5-22 Scars of the Third Crusade


GM Discussion

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4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Nashville aka Wolfspirit

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Now that it's not breaking "street date", I'd like to offer a warning: Do not run this scenario cold. There's a lot to keep track of between various modifiers, tracks, evidence, and events. It does look like a fun investigation scenario, but could definitely use a single page cheat sheet for the various things you have to keep track of. I've started working on one, but I'm not sure if it's too much to post in the Shared Prep.

Additionally, there are a few errors, typos, and inconsistencies that I noticed. Some are minor editorial issues, while others could potentially alter how various tracks are run:

p. 6. The Town Sentiment Track #16 has formatting issues. At the end of the block, the text should say "Begin Encounter 5." and then continue with "Dalton Krunne..." that is under the break.
p. 7. "Visiting the prisoners" lists a Track Adjustment of "+2" while the Development for "Interviewing the Prisoners" says 1 point
p. 7. "Each day (or fraction thereof) that the PCs spend in Dawnton": This is a little confusing. Presumably this should be interpreted as "Each day (full or partial) that the PCS spend in Dawnton." It might have been easier to start the Opposition Track at 1 and have both Town and Opposition advance on a full day.
p. 7. "Any action that gets widespread attention, buying a round for the house"- It's unclear if this includes winning events in the Fairgrounds.
p. 11. “Other Investigations.” There isn't a "Carousing" listing. Use the "Beer Garden" listing instead.

Additionally, here's how I interpret the "Other Investigations"
paragraph:
If the PCs go “off script,” reward their creativity by basing the results of what they do to a similar Investigation above. For example, if they choose to drink whiskey with an old farmer outside of town, use the “Beer Gardens” Investigation to determine what they learn. This will give them something concrete for the game time spent and their ingenuity. Additionally, any off-script encounter should point the PCs toward either Otto’s farm, Orug’s general store, or Tobias Luin’s house. Those are the three locations with unique and important clues.

p. 13-14. It's unclear if the Advancement of the Town Sentiment Track factors in the -2 for modifying Tobias Luin's attitude to Friendly.

Overall inconsistency of the name “Sheriff Tobias Luin”: It almost seems like there were two NPCs condensed into one and different parts of the name are used interchangeably in the Track Descriptions. It's just one guy.

Minor typos:
p. 4. Typo quotation mark after the word “trip.”
p. 7. "Each phase the spend investigating one or more locations" appears to be missing a word

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Yeah, do not run this if you can't sink your teeth into it and wrap your head around it.

I'm also working on a master cheat sheet because there's so much to juggle.

Shadow Lodge

Its really not that bad once you realize that all the events are going to happen no matter what, just faster or slower. They did make it extremely complicated for something that could be a lot more simple. And they probably should have reiterated that once all the false rumors are out, you ger info that indicates they are false or off.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Not exactly correct, DM Beckett.

"Should the PCs learn all of the true rumors, each additional true
rumor instead debunks one of the false rumors that PCs have already heard. If you roll a false rumor that the PCs have already heard, repeat the rumor with minor changes to the details to cast doubt as to whether or not it might actually be true."

So, additional True rumors auto-debunk while, while additional False rumors muddy the waters.

The Exchange

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I had some trouble wrapping my head around the omissions in this scenario. Likely the author had included the details but they were removed by the editor for the sake of word count. A lot is left up to the GM to pull out of thin air when the players start asking questions. There's nothing about who the victims were. The evidence against the accused Pathfinders is laughable. Why wait so long to hang a trio of murderers if the case was so open-and-shut? It should help to play up the village residents as prejudiced and unconcerned about that 'cityfolk' concept of a fair trial. Here are some ideas I jotted down:

Timeline:

Day 1 Ekira arrives in Dawnton
Day 7 Krunne arrives in Dawnton
Day 14 Krunne sends letter to VC Jorsal
Day 17 VC Jorsal receives letter, summons first PF team
Day 19 PF team departs Nerosyan
Day 21 Krunne commits first murder
Day 22 PF team arrives in Dawnton and begin to survey the environs, Krunne places victim's body on Otto's farm,
Day 23 Tovril steals dagger from Dakota Spire, Krunne commits second murder, drops Spire's dagger on the scene, Krunne sends anonymous letter to Ekira, PF team arrested
Day 24 PF team tried & sentenced to be hanged, Krunne sends next letter to VC Jorsal
Day 27 VC Jorsal receives next letter, summons PCs
Day 29 VC Jorsal briefs PCs, PCs depart Nerosyan
Day 32 PCs arrive in Dawnton at dusk, begin to investigate
Day 36 First PF team executed at dawn if not cleared of the murders

The Victims:
First victim
Dancel Parsipp, farmer, 20 years old. Was returning home from Dawnton in the early evening when killed by Krunne. Skinned in a hidden location, then carried to Otto's farm where he was hung up within sight of the farmhouse. His body was identified (dental records?) by his family and buried on their land a mile away from Otto's Farm.

Second victim
Johan Scramford, aspiring bard, 25 years old. Was returning to the tent city after dark, having visited a friend in the village. Lured into the alley behind the General Store, Krunne murders him with Dakota Spire's dagger. He flees after Orug happens upon the scene. His body was buried in the local graveyard.

EDIT: I'll add this also; it won't be hard for the PCs to undermine the evidence against the arrested agents. The key will be proving it. Likely no one in the village will accept the PC's 'expertise' until they can prove who DID in fact commit the murders. Throw the Pathfinders' reputation as murderhobos in the players' faces. Refer to the massacre in Ravenmoor as an example. The point is that Dawnton is not under the same laws as a modern country. They had a village meeting, an Inquisitor of Iomedae spoke passionately to the Pathfinders' guilt, the villagers had a vote and the majority believed the accused were guilty. To these people, that's justice. Now they wait twelve days to hang 'em ;)

Silver Crusade 2/5

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Spoiler:
"People around here liked Daniel; he was always Willing to lend a hand. Them outsider pathfinders killed him. That's settled. It's the slow part of the year, and the hanging's bringing in people and money -- and something to talk about. What? Someone else may have killed them? Prove it -- and bring us the perpetrator so we can hang him. Someone's getting hung."

;)

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Nashville aka Wolfspirit

@DM Beckett / Sammy T: It's possible to avoid some of the events entirely depending on Track Progress and PC actions. From what I can tell, however, around the end of the second day there's going to be a quick escalation.. I estimate the party has a maximum 6 investigation phases before the Opposition track begins Encounters 3->4->5 at the end of the second day.

It should be noted with the false rumors being disproved by additional true rumors that you should avoid providing too much of a red herring. While hilarious, the party wasting valuable time trying to track down the Demon/devil- worshiping gathering in the woods after hearing three variation of that rumor is a bit punishing.

@Doug: I plan on driving up the "Public Perception of Pathfinders." It doesn't hurt that there are a few Murder-hobo types in my area that I might name drop.

@Sabre

Spoiler:
Hanged. There's a difference.

5/5 5/55/55/5

@the good twin there

Its in quotes so its technically still grammatically correct writing :)

Silver Crusade 2/5

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

:)

Shadow Lodge

Sammy T wrote:

Not exactly correct, DM Beckett.

"Should the PCs learn all of the true rumors, each additional true
rumor instead debunks one of the false rumors that PCs have already heard. If you roll a false rumor that the PCs have already heard, repeat the rumor with minor changes to the details to cast doubt as to whether or not it might actually be true."

Your right, sorry, I was posting from my phone and trying to get it out quickly as a generalization. I meant more along the lines of it's a lot less intimidating to the DM if they think of it as "when do these events happen, (more step by step)" rather than "if the party does this, that will happen (and how am I going to plan for this all)"

Shadow Lodge

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Running the 9th.
Am making a chart where players can place their minis during each part of the day.

Pre planning some RPing. Arm wrestling in the and knife throwing in the beer garden. Kids playing 'Crusaders and Pathfinders' where the kid 'crusaders' are looking for evil Pathfinders who are 'obviously' in league with demons in the street.

Hope that helps,

Kerney

Shadow Lodge

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Kerney wrote:
Kids playing 'Crusaders and Pathfinders' where the kid 'crusaders' are looking for evil Pathfinders who are 'obviously' in league with demons in the street.

That is one of the most amazing things about PF I have ever heard. I'm so stealing that for my PbP.

The Exchange

Kerney wrote:

Running the 9th.

Am making a chart where players can place their minis during each part of the day.

Pre planning some RPing. Arm wrestling in the and knife throwing in the beer garden. Kids playing 'Crusaders and Pathfinders' where the kid 'crusaders' are looking for evil Pathfinders who are 'obviously' in league with demons in the street.

Hope that helps,

Kerney

I love it, too. I ran this today for a group of GMs. It was difficult to have NPCs remain stubbornly convinced the Pathfinders were guilty in the face of such flimsy evidence. The players had connected most the dots, but the dice failed them at a crucial moment.

I enjoyed the 5th level barbarian with the 21 CON who stood there and allowed the local tough to punch him a half-dozen times for a d3+1 non-lethal, just staring at the kid and not showing the slightest amount of discomfort. "You hit like my grandma". After the kid got tired out throwing haymakers and getting nowhere, he suddenly got embarrassed and walked away.

Without someone to flank with, the rogue was simply annoying. That was the only time we rolled init the entire scenario.

This scenario was better than The Horn of Aroden, in that the plot was more enjoyable for both the GM and the players. It still suffers when exposed to the slightest degree of scrutiny, but it doesn't make the players as angry.

4/5

I love the idea of the timeline you generated Doug.

Generally speaking most of my tables have felt that the evidence is so flimsy as to be laughable.

The rogue NPC was very poorly constructed as a "murderer". Simply giving him Improved Feint would have gone a very long way towards making him better at murdering than a level one fighter with a high strength.

The scenario is very complicated, and I'm not sure why. Additionally, their are numerous mechanical considerations that punish pathfinders for obeying as EVERYTHING ELSE teaches them is how to best handle being pathfinders. This is my personal list of suggestions for how to deal with this.

  • Expose the players to how the mechanics work, tell them upfront that it is OK to split up, and that you're not trying to kill them when you say this*
  • Ignore aid another on the rumor investigation skill checks, if they roll to "aid" ask them their number and instead use that for their own successes, otherwise the mechanics needlessly punish PCs for having multiple PCs in one location.**
  • Preroll your rumors so you know what you'll tell the PCs each time they get one from the true or false rumor list.
  • This is suggested in the module but allow various locations people want to go to investigate in a given phase to exist. e.g. If they go to the tavern (at the hearth and harvest), treat it like the beer garden.
  • Overplay how strongly NPCs react to intimidate and other negative things. Although this can backfire when you have a frustrated investigator decide to make an entire conversation about a touchy subject to someone after they note this reaction.

*:
You may have to make this point a few times that you're really not trying to screw them over by taunting them into splitting the party, no, really, I swear its not a trick…. Damn it why do I have such a lethal reputation….

**:
This was just ill conceived. I understand having multiple PCs you don't want to trivialize the check DCs, but pathfinders are taught to not roll skill checks, especially social ones, when they have little skill in that way. They are taught to use aid another. As written having multiple PCs can only make things harder unless they make their own skill checks, so I ran my table(s) (after the first disastrous one), with that in mind.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

New error found:

Town Sentiment Track on pg 6 indicates that Town Sentiment 10 you begin encounter 2.

Encounter 2 on pg 12 indicates that it occurs when Town Sentiment reaches 6.

(Doing this from my notes, not the PDF, so hopefully I got that right.)

Sovereign Court 5/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I used a couple of the things from the above commenters in today's table. One is the "crusaders vs. pathfinders" idea. I think it does a good job of setting the tone - I also used it to open up Perception vs. Stealth as another contest, sort of a hide-and-go-seek. The other thing I used was the identities of the the people who were murdered.

Repeating what someone else said, do NOT try to run this scenario cold. If you do, you are taking away from what could be a very fun experience by eating up a chronicle play-through for the players. I also recommend against running this scenario if you are uncomfortable improvising as a GM.

Here's what happened at my table:
My group failed some of the initial Diplomacy checks, so they were doing their investigation without knowing any evidence or much detail of the crimes. Later, their failure on their only attempt to get the Sheriff to talk made them decide that breaking into the Sheriff's home to speak to the prisoners was a good idea. The Sheriff heard the intruder in the middle of the night, and it advanced the track quickly in both the town's sentiment and the opposition track.

They had alienated so many people that they were getting desperate.

This culmination of events made a lot of things start happening quickly. As the trap in Encounter 4 began, Encounter 5 also began with a mob forming within rounds of the cries of "murder" from Krunne. Despite his cries for help, they continued to attack and nearly dropped him before he was able to get out of the house with the Luin and Ekira at the front door.

Their bad luck with Diplomacy turned around, and they imagined to convince Luin and Ekira that someone was secretly sowing chaos in the town. If not for that, I think they'd have been jailed and failed completely.

Shadow Lodge

Some of my issues with this scenario:

1.) it expects the PC's to split the party without actually telling the players "hey split the party and make everyone else wait while the DM deals with individuals multiple times".
2.) it's pretty flimsy all around
3.) it lacks any initial questions and answers to get players interested
4.) it lacks a lot of the normal Know checks for extra background and fluff info
5.) a single player with a decent Diplomacy (+4ish) can basically solo the entire scenario, (and in all honesty is likely to do better than a party that's in some ways just a making things harder)
6.) So if the party gets captures, a 3rd PF squad comes in to save the day. Wait, wait, wait, you have 6 days from the start, and 3 of those are taken up in travel. So said 3rd squad would have had to leave pretty much right after the party did, (which means they have no evidence whatsoever on what the party did, much less the 1st PF squad, but they also somehow just fix everything like that. Why the heck didn't VC DUMBASS (yah, that's your new name henceforth) just send them in, in the first place? Thanks for going showing just how little the player's efforts matter while you're at it.
7.) why is there a fair in a town that normally has a population of under 100 people AND IS APPROX 3 DAYS TRAVEL FROM A MAJOR TOWN THAT JUST GOT MASSACRED BY THE HORDES OF THE WORLDWOUND WEEKS TO MONTHS AGO?
8.) could really have been put anywhere, but Mendev honestly seems the least likely candidate, and it really just doesn't come off as Mendev at all, (in my opinion)
9.) PLOT overrides everything else
10.) it calls out that class features and abilities autofail, because plot (RED FLAG!!!)
11.) leaves a lot of fairly obvious "if the players as this" sort of things completely unanswered.
12.) Oh wait, this was supposed to be a major Silver Crusade thing wasn't it? (chronicle sheet kind of makes up for that utter failure)
13.) exactly how many Atonements PER DAY are required for PLOT to continue? (is that before or after the players arrive, is there anyone in a town of less than 100 that can cast that, or are we hand-waving again?)

All I got off the top of my head that hasn't already been mentioned.

Sovereign Court 5/5

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Ran this twice over the weekend, and adding to the good notes already in this thread.

This cannot be overstated for this scenario: DO NOT RUN THIS COLD.

Details you will want to understand for yourself that are not provided in the scenario:

*who the victims are* - good info above, I stole it directly for my games
*more detail around the death of the second victim* - just stabbed or something more grisly? It did get interrupted and there is rumor info - but there is still not enough detail
*more detail on the legal process* - by default the players at my tables (all Americans) have presumed certain things about how a trial is supposed to go. I had to make up details on the fly about how things went down - did they have legal representation? what was the burden of proof on the prosecution? who decided the case? who has the legal authority to prosecute/present evidence/etc? what sort of jurisdiction does the inquisitor have in this matter? in future legal matters (if the PCs get arrested)?

The evidence against the Pathfinders is flimsy at best. For an audience used to CSI, innocent until proven guilty, etc, it doesn't stand up in the slightest. GMs will need to frame the legal environment to help them understand how an anonymous note of accusation counts as 'evidence'.

*Where Ekira is staying and what she is doing when she is not in a specified encounter. Same thing for the Mayor.* The PCs are going to try to 'look these people up' and not in accordance with the script of the adventure.

*More clues/red herrings about Krunne. It doesn't take the party too long to figure out that someone else is involved here, so they naturally start trying to track him down. Aside from one true rumor and the specified encounters for when things heat up, Krunne has been in town for a month with no trace. Obviously, it doesn't work for the PCs to find him ahead of schedule, but there should be a few observations, hints or at least suggestions of his presence if they follow up on him specifically.

*More townsfolk. I am not criticizing the author here - page limits are page limits, but as this plays out with heavy investigation, the world wants more people. Have names and/or personas for the innkeep, other merchants, interesting personalities, etc. Otherwise the town feels very empty. Don't get too crazy with it though - the adventure may run long as it is, if the PCs start chasing red herrings about the guy with the crooked nose who gave them rumor #4 you'll never finish playing this.

Sovereign Court 5/5 5/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Kristie Schweyer wrote:
...

I think this reinforces my thinking about improvisation skills to make this scenario good. I'm upping my earlier statement to be that if you can't improvise well, you shouldn't try to run the scenario.

Good GM improvisation means many things:

  • making up information on the fly that makes sense with the plot
  • recognizing when the PCs do or say something "close enough" to what was expected to trigger an event
  • creating NPCs or adding personalities that seem like they are part of the scenario
  • knowing some GM tricks to make improvising easier

One of the keys to improvising as a GM is listening to the players and using "yes, and" for their ideas. "Yes, and" is an improvisation trick where instead of negating the person who just spoke, you build on top of their idea. So if one of the PCs suggests that maybe Scenario X is what happened, try to make Scenario X the reality within the framework of the written scenario.

The reasoning is that "No" or "But" kills the story's progression and should be avoided as much as possible.

Player: "Maybe she's actually a demon pretending to hear the voice of Iomedae."
GM: "Yes, and there's even a rumor you've heard that she's actually a succubus."

Player: "The second victim had a family, I want to try to find them."
GM: "Great, you can roll a Diplomacy to gather information to see if you can find them."
... after successful roll and going to visit them ...
Player: "I am really sorry for your loss, ma'am, but I have to admit that I'm not sure that the Pathfinders are the ones who killed your husband."
GM: "Why does this matter to me? My husband is dead, whether he was killed by a demon, a bandit, or a group of scheming Pathfinders, he's still dead."

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

I did a several hours of prep work and notes, and I was still tripped by several details running this.

1) The Pathfinders are accused of two murders; both my husband and I missed that when we prepped the scenario.

2) There is no information on the victims, and that's a piece that players are going to try to investigate.

3) What's the name of the third Pathfinder? Corwin Burke (race=?), Dakota Spire (race=dwarf), and ??

4) It's not clear whether the evidence for the prosecution is actually correct. For example, the prosecution says the Pathfinders were seen at the farm several hours before the murders, but there's no indication why they there or who saw them, and the Pathfinders don't provide any more information in the interview. Also, it's not clear whether the dagger at the second murder actually belonged to Dakota Spire ("it fits in the sheath"), and the interview doesn't say whether Dakota Spire admitted owning it, noticed it was missing, etc. I went with "Yes, it was mine" and "I didn't notice it was gone until they arrested us."

5) The timeline for the fall of the Kenabres is confused. That was during the Third Crusade, but Ekira was around for it. Later, it says Tobias fought in the Fourth Crusade 15 years ago, which would make the Third Crusade more than 15 years old. I'll go through the Inner Sea Guide and see if I can get a firmer handle on this.

6) The letters to VC Jorsal get confused. In the briefing, he hands the PCs a letter saying there is a ruin to investigate. Later, the scenario refers to the letter informing Jorsal that the Pathfinders would be executed. I went with the briefing version and assumed Tobias informed Jorsal of the impending execution. (Neither of these letters is provided as a handout, nor is the anonymous letter accusing the Pathfinders. I'll try to mock up handouts for these this week.)

7) Jorsal provides the PCs with mounts, but there's no livery stable in town. I added one next to the inn.

8) We are told that Ekira has strayed from the teachings of Iomedae, but we don't have specifics on what she is doing wrong or what the correct version of those teachings is.

9) The text says that Tobias is "soft" and implies that he doesn't want to execute the Pathfinders, but one of the true rumors says he wants to see them hang. I made that rumor about Ekira instead of Tobias.

10) I wasn't sure whether the town size spending limit should be based on the Dawnton's normal size or its current size.

Overall though, it was a lot of fun, and I had a really good group when I ran it.

My group's tactics:
My group threw scenario completely off the rails. One PC was an inquisitor of Damirak, Empyreal Lord of lawful executions, and actually had "Profession (Executioner)." He offered his services to the mayor to perform the execution, then couched any investigation as "I just have to double check, because my god demands that I verify everything is in order before I kill them." He told Ekira that he was really happy to see her involved in the case, because her training gave him a lot of confidence that the case was handled correctly.

The rest of the PCs, meanwhile, took the tactic of "We were in the area and heard you were going to have an execution. We love a good execution!" Since there were already a bunch of "execution tourists" in town, the PCs didn't stand out much. Any time they talked to someone about the execution, they were downright eager ("We want to make sure we get good seats!" and "If they behead them, we'll need to get tarps for the splash zone."). Questions about the Pathfinders guilt were couched as concern that the execution might not take place. One of the PCs was a tiefling with a hat of disguise, and he (quite coincidently) felt like changing his appearance at each location.

They actually got a lot of the evidence before they hit 5 on the opposition track, and they went looking for Dalton before he started asking around about them.

Like I said, completely off the rails.

Shadow Lodge

DM Beckett wrote:


4.) it lacks a lot of the normal Know checks for extra background and fluff info

You're mistaken. I don't really know what else to say, there is a knowledge(local)/gather information check to learn about Dawnton and the surrounding area.

DM Beckett wrote:

Some of my issues with this scenario:

8.) could really have been put anywhere, but Mendev honestly seems the least likely candidate, and it really just doesn't come off as Mendev at all, (in my opinion)

I actually think Mendev is the only place you could have it. The religious fanaticism and paranoia are 100% Mendev.

DM Beckett wrote:

Some of my issues with this scenario:

10.) it calls out that class features and abilities autofail, because plot (RED FLAG!!!)

I've seen someone else say this, and it's just plain wrong.

As a non-cleric and non-outsider, Dalton's aura is too weak for Detect Alignment to work. Look it up, that's how the spell works.

Augery only answers questions in a vague way, and even then it doesn't work reliably, which means it's not admissible evidence. Once again, that's just how the spell works.

To quote the description of Zone of Truth: "(targets) may be evasive as long as they remain within the boundaries of the truth." Exactly how the scenario presented it.

The sidebar is NOT adjusting how any of the spells work for purposes of the plot, it's giving GMs an idea of how to react if players start chucking divination spells around.

The Exchange

DM Beckett wrote:


7.) why is there a fair in a town that normally has a population of under 100 people AND IS APPROX 3 DAYS TRAVEL FROM A MAJOR TOWN THAT JUST GOT MASSACRED BY THE HORDES OF THE WORLDWOUND WEEKS TO MONTHS AGO?

This question has to be ignored because it undermines the entire scenario if you think about it too much. So, prior to Ekira and Dalton arriving in Dawnton, the highest level NPC was the sheriff who couldn't even fend off a dretch. Really. And what about Otto's Farm? The guy lives alone 5 miles away from town and he owns a sling for defense. Doesn't even have a dog?! Maybe if he had a dog people wouldn't hang skinned corpses on his trees. Anyway, great question Beckett. Hopefully the players never raise it.

The next time that I run this I think I'll run the entire scenario without dice until Encounter 4. We'll just role-play through everything. Several times during the scenario I felt like it was forcing me to pound square pegs into round holes. By removing the arbitrary DCs and NPC attitudes I think the scenario will feel more organic and enjoyable.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Ran this last night. From briefing to me walking out the door, it ran 3 1/2 hours.

Spoiler:
Party:
L5 Rogue
L4 Cleric of Saranrae
L4 Zen Archer
L4 Rogue Pre-Gen (forgot personal L4 Rogue at home)
L2 Fighter/Paladin of Abadar

Briefing:
Adjustment: Jorsal took a moment to lay out the mindset of the populace. "They live next to the Worldwound, Nerosyan was recently attacked and demons roam the countryside...they are afraid. It is easier to judge someone guilty than prove them innocent."

Adjustment: Although not explicitly called out, I made sure Jorsal handed them the letter so they could refer to it later.

Investigation Prep:
I simply brought 4x6 index cards and jotted down the names of the main locations (Tent City, Inn, etc.) I made clear that these were not the only locations they could visit, but simply the most obvious upon their arrival. I left a stack of blank cards on the table for them to name other locations they'd like to visit during the course of their investigations. When PCs investigated, they would simply put their mini on the note card of the location they were at.

Day 3:
I took a moment as GM and explained that it would be in their best interests to split up into teams to cover more ground. Once or twice, I really had to convince to split up and/or NOT assist (since it's better for each PC to individually roll during investigation).

Upon arrival, some folks went and visited the accused. They easily turned the Sheriff helpful and got the basics of the evidence (and quickly realized the handwriting samples were the same). Others hit up the town and got the basic rumors.

Day 4:
Adjustment: Instead of waiting until after the phase one to roll to reduce the first town sentiment track progression (which is mechanically weird), I had them roll at the beginning of each day.

At the end of the day, they had a bunch of conflicting rumors, but had gotten much of the basics. At the end of the night, one of the rogues almost broke into Ekira's room at the inn, but thought better of it.

Day 5:
This blends together as many things hit the fan at once. The PCs, whose town sentiment track had been ridiculously low, started using intimidate. Also, the Opposition track started kicking in which fed into the party using intimidate. Pretty much in short order, they hit all the encounters, culminating with Encounter 4/5 at the end of the night.

Dalton got off one sneak attack by climbing outside the house and sneaking up from behind before being non-lethally pummeled into submission. The PCs convinced both Luin and Ekira of their innocence, leading Dalton to attack with Torvil's assistance. One of the PCs heard the invisible Torvil and the party agreed to eat a Glitterdust so no innocents would get hit but the invisible creature would be revealed. So, naturally, 3 of the 5 PCs failed their save vs blindness. They quickly recovered and defeated Dalton but Tovril squirmed into the crowd, turned invisible and escaped.

The cleric and paladin easily showed Ekira the error of her ways, putting a button on the the end of the night.

'Offbook' investigation locations:
Some PCs decided to visit Daniel's Farm (Daniel = skinned victim from Otto's farm). To make it a viable rumor site, I simply had some pilgrims/mourners out front praying for the recently departed Daniel that chatted with the investigating PCs.

Other PCs also chose to visit the site of other murder victim (a bard on his way to Dawnton that was killed by the side of the road). At this point, the PCs had villagers escorting/watching them constantly, so had the PCs succeeded on an interaction roll, I would have let their escorts slip with some rumor info--but the PCs were at -4 for interactions and failed their rolls.

The party almost decided to go looking for Devil Circles in the woods, but a 'lucky' true rumor roll debunked that notion ;)

'Offbook' skill use:
The pre-gen Rogue used acrobatics to entertain the tent city crowds and make friends (and advancing opposition track).

The Zen Archer held an archery contest with 20 cold iron arrows as the prize. He easily won the contest...but still gave the arrows away, earning him admiration and friends (and advancing opposition track).

Fun facts:
3 of the PCs got haircuts at Orug's barbershop.

Am initiative wasn't rolled until Encounter 4 2 1/2 hours into the scenario.

Post Game:
The players really enjoyed the scenario, even if at times as a GM I had to bend logic to make the scenario work/be less confusing.

With the amount of GM feedback and workarounds in the thread, it feels like this scenario needs one more pass before it is truly finished.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Not elegant whatsoever but here is my my hacked together cheatsheat.

The Exchange

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You need to check out the GM Shared Prep site. Carlos did a great job with the scenario mechanics. If you're not using this site, you are making a lot of unnecessary work for yourself. There's some garbage on there, but there's a half dozen people who really know their stuff and post some gems.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Doug, I am aware of the site. However, sometimes the only way to learn something is to work through it yourself versus using someone else's notes ;)

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Nashville aka Wolfspirit

That sheet looks like a nicer version of what I was working on. Well done.

One question though, is there a precedent for conflicting information (such as the discrepancy for visiting the prisoners?) In 3.5 I always assumed that the text trumped tables. Should this apply? If so, the Visiting Prisoners should be +1 adjustment.

Dark Archive 5/5

Played the pregen rogue as I forgot to bring my binder with all my pcs. Just got a tablet so I better send them to it asap.
Sammy did a great job playing up the npcs and townsfolk. Also the fact we had a non murder hobo group of experienced players contributed to a fun game.
I had a chance to break into ekiras room but did not.

While these type of scenarios can be a good change of pace, there needs to be extra attn. placed on all the steps required to bring it to print. This scenario is still in its first rough draft state.

The Exchange

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I'm working on the 3rd letter, but wanted to post this for critique:

Jorsal of Lauterbury at the Starrise Spire:
Greetings! While on an urgent errand I passed through a backwater thorp called Dawnton. By chance I met a farmer who was showing off a strange stone idol he claimed to have found on his property. Like many in your organization I have an interest in history and forgotten lore. Several features of this relic led me to believe it represented Pulura, an empyreal lord venerated ages ago in these parts. When I asked the man where he found it, he said that he had uncovered it while digging a root cellar into a hillside on his property. He mentioned there were larger pieces of worked stone there, too heavy to move in their current state but covered in strange writing. It distresses me to think about this simple farmer breaking up pieces of Sarkorian history to build a fieldstone wall. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I must not linger here in Mendev. I thought you might be able to investigate this matter—hopefully before the site is despoiled. I prefer to remain anonymous at this time. Again, the situation is complicated. Perhaps my loss will be your gain?
My regards, -A Traveler

Pathfinders of Nerosyan,
I pray to The Dawnflower that this missive finds you before all hope is lost. Today is the 14th day of Erastus. A party of Pathfinders arrived in Dawnton two days ago. Last night they were placed under arrest. They have been charged and convicted of committing two heinous murders, and sentenced to hang at dawn twelve days hence. Tensions are high since the fall of Kenabres. Although my conscience moves my hand to scribe this note, but I fear too much to share my identity. Come fast if you would save your friends!

Shadow Lodge

Disk Elemental wrote:
DM Beckett wrote:


4.) it lacks a lot of the normal Know checks for extra background and fluff info

You're mistaken. I don't really know what else to say, there is a knowledge(local)/gather information check to learn about Dawnton and the surrounding area.

Yes, and that's it.

DM Beckett wrote:

Some of my issues with this scenario:

8.) could really have been put anywhere, but Mendev honestly seems the least likely candidate, and it really just doesn't come off as Mendev at all, (in my opinion)

I actually think Mendev is the only place you could have it. The religious fanaticism and paranoia are 100% Mendev.

DM Beckett wrote:

Some of my issues with this scenario:

10.) it calls out that class features and abilities autofail, because plot (RED FLAG!!!)

I've seen someone else say this, and it's just plain wrong.

As a non-cleric and non-outsider, Dalton's aura is too weak for Detect Alignment to work. Look it up, that's how the spell works.

Augery only answers questions in a vague way, and even then it doesn't work reliably, which means it's not admissible evidence. Once again, that's just how the spell works.

To quote the description of Zone of Truth: "(targets) may be evasive as long as they remain within the boundaries of the truth." Exactly how the scenario presented it.

The sidebar is NOT adjusting how any of the spells work for purposes of the plot, it's giving GMs an idea of how to react if players start chucking divination spells around.

Yes, I knew that. I think you missed the point, which was that it is written to deprive players of their abilities in favor of making the plot work. Instead of presenting opportunities for players to use these abilities in cool ways (which yes, we as DMs can do), it focuses on making sure that these things cant help. He just knows that he was hit with a Zone of Truth and avoids allowing it to work because he's cool and evil and stuff. Friendly little pet is nowhere to be found, ever, and leaves no lingering aura.

Grand Lodge 4/5

His pet is always invisible, often with Erika, and isn't nearly strong enough to leave a lingering aura.

And the sidebar isn't a "Hey, these don't work because" thing. It's more like "Hey, here are some common abilities that sound like they'd quickly solve everything, but wouldn't actually work if you think about it."

DM Beckett wrote:
He just knows that he was hit with a Zone of Truth and avoids allowing it to work because he's cool and evil and stuff.

You mean like the Zone of Truth spell explicitly says it does?

Zone of Truth wrote:
Affected creatures are aware of this enchantment. Therefore, they may avoid answering questions to which they would normally respond with a lie, or they may be evasive as long as they remain within the boundaries of the truth.

And just because you can't get the badguy to confess under the spell doesn't mean it's not useful. You just have to be a bit more creative with it.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

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Doug,
The letters are really good. I have a couple of suggestions in bold. (I can work on getting them into graphic format this weekend--work exploded in my face this week.)

Doug Miles wrote:

I'm working on the 3rd letter, but wanted to post this for critique:

Jorsal of Lauterbury at the Starrise Spire:
Greetings! While on an urgent errand I passed through a backwater thorp called Dawnton. By chance I met a farmer named Omar who was showing off a strange stone idol he claimed to have found on his property. Like many in your organization I have an interest in history and forgotten lore. Several features of this relic led me to believe it represented Pulura, an empyreal lord venerated ages ago in these parts. When I asked the man where he found it, he said that he had uncovered it while digging a root cellar into a hillside on his property. He mentioned there were larger pieces of worked stone there, too heavy to move in their current state but covered in strange writing. It distresses me to think about this simple farmer breaking up pieces of Sarkorian history to build a fieldstone wall. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I must not linger here in Mendev. I thought you might be able to investigate this matter—hopefully before the site is despoiled. I prefer to remain anonymous at this time. Again, the situation is complicated. Perhaps my loss will be your gain?
My regards, -A Traveler

Pathfinders of Nerosyan,
I pray to The Dawnflower that this missive finds you before all hope is lost. Today is the 14th day of Erastus. A party of Pathfinders arrived in Dawnton two days ago. Last night they were placed under arrest for committing two heinous murders. They have already been convicted and are sentenced to hang at dawn twelve days hence. Tensions are high since the fall of Kenabres, and I believe their trial was rushed and the verdict is unjust. Although my conscience moves my hand to scribe this note, I fear too much to share my identity. Come fast if you would save your friends!

In the second note, I wanted to include the idea that the writer believed they were innocent, both to encourage Jorsal to send the team and to make the handwriting comparison more compelling evidence for the defense.

What do you think?

Shadow Lodge 4/5

I would forgo using or handing out the 'lure' letter Jorsal hands out.

Why?

While flavorful, it is chockful of red herrings. Omar. Pulura. (Another) farm. In a scenario full of false rumors, there is absolutely no need to confuse the investigations any further.

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Doug Miles wrote:

I'm working on the 3rd letter, but wanted to post this for critique:

Jorsal of Lauterbury at the Starrise Spire:
Greetings! While on an urgent errand I passed through a backwater thorp called Dawnton. By chance I met a farmer who was showing off a strange stone idol he claimed to have found on his property. Like many in your organization I have an interest in history and forgotten lore. Several features of this relic led me to believe it represented Pulura, an empyreal lord venerated ages ago in these parts. When I asked the man where he found it, he said that he had uncovered it while digging a root cellar into a hillside on his property. He mentioned there were larger pieces of worked stone there, too heavy to move in their current state but covered in strange writing. It distresses me to think about this simple farmer breaking up pieces of Sarkorian history to build a fieldstone wall. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I must not linger here in Mendev. I thought you might be able to investigate this matter—hopefully before the site is despoiled. I prefer to remain anonymous at this time. Again, the situation is complicated. Perhaps my loss will be your gain?
My regards, -A Traveler

Pathfinders of Nerosyan,
I pray to The Dawnflower that this missive finds you before all hope is lost. Today is the 14th day of Erastus. A party of Pathfinders arrived in Dawnton two days ago. Last night they were placed under arrest. They have been charged and convicted of committing two heinous murders, and sentenced to hang at dawn twelve days hence. Tensions are high since the fall of Kenabres. Although my conscience moves my hand to scribe this note, but I fear too much to share my identity. Come fast if you would save your friends!

Inquisitor, I know who killed Dancel and Johan. Two nights ago I was on the north road when I heard such a frightful noise that I dove in the ditch to hide myself. Soon after I heard strangely accented voices speaking of ‘completing a ritual’, needing ‘more flesh of innocents’ and that ‘the stars will not wait’. From my concealment I witnessed two dwarves and a halfling pass going north, away from Dawnton. They were covered in blood and the dwarves carried a large bundle between them wrapped in canvas. I thought them hunters until I heard what happened to Dancel yesterday. Like other decent folk here I try to keep my nose out of other peoples’ business. I needed to be certain before I leveled an accusation. When I found out those three were Pathfinders, I became even more fearful. That nefarious organization has a far reach and those who cross them always weep bitter tears. By happenstance I again came across the three of them in the village last night, just after word of the second murder. They were at the Heath & Harvest. The halfling appeared angry and the dwarves anxious. Considering the mood in the common room, this behavior did not seem amiss. However, I knew they were the ones behind the killing. I listened in as the dwarves asked around if anyone had seen who committed the murder. People said that Oleg didn't get a good look at the guy. They all seemed to relax. I heard the halfling say that they'll 'try again tomorrow'! As I write this I know my life may be forfeit if I make my knowledge public. By The Inheritor, these Pathfinders must not be allowed to get away with another murder! I know you have the courage to stand up for Dawnton. Please protect our village!

-A Concerned Citizen

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

I am prepping this for tomorrow night.

Questions as I go:

What happens if the players use a forced march to get to Dawnton, can they buy themselves an extra day? What happens if they work through the night, can they get themselves an extra investigation phase that way? (At the cost of some fatigue?)

Sovereign Court 5/5

FLite wrote:

I am prepping this for tomorrow night.

Questions as I go:

What happens if the players use a forced march to get to Dawnton, can they buy themselves an extra day? What happens if they work through the night, can they get themselves an extra investigation phase that way? (At the cost of some fatigue?)

I made it clear that it would be very difficult to investigate overnight - in terms of hearing rumors etc., but I did allow them to skulk around and check things out if they didn't mind fatigue. One party used that opportunity to scout the mayors house and attempt to contact the prisoners, the other group opted to sleep.

If they insist on investigating - trying to harangue one or two drunks at the beer garden, for instance, or create some other nighttime disturbance I would probably bump them up on the town sentiment track. In Mendev, bad things happen at night and only bad or desperate people go around making trouble at all hours.


The PC's are able to make a bluff / stealth / disguise check to avoid advancing the town track, but there are thousands of new people in town from out of town, shouldn't they get a similar check to slow down the opposition track?

Maybe something like if more than half of them make the check, they slow the town track down by one, if they *all* make it they slow the opposition track down by one.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka The Great Rinaldo!

White Hat Gamers wrote:

The PC's are able to make a bluff / stealth / disguise check to avoid advancing the town track, but there are thousands of new people in town from out of town, shouldn't they get a similar check to slow down the opposition track?

Maybe something like if more than half of them make the check, they slow the town track down by one, if they *all* make it they slow the opposition track down by one.

While an interesting idea, it would require changing the scenario, which is unlikely to happen. Once it's published, it's as written unless a clear typo or editing error is found.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

Given the fact that missing stuff so often gets blamed on word count limits, I am fairly peeved by the repeated paragraph in encounter 4.

Anyway,

in encounter 4,

Spoiler:
Dalton tries to set a trap by sending the PCs a letter.

What happens if

Spoiler:
The PCs take the letter to the sherrif and ask him to accompany them to rescue the person in the letter?

It was my first thought when I saw the letter.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Dorothy Lindman wrote:


5) The timeline for the fall of the Kenabres is confused. That was during the Third Crusade, but Ekira was around for it. Later, it says Tobias fought in the Fourth Crusade 15 years ago, which would make the Third Crusade more than 15 years old. I'll go through the Inner Sea Guide and see if I can get a firmer handle on this.

I believe this is actually referring to an "off the hand" note during Siege of the Diamond City. When the wardstones fall, Jorsal gives a briefing and mentions something about something happening at Kenebres.

So I don't believe this is something that happened 15 or even 30 years ago, but rather about this time last year.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

FLite wrote:

Given the fact that missing stuff so often gets blamed on word count limits, I am fairly peeved by the repeated paragraph in encounter 4.

Anyway,

in encounter 4, ** spoiler omitted **

What happens if ** spoiler omitted **

It was my first thought when I saw the letter.

When we tried to do this, our GM had is trigger the final encounter.

My wife ran this on Sunday here in MN, and she mentioned that if they try to present the evidence, that triggers the final encounter, regardless when they do so.

So basically, don't go back to the Sherrif with any information. Don't go back to him at all unless you want to ask more questions.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

Andrew Christian wrote:
Dorothy Lindman wrote:


5) The timeline for the fall of the Kenabres is confused. That was during the Third Crusade, but Ekira was around for it. Later, it says Tobias fought in the Fourth Crusade 15 years ago, which would make the Third Crusade more than 15 years old. I'll go through the Inner Sea Guide and see if I can get a firmer handle on this.

I believe this is actually referring to an "off the hand" note during Siege of the Diamond City. When the wardstones fall, Jorsal gives a briefing and mentions something about something happening at Kenebres.

So I don't believe this is something that happened 15 or even 30 years ago, but rather about this time last year.

As far as I can tell, Kenabres fell at the start of the fourth crusade, 22 years ago. (It's fall forms the start of the wrath of the righteous adventure path.)

The fourth crusade ended about 7 years ago.

I think that Kenabres fell *again* this last year. (Ekira's background talks about it happening after a whole bunch of pathfinders came to the worldwound looking for a sky citadel.) I think that during Traitors Lodge

Spoiler:
Jorsul is away from the city to check out the wreckage of Kenebres.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

Do the PC's know when they have exhausted a location?

Shadow Lodge

Jeff Merola wrote:
His pet is always invisible, often with Erika, and isn't nearly strong enough to leave a lingering aura.

It's (at minimum) a 4HD doubly aligned Outsider and Cleric, so it would actually leave a Lingering Aura (if destroyed or teleporting away). I was simply meaning an aura hanging around that seems to come from nothing besides either Ekira, the voice she hears, some random stranger in town, or randomly floating around. Invisible or not, Evil/Chaos would still be detected, which should be A.) a dead give away that the voice is not Iomedae (to Ekira that can use it at will) and that something is very, very wrong (to anyone else).

DM Beckett wrote:
He just knows that he was hit with a Zone of Truth and avoids allowing it to work because he's cool and evil and stuff.

You mean like the Zone of Truth spell explicitly says it does?

Ok, my mistake on that one. Still not convinced it's a good idea, (the Hey DM, don't let players do this Side Note), but ok, agree to disagree.

Grand Lodge 4/5

I just checked the description of Detect Evil. The lingering aura only occurs if the creature is destroyed. And that can only happen in the final act of the scenario, so no lingering auras there.

As for her not detecting him, that's as simple of a matter him staying behind Erika at all times. If he's not in her vision, she can't Detect him. She'd also need to have a reason to detect him, which she doesn't have so far, as she's too far into her own delusions to really think about what she's doing. (The question, of course, is how the heck is she still LG and an inquisitor with what she's doing?)

Silver Crusade 2/5

Kenabres didn't fall in the 4th Crusade. There was a big fight there, and the Storm King damaged the Wardstone. It did fall at the beginning of the 5th crusade, at the same time as Siege of the Diamond City is set. The events are the setting for the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path.

Shadow Lodge

Jeff Merola wrote:
I just checked the description of Detect Evil. The lingering aura only occurs if the creature is destroyed. And that can only happen in the final act of the scenario, so no lingering auras there.

That is correct. when I had originally said it, I meant a lingering aura <unseen floating evil that keeps pinging> rather than a Lingering Aura <game term>, (above). I find it hard to believe that not a single person, particularly out of the extra 3,000 people all focusing on Ekira, can detect evil/chaos, or the Ekira, whose primary goal in life I to destroy chaotic evil outsiders that worship demons and come from the Abyssal Worldwound, (well when she's not killing Pathfinders anyway), doesn't bother to, I don't know, look for such creature in town for the last few weeks.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Um, the highest leveled person in town that's not evil is the mayor. There are no paladins or inquisitors or anyone else who gets Detect Evil in that town.

And Ekira's thing is that she's so consumed by her desire for revenge that she's not thinking clearly.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

Sammy T wrote:

I would forgo using or handing out the 'lure' letter Jorsal hands out.

Why?

While flavorful, it is chockful of red herrings. Omar. Pulura. (Another) farm. In a scenario full of false rumors, there is absolutely no need to confuse the investigations any further.

D'oh! That's what I get for answering message boards at work.

Omar should be Otto--that's intended to tie the original Pathfinder team to Otto's farm, the scene of the first murder.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Nashville aka Wolfspirit

FLite wrote:


What happens if the players use a forced march to get to Dawnton, can they buy themselves an extra day? What happens if they work through the night, can they get themselves an extra investigation phase that way? (At the cost of some fatigue?)

As written, trying to get a partial day of investigation actually advance the Opposition Track faster. The way the Tracks work, you only really get two days before the torches and pitchforks start coming out.

Quote:


Do the PC's know when they have exhausted a location?

Not really, though if might be appropriate to give them a nudge of "I already told your friend over there..." that they should move on.

White Hat Gamers wrote:


Maybe something like if more than half of them make the check, they slow the town track down by one, if they *all* make it they slow the opposition track down by one.

Unfortunately that wouldn't be running the module as written. Also, I'm pretty sure it's intentional that unless the Party is acting inappropriately (using intimidate, etc) the Opposition Track should move faster than the Town Sentiment Track

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