Suggestions for shackled city restart


Shackled City Adventure Path


About 3 years ago a campaign I was playing in fell apart for a variety of non game reasons. We had played shackled city up to about the battle in the town where the masons are. Anyway I would like to run it now with some of the same players, starting from the beginning but I am happy to make some changes so the people who went through it don't get bored ( although to be fair the secret plot was still pretty much a secret).

Any suggestions for tweaks to the early parts to make it replayable ?


Werecorpse wrote:

About 3 years ago a campaign I was playing in fell apart for a variety of non game reasons. We had played shackled city up to about the battle in the town where the masons are. Anyway I would like to run it now with some of the same players, starting from the beginning but I am happy to make some changes so the people who went through it don't get bored ( although to be fair the secret plot was still pretty much a secret).

Any suggestions for tweaks to the early parts to make it replayable ?

If it's been three years, how much do they remember?

Otherwise, I guess you could move some of the items and baddies around so the group doesn't think "okay, behind this door there will be three goblins so we'll need to ...."

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Let them play other things that happen in and around Cauldron. "Drakthar's Way", the adventure from the hardcover is a possibility, if you've run the path from the magazines. You can also try to follow up with the regular raids on the caravans. You can start with "Thieves in the Forest" from Atlas Games to introduce the raiding theme. You can also try to incorporate the Underdark from the drow side as they are the main recipients from the Malachite Fortress. They can also try to seal the entrance to the Underdark from the Malachite Fortress (a task normally for the Stormblades). Try to step up the rivalry to the old group and the Stormblades, so that your group can step into the breach, once you reach the point of the old campaign. The Flood Festival and the (enhanced) Demonskar Ball are also very important though. Perhaps the vice Lord Mayor takes a liking to this group and gives them some harder tasks. One important thing though is, that the new players are on the same page with the happenings from the older group through some newspaper clips, that they are on board with the main storyline (perhaps you can task one of the old player with this). Make sure the growing unrest of the Cauldron's denizens and "righteous" actions of the Lord Mayor (and his right hand) are understandable. (btw Lord Orbius hired the mercenaries to raid the caravans to bolster his own ambitions and to facilitate the growing mercenary population in the city).

Questions:
What happened with the different folks from Jzadirune?
Is there a possible Follow up with a new group of raiders, mercenaries?
Perhaps something about to the Maggic Detection Agency?
Did you use foreshadowing dreams with pictures from Occipitus and Adimarchus?
Did you use the "traits" from the Shackled City HC? If not, do it now!
Try to include lots of other Cagewrights in your new story.
If you didn't use the Striders of Farlaghn before, use them now!


Some story threads I used for my 2nd and 3rd iterations of SCAP:

I re-wrote Drakthar's Way so that Polk D. Thar (Drak Thar) was a vampire spawn of Mahd (Lords of Oblivion), whom was smuggled into Cauldron in her coffin on a caravan the party was guarding. Made for interesting role play for the 1/2 Orc whom became a regular feeding stop for Drakthar.

Mahd was initially a guest of Thifirane. Thifirane regularly hosted a "fun day away" for the children of the orphanages in order to allow Mahd to feed. The children all started exhibiting symptoms of light sensitivity, nausea, soreness in joints, weakness, etc. All signs of a viral infection (or a vampire feeding on but not killing its victims)

I also used Paizo's Dawn of the Scarlet Sun module. Instead of Shax, I wrote the succubus as a follower of Adimarchus and developed a demonic unholy symbol which she carried in common with the members of the Cagewrights.


It sounds like you had just started Demonskar Legacy. If that's true then you had only gotten about 20-25% through the AP (depending on whether you ran Drakthar's Way from the Hardcover or not). Three years is a long time for some people, and they might not remember much anyway.

What's important to consider is how your players like to play. The most important aspect is how much they like to be surprised. I think you should ask them ahead of time what they would like. Do they want to run the AP exactly as before or do they want to be surprised by some fresh ideas? They might be perfectly happy just running through the dungeons again (the AP is full of dungeons with lots of hack n' slash goodness). At the same time there is also a lot of really cool story which might be enjoyed from different angles.

If your players want to focus on the dungeon aspect but expect some new and exciting things or have particularly good memories, then straight-up change the dungeons but keep the story intact. Since the first 3-4 chapters are basically just dungeon crawls with a story quite separated from the dungeons themselves you can pick 3-4 appropriately leveled adventure modules and substitute the dungeons nearly wholesale unless you want to design them yourself. In Life's Bazaar all you need to keep is the missing children and the dungeon slaver encounter where the beholder takes Terrem. Drakthar's Way is entirely unnecessary anyway. It's essentially a side-quest to give the PCs more loot and XP before Flood Season. In Flood Season the PCs battle a cult that never even appears again. The only detail you need to keep here is that the cult of whatever dungeon you use made one of the thirteen cages for the tree of shackled souls. And finally, for Zenith Trajectory you just need a dungeon where Zenith is trapped. And there you are at Demonskar Legacy right where you left off. You can even call the dungeons the same thing. In My SCAP my players never remembered much of the early dungeons anyway aside from Jzadirune. The truth is a lot of these dungeons are pretty generic in the sense that they could be plopped into just about any story with a few details changed. Bear in mind these adventures were written originally for Dungeon Magazine in installments with the assumption that some people were running them as one-shots.

If your players have more of a storyteller mindset, well then the SCAP hardcover provides so much to create memorable roleplaying encounters. You have the chance to play-up all sorts of elements that you likely missed the first time around. Cauldron is exhaustively detailed.

Personally, I am running Rise of the Runelords right now and playing it with a separate group as a player at the same time (the GM doesn't mind). Both games are being run pretty much straight from the book. The other GM and I are each making our own little tweaks but all the major plot points are the same. And it's actually a lot of fun to see things from both sides at once. The game I am playing in is a bit ahead of mine which suits me just fine, but there are a lot of things that don't surprise me and I've given my character a self-imposed handicap to make things a little more challenging.

If it has been three years, I would just run it as it is and maybe make a few tweaks along the way as the muse strikes. Feel free to eliminate encounters you feel are repetitive or were overplayed last time and nudge the PCs to make sure they explore things they missed before. It's my experience that most D&D groups play for the socialization and the satisfaction of monster killing and looting rather than a novel experience every time. If you look at things like Pathfinder Society and it's origins in the RPGA Living campaigns, those adventures are so formulaic and predictable yet people continue to turn out in droves to play them because character-building is fun and so is hanging out with your buddies and meeting new folks.

Hope I've made some helpful suggestions.


Thanks all.

I agree that I could probably just rerun it without changes. I have been having a bit of a look at some of the story v adventure elements and will probably make a few changes to mix it up for those with long memories. I think putting in a couple of side quests will help.


I'd be inclined to run it similar, but perhaps put your encounters on different maps, or slightly different bad guys. I've just finished chapter 3 & feel that a fair amount could be changed, but still feed into the Cauldron over arching plot.


Oliver von Spreckelsen wrote:

Let them play other things that happen in and around Cauldron. "Drakthar's Way" . . . "Thieves in the Forest" . . . The Flood Festival and the (enhanced) Demonskar Ball are also very important though.

If you didn't use the Striders of Farlaghn before, use them now!

I totally agree with this. Starting the adventure in a "used" adventure world, where the actions of the former party matters, is great.

For about 15 years, my players in all campaigns have been in my version of Greyhawk, so actions are permanent, retired characters become NPCs, dead characters leaving their stuff behind. It makes things more meaningful everyone.

My current SCAP campaign began with Jzidrune mostly cleared (party I played in was TPK'd in the Malachite Fortress), and like Oliver suggested, I ran unrelated adventures to get the party ready.

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