Skinsaw Murders -- how long to run?

Rise of the Runelords

I'm planning to step behind the GM's screen for the first time after nearly 20 years as a player, and I'm thinking of running my game group through "The Skinsaw Murders" as a standalone adventure.

For those of you who've run or playing through this part of the ROTR adventure path, how long did it take to get through it? What about playing through just tbe Misgivings chapter alone?

Well, my group tends to play slow, but looking at my old Adventure Log...

We started Skinsaw Murders on Session 23, which we played on Nov 30, 2011; we finished on Session37, which we played on March 21, 2012.

So, 15 game sessions over 4 months.

As for just Misgivings...

We started the Misgivings section halfway through Session 25 on December 15th 2011, and finished during the first half of Session 30, which we played on 1 February 2012. Six sessions... but really only five.

Again, my group played pretty slowly.

I will say that Misgivings was very much the highlight of my (sadly aborted) Runelords campaign...

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm currently running my group through Skinsaw as well, and they're just a bit over halfway finished. Below's my rough estimate of how long everything took, as well as a rough estimate for you on the length of the story.


Session 1: ~4 hours. Belor let them know that there's been a pair of murders, and they dealt with the Sanatorium.

Session 2: ~2 hours. They were about to head to the Misgivings, but Maester Grump told them about the scarecrows. They stopped right before they fought the ghouls in the barnyard.

Session 3: ~2 hours. Again, I was slowplaying, as one of my players was unable to make this game and the last, and I didn't want to start the Misgivings without them (for obvious reasons). They cleared out the rest of the farm.

Session 4: ~3.5 hours. They cleared all of the ground floor, all of the second floor, and stopped right as they discovered Iesha.

Session 5: ~3.5 hours. They finished exploring the attic, explored the basement, and just dealt with the skaveling. All that's left are the remaining ghouls in the caverns, the goblin ghasts, and Aldern himself.

So, 15 hours over 5 sessions, for about 3 hours/session. I figure session six will be the remainder of the Misgivings and plans to move on to Magnimar, session seven will be arrival and searching Aldern's townhouse, session eight will be the lumber mill, and session nine will be the clock tower. Throw in a tenth to cover anything the players want to do, and you're probably looking at thirty hours of content, by my standard.

My players missed a bunch of the Misgivings encounters, but it took them 5 or 6 session to play the entire adventure. I think the misgivings section could be done in 3-4. I find most of the adventures from Pathfinder APs take us 6-7 sessions to play through. I'm hoping to do the entire RotRL campaign in 40 sessions.

Liberty's Edge

15 hours sounds about right. That's about what our group did in 3 sessions.

For our group, Burnt Offerings took 8 sessions of gameplay over 4 months running about 40 hours of table time, but our group is heavy on the table talk and rules disputes, so that's probably about 20 hours of actual gameplay. We didn't continue on to Skinsaw (and if we did, we'd still be in the middle of it now), but I'd imagine it would be about the same length.

Depending on the length of your sessions and your policies on OOC conversation, this may vary, but 6-8 sessions is probably a reasonable estimate unless you have "marathon" 8+ hour sessions.

We play for about a 3-4 hours a shot and did it in 5 sessions.

We finished the entire Skinsaw Murders in 4 marathon 8+ hour weekend sessions spread about over a month. To be fair, there was a lot of roleplaying and general mucking about the whole time- if they just straight up did the adventure we could have finished in 3 sessions.

Session 1: Investigated the murders, Habe's Sanatorium, Maester Grump
Session 2: Misgivings (took entire weekend)
Session 3: Foxglove Townhouse, Seven's Sawmill, lots and lots of procrastination
Session 4: Shadow Clock, but the actual dungeon did not take long, most of the time was spent in town.

The Skinsaw Man and the Misgivings itself are by far the most compelling villain in the scenario.

I plan to actually extend the screen time of the Skinsaw Man when I run it.

I want to have some cat and mouse encounters in the city itself as the players try to prevent murders by the Skinsaw Man, stringing out some of the red herrings to give it a Jack the Ripper investigation feel, before leading them to Foxglove Manor.

I plan to modify the Skinsaw Man so that he actually still appears as a somewhat human, though unraveling Aldern Foxglove, who believes, somewhat correctly, the Skinsaw Man to be his grandfather Vorel, and believes Vorel to be a completely seperate entity who is stalking him and has killed his wife, among other things.

I am definitely ripping off the idea of ghoulish dinner engagement, and will use the ghoul crows to trap the players inside Foxglove Manor.

At the climax of the Misgivings exploration, the players will 'save' Aldern from the Skinsaw Man, or believe they have, by destroying Vorel's fungus. Then, the Skinsaw man will take control and sever Aldern's head with his war razor and throw it at the players. The Skinsaw man, now a headless Dread Ghoul with a tentacle tongue issuing from it's neck, will escape up the well.

Regenerating his head, the Skinsaw Man will now be the Lich Vorel, in the body of a Ghast, at last gaining his freedom, as the Misgivings begin to crumble, Usher-like, around the players, forcing them to escape.

The Skinsaw Man will then kill the 'Angel', taking over her tower and control of the Skinsaw Cult.

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