New PFS GM. Questions on Thornkeep

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Greetings, I am looking at running Thornkeep Accursed halls for a group of pathfinders and was hoping someone could help me with a few questions.

1. How much fame and PP do the players get for finishing the accursed halls?
2. Can the entire accursed halls be ran in a 5 hour time frame?
3. Any thing else i should be watchful of?

Thank you

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Hello, Casien. I've run the Accursed Halls 6 times now; I'm a huge fan of Thornkeep. I'm glad to see someone else wanting to run it.

1) Along with 3 XP, PCs should get 4 Pestige Points.

2) That's a good question. It depends on what you run, and how. There's a group of GMs down in St. Louis who have gotten very good at running Thornkeep fast, like 4 hours per level. I can't do that.

I look at Thornkeep as a unified dungeon. For the first four levels, Accursed Halls through Dark Menagerie, there are two questions the PCs need to answer: (a) who built the dungeons under Thornkeep, and (b) what happened to the four Pathfinders who went exploring the place a month ago? PCs need some scaffolding to understand the questions and guidance to see where they could look for the answers.

I also see Thornkeep as a dynamic town environment. It's like Hommlet or the Keep on the Borderlands.

The town of Thornkeep, in addition to offering a room for the night (choose wisely) and supplies (as long as you don't mind the original owner's heraldry on the shield you buy) also offers some clues. For example, spending time talking to the Blue Basilisk mercenaries helps prepare the party for what lies beyond the statue of the demon lord on level 1. (Demon lord? Who builds statues to a demon lord? That's a piece of the puzzle for question a.) Negotiating goblin chief Groolsk helps with the upper levels, as well as providing a ready market for the sacred-to-goblins treasure you find.

If you ignore the town and the backstory, you could get through the Accursed Halls in 5 hours.

3) The scale of the maps is one square = 10 feet, not 5. The Accursed Halls are huge.

There's a guy in twon who's willing to sell the party healing for half-price under certain circumstances. That's really handy for the first few levels.

After the party climbs some stairs and defeats some archers, there are a lot of spell effects that can happen, all at once. It's better to sort through all of them ahead of time and understand what they do and how they interact before the players encounter them.

If the PCs run across any seemingly dead bodies, pay close attention to where they're supposed to be and how they're supposed to be arranged.

Read up on the jumpy bugs. They're more dangerous than they seem.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas

1) As mentioned, it is 4 Fame/PP for each level of Thornkeep.

2) It strongly depends on the party makeup, players, and how deep you all go into RP. Bare bones, just jumping in, using just a few skill checks for general knowledge, and you can get them, into it quickly.

If their die rolls go south, and the GM gets good rolls, encounters can wind up taking forever.

I have seen where the second encounter really used up party resources and took a long time because of some exceptional rolls on both sides. Ever seen a goblin successfully bullrush a fighter and a cleric off a balcony?

3) There are several encounters that should be handled with eyes wide open from the GM side of the screen.

The wight, shadow and fungal crawlers are all potentially deadly encounters.

The wight, while positionally in a bad spot initially, has a bunch of hit points, and is a one hit = one kill against 1st level PCs. His to hit is low, he starts prone, but can absorb a lot of damage, so it can be a bit of a race. And, if he does get someone, it gets worse, since they rise as another wight.

The shadow is a bit ugly, since, especially if the PCs are totally new, they may not have any way to deal with an incorporeal enemy. The cleric, if there is one, can usually channel to deal with it, but it, also, has some advantages on its side. Incorporeal, does a touch attack for Str damage, and kills opponents if their Str reaches zero. And then the target rises as a shadow, themself.

The fungal crawlers can be ugly, especially if you forget to include the two dead goblins on the floor of the room as a tacit warning of danger. Depending on whether they can leap/charge into combat,. and whether they get a surprise round, it can turn ugly. Regular surprise round is one attack. If they leap/charge, they get four attacks. And, on regular rounds, their full attack is three attacks.

If the PCs get bottlenecked in the entrance, they will almost certainly lose, since the action economy would be in the favor of the fungal crawlers. If the PCs can get into the room, then they can turn it around. But it is a CR 5 encounter, so it will be challenging (epic?) for 1st level PCs.

And, as mentioned, keep yuour eye on that map. It is drawn in the book at 1 square = 10', so it covers a lot of ground. If you can use mapping paper or some such to get the thing pre-drawn, it will save a lot of time.

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