So my party just defeated Kazmojen and rescued the orphans. During the fight, Pyllrat did his vanishing act. And Orbius 'ported in, stole Terrem, and 'ported out.
When my players returned the orphans to the orphanage, they saw that Terrem was already there, safe and sound. Words like "doppleganger" and "brain-washed" were bantered around. They are convinced something is special about him. I also hinted that he had bad dreams. (Foreshadowing endgame stuff.)
What do they do? Take him to the Church and leave him there for safekeeping. Now I have to figure out how the bad guys get him.
Also, they want to investigate why the Last Laugh was trying to keep Ruphos from investigating the orphanage, and they want to clear out Jzadirune.
I also have to deal with the fact that there is now an open door to the Underdark, and the eventually, the powers that be in the town will hear about it.
Any suggestions on how I should juggle these things?
For the open door to the Underdark, a good way to handle it is to have the Stormblades be tasked with handling it. They can take plenty of glory in collapsing the tunnel and saving the city from the terrors of the Underdark - just the thing to tweak the party into annoyance. Then, if there's some treasure down there your party missed, have the Stormblades find it and donate the proceeds to the city (perhaps even the Lantern Street Orphanage).
I had a bit of a Drow subplot where the campaign area sat atop a ruined drow empire. There was nothing left but ruins so it just allowed me to sprinkle in flavor bits. I said that the dwarven fortress was built to guard against the drow before the empire fell. My party wanted to take over the place and use it as a base of operations but before they could purchase it from the city the Stormblades had been tasked with going in and collapsing the tunnel. This helped promote the animosity between the party and the Stormblades, which became a very fun subplot as well.
As far as Terrem being left in the custody of the church it is easy to say that one of the Cagewrights has infiltrated the church and thus, moving him out when they begin their ritual is a simple matter. I had the church fractured by this point since the paladin, whose name I can't remember, was dead by then and Lady Jenya was being edged out by the secretly Cagewright bishop.
Alientude, I have seen people talk about collapsing the tunnels and what not, having the Stormblades involved and all that. My dilemma is how quickly that should take place. This party went headlong trying to rescue the kids, so I'd hate to deprive them of wealth/loot just to add a little tension. But I also know that the powers of the city won't want a backdoor open to the Underdark, so collapsing the tunnel is going to happen. Again, how much of a time frame to I give them?
Joshua, I also considered having Lord Vhalantru adopt the boy after endearing himself to the party...for the boy's protection of course.
On second thought, my comment should be put behind a spoiler space.
As far as the tunnel collapse, I gave it about a week of game time. My players blitzed in, rescued the kids, put down the bad guys, got cowed by the big bad, and went back to the city. It was a couple days before the kid turned up back at the orphanage and it was a bit longer before they even thought to ask about the old keep again.
Of course, I moved a lot of stuff around geographically and completely redesigned the city, placing it at the base of the volcano and changing the name to Caldera. i thought that a city named cauldron in the volcano was a tad too outrageous and the players would be constantly waiting for the volcano to erupt. The way i ran it I did a Pompeii kind of scenario in Foundation of Flame that worked quite well and the party didn't expect that the volcano I said was dormant was going to erupt.
That would be awesome! My experience DMing is fairly limited, and I'm running the module as written with very minor adjustments here and there, and updated things to Pathfinder when I can.
My group is a bunch of novices players, with maybe one or two who has any depth of experience. So we're all learning a little.
I had Terrem show back up the evening after the rescue, but before the party returned the kids to the orphanage. The looks on their faces when I had Gretchen say something to the returned kids to the effect of "When Terrem got back last night by himself, I feared so much for the rest of you..." was PRICELESS!
Having the Stormblades collapse the way to the Underdark is probably IMO, as already mentioned, the best way to both introduce the Stormblades to your party, and to force your players to look for Jared's Hut, a couple of chapters down the road, in order to reach Zenith's whereabouts.
As far as the issue of taking Terrem away from the church (of St Cuthbert) is concerned, there are literally tons of opportunities to do so without even informing the party about it. It is very probable that the church will not keep Terrem locked in a room for ever, so... there you go... you can easily snatch him up from the market, say for example at the Umber Hulk event.
Concerning the Last Laugh investigation, you can probably get your party to meet Artus the broker a bit earlier than expected (chapter 3). Also, if you use the Hardcopy, your players will probably get to interact with Jil in the second chapter very soon. You can stage a small raid into a LL-safe house that will boost their confidence, and maybe even some kind of retaliation so as not to overextend themselves. Maybe you can trick them into thinking that both Drathkar's Way (chapter 2 of the HC) and the Kopru Ruins (chapter 3 of the HC, chapter 2 if you use Dungeon magazine issues) are Last Laugh strongholds. Either way, it is my opinion that at the end of the day, your players will probably become more concerned about moving on with the core plot than pursuing various sub-plots.
Just my two pence.
Leftkeh, great points! Thanks for the input.
I was brainstorming a little bit the other day and came to the conclusion that their investigation of the LL could be fun, and a way to lead into Drakthar's Way. One of the players opted for a "theives guild" backstory, so I threw him in with the Alleybashers. A show down is imminent one way or another.
But I could use the investigation to intro Jil (she managed to avoid detection in the first event) and put them on the scent of the goblin graffiti artists. Kind of a, "help me, I'll help you" thing.
Also decided to roll 2d4-1 to find out how quickly the mayor or the town guard find out about Keygan and Jzadirune. Once that time is up, I will have the Stormblades collapse the tunnel and have Keygan arrested. (Love the trial idea.)
As for Terrem, well, I'm sure the good clerics of St Cuthbert will try to make a good acolyte out of him. I don't think that will suit him much. I'll have him complain about it, and run away eventually....
So much easier to be nabbed.
Anyway, great thoughts, awesome input. More more than welcome feedback in my plans.
As part of my introductory adventure at the beginning of Ch. 1, my party hired on to escort a Garthun caravan from Eleder (vice Sasserine) to Cauldron. Their cargo included a large shipping box which contained, unbeknownst, Mhad the vampire in her coffin, boxed up in a shipping crate. Mhad would come out at night and feed on, but not kill, the other caravan guards who would display symptoms of light sensitivity, nausea, and lethargy. The players thought it was from poor hygiene practices. Mhad developed a special taste for the caravan leader's (one Polk D. (Drak) Thar) blood. She killed him after arriving in Cauldron, turning him into a vampire spawn. He assumed the name Drakthar because it sounded more appropriate for a vampire than "Polk". Mhad's coffin was delivered to Thifirane's residence.
After the party rescued Terrem, Thifirane would routinely sponsor children from the orphanage to come to her house for recreation. While there, Mhad would feed on them but never enough to kill them. Between domination and Thifirane's arcane skills, they would make the children forget being fed on and then send them back to the orphanage.
In later newspaper stories, reports arose of a sickness spreading in Cauldron in which citizens reported light sensitivity, nausea, and lethargy providing a lead-in to Drakthar's Way.
We had our session last night, and it went amazingly well. I had intended to let them chase after whatever leads they wanted to chase after, but we kind of ended up diving right into Chapter Two. This is how things played out.
We took up where we had left off last time, with the party conversing with Jenya after dropping off Terrem. She's agreed to take him on and raise him as an acolyte for St. Cuthbert.
After that, they decided to chase down the Last Laugh. (One of the party members belongs to the Alleybashers, and has ambitions to take down the rival guild.) They figured the town guard would have an interest in eliminating a thieves guild, so that went to speak with Captain Skellerang. Their boldness in speaking about taking down the Last Laugh was met by laughter, but the party persisted. One of them intimated that surely the town guard had informants that could be leaned on to learn more about the LL. So the good Captain made them a deal. Take care of the recent goblin problem the town's been having, and perhaps a name or two could be given out.
By this point, the players are thinking this is just a side quest, and not a major plot point. I used the session to introduce Skylar Krewis, dropped the Stormblades name, intimating that they've been tasked with collapsing the tunnels under Ghelve's, who incidentally has been taken in for questioning. Jil made an appearance (one of the place I randomly chose for graffiti was the Brass Trumpet.)
By the end of the session, the party had dropped by Orak's during business hours (I had Jil drop the hint to get them away from the Trumpet)and the party was attacked by the wererats. It was a difficult battle (no silver weapons) so the players are talking about how they should rectify that soon. All in all, things are going according to plan! Mwa hahaha!!!
For Underdark ideas, given the location in Greyhawk near the Hellfurnaces, it's not terribly far from the Vault of the Drow.
In my campaign, I had many of the slaves being sold to the Drow, as Kazmojen & Pyllrak with duergar guards as refugees from the aggression of the Kingdom of the Ghouls.
I had the Stormblades sticking a toe into the Underdark, but both parties fear it so far. The city wants the opening to the Underdark for trade, since Cauldron iz isolated, and because I added teleportal gate to another fallen dwarvish holding now taken over by duergar -- the Forge of Fury -- in the Malachite Fortress. With an Underdark entrance and teleport to mainland Greyhawk, the Malachite Fortress is a critical trade resource for the city, like the port it so sorely lacks.