into something that looks like it belongs to that arm, and then eat him. Valid concerns for the boyfriend of a beautiful lunatic whose dark transformation rituals demand the sacrifice of family members and those she loves, evil alignment or not. In both games, the players pitched some very convincing arguments and succeeded at some high Diplomacy/Persuasion checks to convince Tsuto that if he truly loved Nualia, he would not let her continue down this obviously self-destructive path (yes, addiction/intervention references abounded) and tentatively won him over.
  • Similarly, in both versions of the game, Lonjiku ran off and did not attempt to save his daughter, whom he had in an earlier session publically disowned anyhow. In the first game, my player had him arrested and he was brought to trial. In the second version, the sorcerer in the party hit him with a sleep spell as he ran away. When he woke up, Lonjiku bemoaned his fate and committed suicide with the blade hidden within his cane (a +1 sword cane that had been passed down the family; after the funeral Ameiko passed it on to her PC cousin as a somewhat grim legacy).

Probably a great deal more melodrama than any one gaming session should contain – but it's gone off pretty well both times.

The third major (as it turned out to be for that game) change I had was adding in a new NPC. Of course, this change definitely wouldn't work for everyone, but amused the heck out of me.

Mystery NPC!:

In Book 5, in the Cages of Lust, there is an NPC named Nelevetu who is there mostly, it seems, for the PCs to free him, restore his lost stats, and then watch him crumble to dust when he leaves the room and feel really bad about it all. Made a few changes to this one.

  • The Cages of Lust is rich with enchantment magic, so I had some of the cages themselves actually be artifact devices. These Lethean Cages are indistinguishable from the other cages, but gradually suck out the memories of those locked within them until they can remember nothing beyond the fact that they are a slave of the Runelord of Lust. A limited wish, miracle or wish can restore the lost memories, etc and so forth.
  • I gave Delvahine modify memory as an at-will spell-like ability, so she can carry out her little "role playing" games with prisoners by making them believe they are whatever she wants them to be. When used on someone who has been affected by the Lethean Cages, a modify memory spell can implant a completely new history, but only one that can be spoken in 25 words or less.
  • And thus, we had Nelevetu. He believed, absolutely, that he was 'A rebellious soldier in the army of Runelord Sorshen, sentence to be broken by the Cages of Lust as punishment for a failed mutiny.' But that was all he could recall of his life. He definitely was an 11th level fighter, who had absolutely no equipment.
  • But most importantly, when the party killed Delvahine and freed her 'tormented prisoner' - a claim that had the succubus in a fit of hysterical giggles - he was able to leave the room and the Runeforge itself. So they got to save someone from the Runeforge, which had them all feeling pretty good about the whole affair.
  • And so things went along pretty swimmingly. The players gave him some hand-me-down magic armor and weapons, and he trailed along with them as an awesome bodyguard with some odd traits and immense durability. They put most of this down to "he's Azlanti/super-human". Riiiight up until they realized he was immune to electricity damage and had spell resistance, and figured out that they had rescued an incubus fighter 11. After 10,000 years of having his memories constantly reforged and erased, his alignment really was Chaotic Neutral... and would remain so, perhaps, until he got his actual memories back.
  • Needless to say, they halted their side-quest to have his memories restored, though they eventually told Nelevetu of their discovery when they confirmed it in-game. Instead, they actively tried to redeem him to the side of Good, a feat they did eventually succeed in.

Anyhow. Hope these entertain ;)


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Yossarian wrote:

I've changed substantial amounts, much to get my players backstories woven into the overall plot. This includes things like Karzoug raising an orc army in Belkzen, as well as the metallic dragons and elves needing to be brought together to fight back. Plus get Magnimar to raise an army to support the Shoanti who are taking the brunt of the attack. The Korvosans refuse to work with the Shoanti currently.

However the biggest change was to book 5, changing the way(s) into Runeforge. I didn't want to put my party through a huge dungeon crawl with out a break, plus with several political sub-plots going on outside i wanted these to keep moving. So I altered Runeforge to make 7 entrances instead of 1. Each entrance being in the original territory of a Runelord - giving entrance to their wing. Entrance to the central area is via these. You can't get into a wing without having been there first. With a couple of exceptions.

I also added some additional smaller villages, a host of NPCs and a heavy dose of politics in Magnimar.

Hey friend! I am running RotR (currently in part 5 before entering runeforge) and I just read your comment. I was amazed by the similarities in our campaigns as I also included an orc army raised by minions of Karzoug in Belkzen and the elves+Magnimar who are currently thinking of assisting the pcs and the overal fight against ancient Thassilon's return.

I also added lots of mini political mini plots in magnimar with pc's backstories in mind..
So i am interested in more details or ideas if you have on how you linked everything together in the end or even more details about the 7 entrances and how this helped your story!!
Thanks in advance!


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M0bious wrote:


Hey friend! I am running RotR (currently in part 5 before entering runeforge) and I just read your comment. I was amazed by the similarities in our campaigns as I also included an orc army raised by minions of Karzoug in Belkzen and the elves+Magnimar who are currently thinking of assisting the pcs and the overal fight against ancient Thassilon's return.
I also added lots of mini political mini plots in magnimar with pc's backstories in mind..
So i am interested in more details or ideas if you have on how you linked everything together in the end or even more details about the 7 entrances and how this helped your story!!
Thanks in advance!

That really does sound incredibly similar! Hard to know where to start, as I changed a great deal.

I'm busy with work these next few days, but asap I'll post the details. It's going to be a long read.

My post here gives a summary of some of them: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2hl5a&page=6?Sins-of-the-Saviors#289

That was the mechanism that enabled me to make Runeforge work with multiple entrances, and also allow the PCs to get back to Magnimar for 'politics' frequently.

Some other key additions (detail to comes in the big post):

- Made it part of various PCs 'epic quests' to unite an army of Shoanti, Giants and Elves & Metallic dragons to fight Karzougs army of Orcs, Chromatic dragons, giants, lamia etc. This battle will happen on the Storval Plateau as my PCs are within the Eye of Avarice. A kind of LoTR parallel between the ringbearer quest and the battle of Minas Tirath and the Black Gate.

- Introduced a major NPC - a gold dragon. He is acting as the intermediary between the metallic dragons and the PCs. As well as providing sage advice, when he's not off trying to persuade various metallic dragons not to join up with Karzoug.

- One PC is elven. She needs to persuade the elves of Mierani to come on board. The clues to this are based on the Elves ability to resist slavery by Karzoug (and the others) during Thassilonian times, she learned of this in the Jorgenfist library. This PC is a draconic sorceress, making the connection to the dragon elements of the story even stronger - so she's the one dealing with the gold dragon mostly.

- One PC is fortunately a Shoanti. He has to persuade the tribes to unite to fight alongside each other. This is based on Shoanti legend (very good intel on this is in Curse of the Crimson Throne pt4). Earlier in the campaign a Shoanti shaman hinted at his destiny to do this, and the Shoanti legend that they'd be united by someone holding an Azghat (the shoanti name for runelords) rune'd weapon.

- One PC is a Cleric, and managed to convince the stone giants (book 4) to also worship her deity: Milani. It is her task to get them to join up to fight.

- One PC has become Lord of Ordelia, one of Magnimar's districts. He's up to his neck in the politics, and is tasked (well will soon realise its necessary) getting Magnimar to raise an army - something Lord Mayor Groboras is opposed to.

Anyway, very cool to hear you're trying something similar. I really wanted my PCs to feel they were part of a publicly known epic quest to save the world, not just doing something without most people around them feeling involved. That and my players love role playing, so the politics of Varisia makes a great setting for that. Eg: having to give a speech at the gathering of the Shoanti tribes to convince them to unite.

Question for you: I assume your players have completed the Scribbler section? If not, let me know. I re-wrote his rhyme in order to point my PCs at the Entrance to the Abjurant halls. If you're pre-this stage then I can provide you the new rhyme.

Runeforge entrances (all in appropriate areas for each Runelord's territory):

Note: I created a set of clues for my PCs to find this out, not detailed here (can provide later).

Abjurant halls - In the Chakikoth Isles west of Varisia. Scribblers rhyme was changed to point to this location.

Crypts of Gluttony - Near 'the sleeper' in Belkzen. I had my PCs be able to enter this wing from the abjurant halls due to the damage. When they exited in Belkzen they saw an army of orcs below them heading west (to varisia), accompanied by a blue dragon.

Vault of Greed - Below Kaer Maga. I had Karzoug hide his entrance here because of his paranoia. The Duskwardens of Kaer Maga helped my PCs find it, along with the monks of the Therassic Spire.

Cages of Lust - Below the castle in Korvosa. I had this entrance blocked (I don't want my PCs in Korvosa in this campaign) - and had them able to enter using Ordikon's severed hand (see my post in the link above)>

Shimmering Veils - Where the original default entrance to Runeforge was in the official campaign. This entrance now goes into the wing instead. The Arkhryst encounter happened at this point.

Festing maze - near Sech Nevali. I had my PCs able to enter this wing from the main chamber, and this exit blocked. Mostly because I didn't want to spend all the time it would take to do that location justice.

Halls of wrath - On the Ire Islands. Entrance to this (its about to happen to my PCs) will be via the assintance of Sobloch, Jorimandius' familiar, who via sneaking about has gained access to it.

Here's the scribbler's rhyme, edited to point to the Chakikoth Isles entrance to the Abjurant Halls:

If magic undilute is your desire
To Runeforge you must aspire,
For only there can mage’s art`
compound, not split apart.

On eastern shore by steaming mirror,
At end of day when stars grow clear,
Belimarius stands in silent vigil,
Guarding gaze at Xin’derass’il.

Small stone the grace of seven lords,
Becomes a seven pointed key, affords
when offer’d in hand, with opposed spells a pair,
Entrance to abjurant hall, worn a’neck up narrow stair.

On frozen mountainside hidden gates,
Within her gifts of charity awaits,
Key twists twice in Sihedron breach,
Then your Runeforge wait is reached.

And when you’ve come and joined the forge.
Upon rarest lore your mind can gorge –
And when you slough the mortal way
In Runeforge eternity your work shall stay.

Verses three and four describe my slightly altered mechanism for getting into a Runeforge portal:
- Hold a Sihedron medallion in your hand
- Two PCs cast the right opposing school spells
- Path is marked to the portal
- The medallion becomes energised as a key, turning it twice by the portal opens the way.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am running a rise of the rune lords game. We are working our way through the "heroes of Sand point " section and are most likely going to have their Q&A with Shalelu next session.

I have noticed over the campaign

:
the characters start out in Sand point for the first book and most of the second book. then they go to Magnimar. Then they go to Turtleback Ferry area for the third book. They get a fort at the end of the third book. Then when the 4th book begins they immediately return to Sand Point to defend the town against the Giant attack. They go off to take care of the giants. In the fifth book they then Return to Sand point to deal with the Scribbler. Then they go off to the Rune Forge, and in the final book they go to Xin Shalast to confront the Rune Lord

I want to continue to build the PCs connection to Sand point.

I am thinking about moving Sand point to Clay Bottom lake and replacing Turttleback ferry.

During the meeting with the mayor and Shalelu and sherrif Hemlock, I am planning to have them

:
appeal to the black arrows and Fort Rannick for help against the goblins instead of Magnimar

So after the Skinsaw Murders while the PCs are in Magnimar, I am planning to send them to Kaer Maga I am planning to run the group through the seven swords of sin in Kaer Maga. and then have them return to Sandpoint for the third book.

I essentially want the PCs to keep

:
their castle
, and defend it against the giants, and to basically remain part of sandpoint and make it their home base.

What do you think? are there lots of problems with this?


We just finished Book 4 last night. Here is what I did to make the final fight a bit more challenging:

My players are level 13 mythic tier 1 - I have a wizard, cavalier, slayer, hunter (favored enemy giant of course), and a oracle of life follower (level 10 as a follower - the cavalier has leadership).

I used the mythic version of Mokmurian found in this forum under 'gm's guide to challenging fights' - with one exception - I gave him the dual initiative ability.

The party skipped 1/2 of the upper halls - and wiped out all of the lower halls but had decided to avoid the library until they explored the rest of the corner - and then met Big M - so they did not have the shining child fight.

They entered the fight with Big M down fairly well on resources - the last time they had rested was with Cona watching over them on the upper level - and they tackled the lower area without stopping. Big M had spied on them throughout the level - they even caught him doing it in the headless lord's gallery - the wizard was using detect magic and I let him see the divination effect on top of the headless 'statue' before they came to life.

So they met Big M with him being very prepped - the entered his hall (which btw - I needed 2 maps for) and saw a giant in robes with their back to them in the middle of the hall. Imitative and they hear a spell - solid fog right in front of them. They move around the fog cloud - they see the giant move 'oddly'. Cloudkill pours from above the ranger. Acid fog on top of the cavalier.

They move around the fogs and the ranger shoots the robed giant - the cavalier moves around the giant to charge and sees that it is Cona - tied up and made to look 'wizardy'.

The slayer moves up and frees Cona who shouts 'he's above you fools' (note 100 foot ceilings are dark and out of sight even though the hall is lit by continual light spells - they have a 30 foot through so the ceiling is in a shroud).

Cona casts fly on the slayer - black tentacles take out the ranger and oracle and wizard - the wizard uses a school power to teleport the oracle and himself out of the tentacles - the ranger struggles. The cavalier feeds a potion of fly to his dog and joins the air battle.

The fight went pretty predictable here - until the wizard said 'bring it' resulting in a failed save for the cavalier against disintegrate - and a failed save for the wizard against baelful polymorph - resulting in a rabbit (the wizard kept his mind intact however - and the slayer could understand him due to his helm of comprehend languages). The cavalier was nothing but a pile of dust - another disintegrate was almost failed for the slayer - however a mythic surge saved the day - and the players were able to finish off the 38 hit points Big M had left - resulting in a big victory (after the oracle used the scroll of true resurrection found in the black monk scroll).

We now take a brake as the wizard takes over GM duties for our wrath of the righteous game - and I prep for book 5 - the library will be played via email between games using the research system.

My players are now level 14 tier 1 - I plan to bring them to level 20 tier 3 by the end.


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Basillicum wrote:

I've been playing around a little bit with ambience playing in the background during sessions, and feel like Foxglove Manor should have, well, just what you said. The sound of rats running around in the walls, and the wind brushing across the side of the building. Creaking, and so on and so forth.

Anyone used ambience like that successfully in Foxglove Manor? So far, I've not found anything fitting. There are some dungeon sounds in Baldur's Gate that would work well, I think, but I'm bad at looping and don't have the files anyway.

My players will get to Foxglove Manor shortly, and I've purchased the Skinsaw Murders SoundPack from Syrinscape to use with them. I highly recommend it! You can try it out with a free one-month subscription, if you like.


ElyasRavenwood wrote:

**

So after the Skinsaw Murders while the PCs are in Magnimar, I am planning to send them to Kaer Maga I am planning to run the group through the seven swords of sin in Kaer Maga. and then have them return to Sandpoint for the third book.

What do you think? are there lots of problems with this?

You are setting yourself up for loads of work, but if you like that kind of thing, go for it imho. Personally I like to make lots of alterations, especially to fit my PCs backstories into the story.

I've made Kaer Maga a big part of RotRL campaign. The Pathfinder Chronicles - City of Strangers, is great for Kaer Maga info. In particular, the monks of the Therassic Spire library have become closely allied to my PCs after they gave them the Revelation Quill, and later various books from within Runeforge. One of my PCs grew up in Kaer Maga, so involving the city was relatively simple.

In terms of change the campaign, I'm a fan of doing so during the campaign. Seeing what my PCs do then making adjustments. I was wondering where my PCs would end up choosing as their 'home base', it turned out to be Magnimar not Sandpoint. So that's where I've placed a lot of the home base side-story activities.


TexSIN wrote:
Haladir wrote:

I posted this in another thread, but I'll repeat it here...

Given that the number seven is so prevalent throughout this AP, I decided to add another chapter of Rise of the Runelords, to give it a Seven Book format.

Book 1: Burnt Offerings
Book 2: The Skinsaw Murders
Book 3: Hook Mountain Massacre
Book 4: The Seven Swords of Sin
Book 5: Fortress of the Stone Giants
Book 6: Sins of the Saviors
Book 7: Spires of Xin-Shalast

Here's my outline for Book 4...

Chapter 1: The Golemworks Incident
** spoiler omitted **.

Chapter 2: The Road to Kaer Maga
** spoiler omitted **...

Haladir I was wondering if you had any notes about how you presented the start of this chapter to them. I am gonna totally take this idea and I'm a bit stuck on how to proceed.

I'd like to caution you against running the Seven Swords of Sin module as published; It was designed as convention meat-grinder, built by committee, and success is measured not by completing the module but by how far into the dungeon you get before TPK. Each room is essentially a deathtrap, and there's little thought in how the rooms connect (or what happens if the PCs retreat from an encounter in one room and spring another). It's a classic dungeon crawl, which is generally at odds with how RotRL is designed.

That having been said, I did insert the module into my RotRL campaign (converted to 5e). Here's how it worked;

My PCs are operators of an Adventurers Guild in Sandpoint; At different points in the campaign they've switched from their "main" (10th level) characters to playing side-adventures that they've assigned to the guild recruits (6th level). This gives my players the chance to try out different character builds/personalities.

In the case of SSoS, in the aftermath of Stones over Sandpoint, authorities in Magnimmar reached out to the Guild to let the PCs know that they'd been unable to provide support to Sandpoint because of chaos in the city; A woman (Tirana) riding a black dragon (Casuval) attacked the Temple of Abadar and made off with the Sword of Lust. The temple priests had contacted the Pathfinders and learned that similar raids on storehouses of Thassilonian artifacts had been reported throughout Varisia. The temple then communed with their god and received portents that the power of ancient Thassilon is re-awakening (true); The priests fear that the Swords of Sin may be the key (false).

I gave my players the opportunity to choose which lead to play first; Tracking the fleeing giants to the Storval Stair, or sending the junior Guild recruits after Tirana. Narratively, both adventures would be occurring simultaneously. The players chose to go after Tirana first.

To better tie the module into RotRL, in my game Tirana was originally a collector of antiquities who'd come into possession of a Sword of Greed; As Karzoug began to awaken (at the same time the campaign kicks off), the sword also awoke and began to influence Tirana, making her Greedy. Because the connection is not complete, however, it only caused her to want to acquire more Thassilonian artifacts and knowledge, rather than make her Karzoug's direct thrall. When the adventure starts, she's obsessed with gathering the other Swords of Sin together so they can "talk" to her like the Sword of Greed is. She thinks that once she has them all she can become a Runelord herself.

Other things to consider;
- Make it clear to the players that the Temple of Abadar is offering a bounty on *any* of the Thassilonian artifacts recovered, not just the Sword of Lust. My players were half convinced by Tirana's ranting, so were reluctant to bring all the recovered Swords back with them - They ended up leaving the Sword of Sloth with Casuval as insurance against having all the swords in one place.
- If the PCs do any research or talk to Gadka, they should learn that Tirana is a noted collector/hoarder of the exotic, which explains the menagerie she's using as her lair in Kaer Maga. Gadka has been acting as her fixer for years, but recently she's been acting a bit unhinged - taking over the Splitstreet Thugs was his last straw in dealing with her.
- Your players will likely skip/avoid a number of the encounters if you make the goal "Confront Tirana and recover the sword," as opposed to "See how many rooms you can beat." My players stayed "on mission" and took the most direct path possible, so they missed a bunch of the traps/treasure.

Given the travel time involved in going to/from Kaer Maga, I had the Guild recruit PCs arrive back in Sandpoint just as the earthquake/sinkhole that starts Book 6 kicks off. We then switched back to the main characters; The players now know that something bad is going to happen to Sandpoint while they're off dealing with Mokmurian, but have no idea what/why. It was an effective cliffhanger.

Liberty's Edge

I ended up altering Orik quite a bit.
The Group ended up fighting Nualia and her entourage of goblins and bug bears in the chapel of thistle top Nualia fled as the only survivor.
Orik slept through this fight and the group was so worn down they looted bodies and then headed back to sandpoint to recover before finishing their exploring.
Next day on their way back I added Orik to my random encounter table.
I rolled and they encountered him. I'm rolling bluff checks and he is rolling really good while the party is doing poorly at sense motives.
They believe him to be a wandering mercenary whose employment recently ended. (technically not far from the truth even :P)
One of the party members offers him to gold to come with as their guard. Orik likes money so he agrees. They pay half his salary right up front.
Orik keeps offering to guard their retreat, at the horses before the bramble maze, at the bridge, at the stairs going down...
Before he had left I rolled for Orik and ended up having him ransack the first basement level and first floor of the fort. so the group finds the place in a more disheveled state than when they left. The part splits up one group (Druid, sorcerer) going down to the second level of the basement and the other (Rogue, Orik) heading to the tentramort den.
Orik had not been trying to be stealth in spite of being told to be. The thief tells him to guard the door while she sneaks past the Tentramort. Once the thief is out of sight I have ORik make a run for it.
The Druids familiar had been told to guard the bridge and pestered him long enough that the thief had figured out the deception and pursued him. When the Thief was half way across the bridge Orik managed to hack the ropes holding it sending her falling into the roiling strait below.
Orik escaped the familiar and ran off into the woods... To be continue? :P


Kreeg Clanhold
I changed all the ramps from ascending to descending with the exception of the one in the throne room. I also changed the throne room from being open to the air to having a ceiling at 40'.

As written, with smoke from the forges coming out the entrance, the air dynamics didn't work: if all the rooms are above the entrance, then every room would fill with smoke before it started coming out the entrance. Plus, I didn't understand how/why the throne room would be open to the air other than to provide Barl the ability to fly freely around and all the smoke would escape via that route if it were open.

So I made the area around the pit completely filled with smoke, because it was a sort of chokepoint(which happens to make the pit a nasty surprise for anyone blundering about), and had the PCs duck under the "smoke line" on the descent to Lunderbud. This gave my PCs a nice moment where they paused here, in the smoke, and listened to the two ogres teasing Lunderbud about being an ogre: They were trying to convince him to throw a rock into the passage up there because they heard something, and he was adamant that he couldn't.

When they figured out that the smoke cleared below, and that soon Lunderbud would start throwing rocks, they quickly moved in to fight.


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So I'm taking a page out of some other folks' books and decided to introduce the character of Marcus Scarnetti, eldest son of Titus, to serve as a potential red herring for the initial Skinsaw Murders investigation. He'll be more charming than his father, but just as ruthless. He'll also conveniently fall ill, refusing all visitors, shortly after the murders in the Sandpoint Lumber Mill to keep the suspicion up. (Otherwise, as soon as the first note from "His Lordship" shows up, my party is probably going to immediately think of Aldern, since they dislike him already.)

I figure he'll introduce himself to the PCs after their meeting with the town council following the events of Glass and Wrath (this is something I added to my first run-through as well. A member of Sandpoint's leadership as well as all of his workers are murdered. Even if Tsuto is left alive (and considering his pride in his work, I can't see him not confessing) certain members of the town leadership (ex. Titus Scarnetti) are going to be suspicious of the tales of a bunch of adventurers and be willing to at least hint that maybe Tsuto and Ameiko worked together to get their father out of the picture. As such, it shouldn't be a given that the Kaijitsu properties default to Ameiko.) and apologize for his father's behavior, then ask the subject of Aldern's obsession out to dinner.

I will say that as-written, the Envy motivation for the Skinsaw Man works a lot better as a mystery, since there are a number of possible suspects, while the Lust motivation is pretty quickly narrowed down to "Which nobles hit on the high Charisma female party member?"


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Well, Marcus Scarnetti has worked out beautifully. The party despises him (mostly because of his father, but they also find him "too smooth" to be on the up-and-up) and they also caught him speaking to a cloaked figure near the Sawmill during Burnt Offerings. When pressed on it, he eventually admitted that he had heard rumors that one of the family's employees had been stealing from them and had someone looking into it, but it was none of their concern.

He also sent a letter inviting the female noble swashbuckler to dinner "to tell me about your grand heroics" after the party dealt with Nualia. She sent him a letter in return politely, but firmly, turning him down. (Though she was very tempted to send the letter her friend Ameiko jokingly wrote in her stead that was outright insulting.)

Now the murders have happened, he's the party's prime suspect (after deciding it wasn't Ven, despite the party wizard's extreme distaste for the man. The wizard was the object of Shayliss' attention, but things went in a very different direction after he refused her invitation and he ended up trying to play mediator between Banny and Ven.) and no one has mentioned the name Aldern Foxglove once.

Of course, we left off the session with a pair of scarecrows tearing themselves free of their frames with a shriek and lunging towards the party, so they should figure out the real killer next session.

Shadow Lodge

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I altered most of the second half of Book Two:

Part Two:
I ruled that people killed by Ghoul Fever could become ghouls at noon as well as midnight; it just can't happen in direct sunlight. So Grayst died and turned while they were grilling him, and the PCs made Diplomacy to apologize to Dr. Caizarlu. He cured one PC's infection, gave them more information after they agreed to send any traumatized farmers to Dr. Habe, and later cured another PC who had snorted the Ghoul Mold. They never even asked about the zombies.

Part Four:
As soon as they entered the manor, I put on a different voice and narration style. Until the end, even after I switched to the first person, nobody caught on that Vorel himself had been watching, "Ever since you first began to flow through my veins." Vorel was thinking of adopting them so they could spread him further, but I let them scour him off the face of Golarion by use of holy water, soul soap, and admonitions of every bad thing he did. As for Aldern, he just couldn't come to terms with his own undeath, and dissociated between "Aldern Foxglove, alive victim" and "Lord of the Skinsaws". His fixation was on a witch whose player had left the group early on, and was infuriated that she hadn't come to make him alive again, no matter what he did for her and how nice he had been to her. Then he tried to kill everyone. Also, I swapped out his rogue levels for swashbuckler.

Part Five:
The Faceless Stalkers didn't want to fight and die in the cushiest place they'd ever been. They were afraid of the PCs, begging them not to attack. When they didn't, the impostors gave gleaming, biased information about Xanesha, including the fact that she probably wouldn't be back for a while. Not only did the PCs never ask them about themselves, they even offered to help them move into the now-evil-free Foxglove Manor.

Part Six:
Since the PCs tried to lie their way into the Sawmill on a Toilday afternoon, I had one of the surviving Skinsaws yell, "I'll hold 'em off; get Ironbriar!" while the rest ran away. Using a mix of Chase and Pursuit rules, they had to navigate their way across Magnimar, ask where Ironbriar lived (they had met him during the trial of Chief Ripnugget - their reaction to his sentencing of "hanged by the neck, while on fire, until deemed fit to re-enter polite society"? "Okay, I guess."), they met him in his back garden. They fought him (a Sanctified Slayer/Infiltrator Inquisitor), two halflings (Cult Leader warpriests) and two humans (standard cleric/rogues) at once, buffed due to prior warning and the Trickery domain's Veil ability, and only one of the humans ran away. After heading back to the Sawmill to ransack the place and find Ironbriar's secret stash, they decided to spend a night in the same Calistrian bordello Ironbriar sequestered them in for the trial.

Part Seven:
A Hellknight apprehended the fleeing Skinsaw, who panicked and claimed four monsters murdered Ironbriar as he tried to defend the Justice. Grorboras heard his story, figured there was a lot more to this, and had the PCs subpoenaed. I'm going to hold the party first, as a way to introduce the new kobold ambassadors to groups like the Hellknights and Pathfinders, let the Lord-Mayor's secretary (re-statted Aristocrat 1/Investigator 4) help them decode the journal, and make up for being slightly under-treasure. They'll get stuff like Gloves of Arcane Cheating and Boots of the Cat, and Grorboras will notice that one of them got Garvok from Nualia. He'll introduce them to a Pathfinder Agent, and lend them Baraket, the only Sword of Sin not to have been stolen by Viorian or Tirana. Since Xanesha's human guise ("Anne X. Escher") never went to the party, they'll have to confront her in her hideout.

I'm also re-characterizing Haldmeer Grorboras a bit: he'll want that specific bit of corruption made known and publicly denounced, so as to encourage months and months of legal and judicial reform while simultaneously directing scrutiny away from his wasting of taxpayer money on lavish parties.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you're planning on running Curse of the Crimson Throne after you finish Rise of the Runelords, I suggest throwing Academy of Secrets into the mix to act as an introduction to Korvosa. Crimson Throne is a great adventure, but if it falls flat anywhere, it's that it doesn't do a good job of introducing Korvosa before Eodred's death, and things go wrong immediately. I'm currently running it as a prologue with the 12th level iconics, and it's working, but I know I'd prefer it with PCs that the players are invested in and know how they work, as opposed to six stat blocks that the players need to decipher during play for the first two sessions.

Shadow Lodge

I brought the group to Kaer Maga in between books 2 and 3, but without sending them through the Seven Swords of Sin dungeon. Basically, they had to go from lead to lead (bloatmages, fortune-telling troll whose sons had recently gone missing, zombie shop) to find Tirana in her sort of penthouse.

Plot Significance:
Tirana was the most recent addition to the Siblings of the Seven - a sin wizard from Kaer Maga who knew of the Alara'hai, and wanted to figure out a way to use all of them at once. Due to how the PCs ended up, I decided to make her an undead master Gluttony Necromancer 11, using stuff from Horror Adventures and Inner Sea Magic. With the help of Ironbriar and Xanesha, she stole Garvok & Ungarato a few months after Chellan woke up and took Viorian as its wielder. Nualia got Garvok, while Ungarato liked Tirana and offered her a taste of its true power. Rather than help as directed, she noticed Ironbriar had been charmed, figured out some of what Xanesha was planning, and fled back to her home. Rather than brainwash the wielders of the other Swords of Sin like she would if she was a lust enchanter, instead she wanted to create undead to wield them. She managed to make three of her minions into ghouls, then Commanded them to help her. She's ready for an attack from Xanesha or Norgorberites

At the zombie shop, the PCs encountered three people who overheard them asking about Tirana, and offered to show them to her. Once out of sight, they attacked with claws and bites. One begged them not to kill him until he told them about Tirana. He was horrified that she made him a ghoul, then disguised him to look as if he was alive. He gave them directions to where she lived, telling them they could help her by getting that terrible-looking sword away from her. He couldn't just let them kill him, but he could let them prepare, so as to reduce him hurting them.

As for Tirana, who had no abjurations, she had to make do for security with a squeaky door, a pipe that could echo sound upstairs, and a Flesh Puppet butler who asked everyone who they were and why they wanted to see Tirana. She assumed the worst, and kept the puppet talking with them while she cast her buff spells away from the pipe.

The butler stopped outside the door to her sitting room and told them two important things: "I've been stalling you for long enough for Tirana to prepare, and I've been dead this whole time." Then she dismissed the spell and he fell to the floor in a heap.

She had Heightened Awareness, Scary Mirror Image, two troll skeletons, three total human/dwarven zombies, and a permanent Symbol of Pain in her bedroom. She had to cast Flesh Wall ("Wall of Zombies", I called it) to give her time to cast Khain's Army ("Emergency Ghouls"). When it was just down to her, she wanted to D-Door away, but Ungarato instead got her to cast Tirana's Transformation and fight hand-to-hand. After they looted her Ring of Sustenance and didn't bother to Identify it, her Death Contingency kicked in and her corpse ordered all undead to attack everyone. Good thing she didn't have any more undead at the time.

Then they left Kaer Maga and the former-PC druid got to lead them straight through the Ashwood. Should I give the stats for Tirana-as-necromancer?


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The last time I ran RotRL, the 2nd book ended up having my players skip over Habe's and even the farmsteads due to them connecting the odd taunts to Aldern from their brief interactions at the beginning of the adventure path.

Now that I am running the game a second time, with a new group, I have been toying with the idea of changing the dates for his romance and marriage to Iesha to help throw off what I feel is a little too obvious.

Instead of the marriage and ensuing death occurring before the AP starts, I plan on having my players receive invitations to Aldern's whirlwind of a marriage ceremony shortly after the end of Book 1. The players will get to meet Iesha, breathe a huge sigh of relief that the awkward nobleman has someone else to be interested in and everything will seem peachy keen when book 2 starts.


That’s not a bad way of doing things.


tonyz wrote:
That’s not a bad way of doing things.

Thanks! I just always felt that the whole situation with Aldern and Iesha could have more of a punch if the players got to actually have more interaction with them then just saving Aldern and a single boar hunt.


DeviantDesign wrote:
tonyz wrote:
That’s not a bad way of doing things.
Thanks! I just always felt that the whole situation with Aldern and Iesha could have more of a punch if the players got to actually have more interaction with them then just saving Aldern and a single boar hunt.

Agreed. I usually just keep him around for the first week of in game play. Once the hit the Glassworks, that's when I plan for him to take off. Gives plenty of time for interaction with the players, and plenty of chances for me to play him like the tool bag I like to think he is lol.

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