Expanding the start of the adventure (some minor spoilers)

Reign of Winter

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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I'm looking for ideas on how I can expand the start of the AP into something a bit more interesting. Once things get going, it looks like tons of fun, but as it is now, the start of the adventure basically boils down to "read half a page of box-text and get a mission briefing from some guy you've never met." Which is fine for something like a PFS game, but I think a whole Adventure Path deserves more.

I plan to have things start with the Midsummer's Eve Festival in Heldren, and have carnival games similar to what has been suggested in the Swallowtail Festival threads. At some point in the day, Old Mother Theodora is going to collapse in a fit, crying out about "cold and darkenss", "winter is coming", and "the ravens gather, and crows fly away!"

I think this will be a nice way to start things off. However, I then need to keep the PCs in town for a week while the bad guys set up. So I'm looking for ideas of things to do in town to keep the PCs occupied.

In particular, I'd like them to meet both Old Man Dansby and Dryden Kepp, since they will both appear (posthumously) later in the adventure.

I was thinking maybe something along the lines of protecting Old Man Dansby's field from bandits might work. But I need to make sure that the PCs don't follow the bandits back to their camp before the bad guys are all settled in.

Any thoughts?

Have a Midsummer's Eve festival. At the height? Storm clouds gather and the temperature drops significantly. Snow is even seen falling mixed in the rain. None of it sticks. After that it warms up again... but not as warm. And reports start coming in of the Winter Pocket. Most people laugh it off, some people even claim a rogue Druid was to blame but was obviously killed as the "snowstorm" didn't keep up.

However, I'd say have some stuff PRIOR to the festival. Stuff to link the players to the community. Helping out a farmer, or maybe even meeting the rangers whose lodge ends up taken by Rokhar. Lead UP to the festival... and then have it become the big thing.

Yes, the PCs will likely be 2nd level when they reach Rokhar in that situation... but that's not a bad thing considering how lethal he's proven.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Tangent101 wrote:
However, I'd say have some stuff PRIOR to the festival. Stuff to link the players to the community. Helping out a farmer, or maybe even meeting the rangers whose lodge ends up taken by Rokhar.

I love the idea of meeting the rangers! I'll have to figure out something to do with them...

I have a real neat idea for something. Maybe you could run a little "Coming of Age" adventure, akin to Crypt of the Everflame, only let it happen the way it is intended to be by the village. The Midsummer Festival can be the height of the celebration when the triumphant "heroes" return from their mission.

For me, the answer lay in playing up the invasion aspect a bit. By making it clear that these things crawling through the inexplicably snowy forest are the advance scouting party for an invasion force, I was able to get the players thinking tactically. I also fleshed out a lot of the surrounding forest with additional encounters so they could take any of a number of routes to get to the portal (they ended up approaching from Owl Lake).

This seemed to reduce the "proceed to next encounter, fight, proceed to next encounter" feel that had my players kind of bored initially (and, to be fair, is largely my fault).

As far as the Black Rider's wall of text, I think less is more in this case. Have him give the PCs _just_ enough information to get them pointed in the right direction, but leave as much of it mysterious as you can. This way they're still trying to figure a lot out as they trudge toward the white tower. I failed in this regard, but I think if you could get them to the Dancing Hut without them knowing what they're really after, they could have a lot of fun discovering what this weird thing is capable of.

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