Dance of the Damned (GM Reference)


Hell's Rebels

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The purpose of this thread is to clarify questions arising in this adventure.

This thread is a GM Reference thread for Part 3 of the Hell's Rebels Adventure Path. Links for the individual threads for each part are as follows:


Question: Is anyone else... concerned about this part of the Adventure path? The campaign outline says that Barzillai plans yo Trap the PCs and pin some sort of atrocity on them. Traps are difficult to pull off in RPGs, because you need the players to commit to a specific action, and you also need either to fool the PCs, or get them to willingly suspend disbelief.

With my players, there are a number of pitfalls: if I give them no opportunity to detect the trap, they're upset, especially since information gather/espionage is one of the major selling points of the Hell's Rebels AP. (If you use a Robinson's Laws of good gamemastering, three of my players are what he calls "tacticians" people who want to undermine the enemy's plot through clever strategy and tactics. The other two are fickle like cats)

Either way, there's the probability that the PCs decide "Trap. Let's go someplace else." If they decide not to attend, (presumably) Barzillai frames them in abstentia and they'll get upset. If they do go, I get five people doing Admiral Ackbar impressions.

Fortunately, that's all three two month's in the future, at least, but it has me worried for running this AP.

Any thoughts, strategies or advice?


Adrastaea wrote:

Question: Is anyone else... concerned about this part of the Adventure path? The campaign outline says that Barzillai plans yo Trap the PCs and pin some sort of atrocity on them. Traps are difficult to pull off in RPGs, because you need the players to commit to a specific action, and you also need either to fool the PCs, or get them to willingly suspend disbelief.

With my players, there are a number of pitfalls: if I give them no opportunity to detect the trap, they're upset, especially since information gather/espionage is one of the major selling points of the Hell's Rebels AP. (If you use a Robinson's Laws of good gamemastering, three of my players are what he calls "tacticians" people who want to undermine the enemy's plot through clever strategy and tactics. The other two are fickle like cats)

Either way, there's the probability that the PCs decide "Trap. Let's go someplace else." If they decide not to attend, (presumably) Barzillai frames them in abstentia and they'll get upset. If they do go, I get five people doing Admiral Ackbar impressions.

Fortunately, that's all three two month's in the future, at least, but it has me worried for running this AP.

Any thoughts, strategies or advice?

Is certainly too early to say.

Book 2 sets up a very good mcGuffin to explain this if the players take it. Thrune presents them with rewards which should be very difficult to turn down. These are of course, items to assist in scrying spells and such. If even one player keeps these items, you have a way of ambushing them, but providing the answer of "Yes, there was a way to avoid this, if you hadn't touched these items. As it was Thrune was able to heavily monitor your activities and make this plan. You're dealing with one of the highest ranking inquisitors, setting up ambushes and ferreting out those in hiding is what he specializes in, you will need to bring your A game to get 1-up on him. At least now you have a better idea of what he is capable of for future plans, or perhaps you're close to a direct assault and taking him out directly."

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The adventure itself actually ASSUMES that there's a better than good chance that the PCs will suspect or even know that it's a trap, and that they'll be able to use that knowledge to their advantage. You'll need to wait and see how we handle it in book 3, of course, but the intention isn't so much to trick the players as it is to reward them for good play and give them a chance to strike a sound blow against Barzillai when he doesn't expect they'll be ready for it.

And if the PCs DO decide to "go someplace else," that actually will likely backfire hard on them when the 4th adventure begins.

AKA: Adventure 3 rewards PCs who plan ahead, and punishes those who are timid or oblivious, if that makes sense.

Contributor

Huzzah!


Carter Lockhart wrote:
Book 2 sets up a very good mcGuffin to explain this if the players take it.

This is reassuring to hear.

James Jacobs wrote:

The adventure itself actually ASSUMES that there's a better than good chance that the PCs will suspect or even know that it's a trap, and that they'll be able to use that knowledge to their advantage. You'll need to wait and see how we handle it in book 3, of course, but the intention isn't so much to trick the players as it is to reward them for good play and give them a chance to strike a sound blow against Barzillai when he doesn't expect they'll be ready for it.

Very reassuring to hear.

James Jacobs wrote:

And if the PCs DO decide to "go someplace else," that actually will likely backfire hard on them when the 4th adventure begins.

AKA: Adventure 3 rewards PCs who plan ahead, and punishes those who are timid or oblivious, if that makes sense.

Hmm... I've known many players who feel that not going to a trap is the sensible and correct decision, to hell with whatthe villain is planning and no matter how blatantly the GM hits them with the clue-bat. Hopefully we'll see some discussion about running the AP after the players do something completely unexpected.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Adrastaea wrote:
Hmm... I've known many players who feel that not going to a trap is the sensible and correct decision, to hell with whatthe villain is planning and no matter how blatantly the GM hits them with the clue-bat. Hopefully we'll see some discussion about running the AP after the players do something completely unexpected.

I'm eager to see how it plays out, but the number of lures to go into the trap even knowing it's a trap are pretty compelling. Particularly if you approach it from, "Let's turn the trap back on Barzillai and trap HIM instead!"

Silver Crusade

Question: Did Lady Docur's School for Girls lock up its doors immediately when Thrune took over? I have a player who wants to be a only-sort-of-in-the-know professor there, and if I'm understanding Turn of the Torrent rumors correctly, at a certain point he would have been shut out.

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Elizabeth Corrigan wrote:
Question: Did Lady Docur's School for Girls lock up its doors immediately when Thrune took over? I have a player who wants to be a only-sort-of-in-the-know professor there, and if I'm understanding Turn of the Torrent rumors correctly, at a certain point he would have been shut out.

They didn't really lock up tight; she has a minor role to play throughout the AP, in fact. I'd hoped to build her a larger role, but never found a spot for it. Having a player character know her would be pretty fun, but you might need to adjust things a little bit. But whatever you do, don't worry too much about undoing or messing with future plans for her, since as I said she and her girls don't have a LARGE role to play.

Silver Crusade

Awesome, thanks! He'll be relieved. When I told him the school had probably closed his doors, his response was "But my girls need me!" I'm okay with changing a few things. I want the PCs involved with the city.

Liberty's Edge

Elizabeth Corrigan wrote:
Awesome, thanks! He'll be relieved. When I told him the school had probably closed his doors, his response was "But my girls need me!" I'm okay with changing a few things. I want the PCs involved with the city.

Now that sounds like a Line I'd use if I was playing a teacher type character.

___________________

I've enjoyed reading the first two modules and have players salivating at the idea of me running these adventures. Which means I'll have to adjust it anyway since most of my players all seem these days to have a desire to buy the same modules I do. From what I'm reading here I might prime my own variant trap for my group, unless I get one of my old players back(There away after joining the Marines). They almost literally fell into every trap obvious or otherwise in -EVERY- game I ran. (and more than once almost killing the group in the process)

Contributor

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Michael Talley 759 wrote:


I've enjoyed reading the first two modules and have players salivating at the idea of me running these adventures. Which means I'll have to adjust it anyway since most of my players all seem these days to have a desire to buy the same modules I do. From what I'm reading here I might prime my own variant trap for my group, unless I get one of my old players back(There away after joining the Marines). They almost literally fell into every trap obvious or otherwise in -EVERY- game I ran. (and more than once almost killing the group in the process)

And that's the beauty of these boards and the wonderful clever folk who come here; there's always suggestions and room for variations, for those groups who don't like to run out of the box. So please post up how you do it Michael and how it runs so other GMs can see. It's also interesting from a writing point of view to see different takes, I've many times seen GMs bring their version of adventures here and thought what cool ideas they were.

Rich


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I was quite excited about this adventure when I read about it. Then I noticed it was written by Richard Pett. Now I'm giddy. :)

Liberty's Edge

Richard Pett wrote:
Michael Talley 759 wrote:


I've enjoyed reading the first two modules and have players salivating at the idea of me running these adventures. Which means I'll have to adjust it anyway since most of my players all seem these days to have a desire to buy the same modules I do. From what I'm reading here I might prime my own variant trap for my group, unless I get one of my old players back(There away after joining the Marines). They almost literally fell into every trap obvious or otherwise in -EVERY- game I ran. (and more than once almost killing the group in the process)

And that's the beauty of these boards and the wonderful clever folk who come here; there's always suggestions and room for variations, for those groups who don't like to run out of the box. So please post up how you do it Michael and how it runs so other GMs can see. It's also interesting from a writing point of view to see different takes, I've many times seen GMs bring their version of adventures here and thought what cool ideas they were.

Rich

Well pulling a tactic from the Mummies mask that made me such a fun GM to my group that got a few using their heads. The Opening gambit of the Attack/Ambush/Trap Will likely start with A slow spell, and a few spells with Metamagic feat Disruptive for the casters [maybe even magic missle wands], although I do seem to have a few spell casters with low Will saves, so it might get everyone. Then again my players seem to have a difficult time with point buy.

As for the guards, After reading the Grey Maiden build in Shattered Star I tend to use the build for General Guard builds for Chelax it just seems a style they'd employ with the guards and was sad that it just seemed the Grey Maidens didn't get enough love, although I also loved the backgrounds in that set for how some of the women where forced to join not just with bribes & Bullying but magical compulsion. Certainly shows the "Strong Rule the weak" quite well when expressing the views of the Asmodeous Church.

As for getting them to the trap, the Strix raised with her human brother [yes typing this with a straight face] will likely find a magical item in one of their adventures and a loss of a minor noble house since they opted for the idea of getting the group to come from their own home and not another location.

Hopefully the third book has a similar in mind as I am still on book one but as I've tried to teach the newer GM in the area, prep work is always important.


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Zombie Sharks!!

That is all.

Liberty's Edge

captain yesterday wrote:

Zombie Sharks!!

That is all.

Awww No Young Zombie T-Rexes?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just skimmed the PDF. I really like the Ruby Masquerade section! :)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I may be the only one, but does it actually say anywhere exactly where the Menador Gap actually is? I'm looking at the big Inner Sea Poster Map Folio and I'm guessing that it's the break in the Menador Mountains near the headwaters of the Yolubilis River, but does Dance of the Damned actually give its exact location?


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Norgorber and Vyre, very nicely done, well played.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Branding Opportunity wrote:
I may be the only one, but does it actually say anywhere exactly where the Menador Gap actually is? I'm looking at the big Inner Sea Poster Map Folio and I'm guessing that it's the break in the Menador Mountains near the headwaters of the Yolubilis River, but does Dance of the Damned actually give its exact location?

That is indeed the location—we unfortunately weren't able to create a regional map for this volume—one appears in the 5th adventure and that one shows the exact location of the Menador Gap and the keep, as does the upcoming Cheliax book. The actual Menador Gap itself wasn't actaully named until this Adventure Path, so at this point in time, you won't find any in-print map tags for the gap or the keep.

But yes, if you follow the Yolubilis River to its source, the gap itself runs to the east through the mountains from that point. The keep itself is about in the center of the passs.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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captain yesterday wrote:
Norgorber and Vyre, very nicely done, well played.

Yup; that's been something I've been wanting to explore for many, many years. The map of Vyre is kinda personal too—we didn't have time to generate a brand new map of the city, so I basically gave up the main city from my homebrew campaign as a stand-in for Vyre. In my homebrew, the city's name is Eltrun and it was the site for a huge campaign I ran in college. Transplanting it into Vyre was an interesting and kinda melancholy stunt, since Vyre is a VERY different city then Eltrun.

Silver Crusade

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I know James Jacobs was saying in a thread a couple weeks back that they tend to hear more of the negative reactions than the positive, so I definitely wanted to say that I am LOVING Hell's Rebels so far, especially this installment. It is everything I dreamed a city rebellion adventure could be. I mean, two parties in one adventure! My investigator with ranks in profession(event planner) is so sad I'm GMing this one instead of playing. (She was already sad when she found out being obsessed with celebrities was a thing.)The Queen of Delights's banquet is my preferred party, because I love anything with a wide variety of skill checks. (Yup, I'm one of those weirdos who likes chase scenes.)

Also, I got to lord it over someone today that I knew something about Norgorber! (Crap, my hands are going to start shaking any second now.) Are we going to be returning to Vyre and dealing with the Norgorberites under the prison and such in later installments?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Eliandra Giltessan wrote:

I know James Jacobs was saying in a thread a couple weeks back that they tend to hear more of the negative reactions than the positive, so I definitely wanted to say that I am LOVING Hell's Rebels so far, especially this installment. It is everything I dreamed a city rebellion adventure could be. I mean, two parties in one adventure! My investigator with ranks in profession(event planner) is so sad I'm GMing this one instead of playing. (She was already sad when she found out being obsessed with celebrities was a thing.)The Queen of Delights's banquet is my preferred party, because I love anything with a wide variety of skill checks. (Yup, I'm one of those weirdos who likes chase scenes.)

Also, I got to lord it over someone today that I knew something about Norgorber! (Crap, my hands are going to start shaking any second now.) Are we going to be returning to Vyre and dealing with the Norgorberites under the prison and such in later installments?

Well...

Spoiler:
The Skinsaw cult plays a role in the 4th and 6th parts, yeah, but there's not a return trip to Vyre in the adventure.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
I know James Jacobs was saying in a thread a couple weeks back that they tend to hear more of the negative reactions than the positive, so I definitely wanted to say that I am LOVING Hell's Rebels so far.

Same here, very positive!


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Yay! It's a love fest!

I must say, this has been my favorite adventure path yet!

Very nicely done, all around but especially the player's guide, it's the reason I decided to subscribe. I think having the lead developer write it is what did it.

Silver Crusade

James Jacobs wrote:
Eliandra Giltessan wrote:

I know James Jacobs was saying in a thread a couple weeks back that they tend to hear more of the negative reactions than the positive, so I definitely wanted to say that I am LOVING Hell's Rebels so far, especially this installment. It is everything I dreamed a city rebellion adventure could be. I mean, two parties in one adventure! My investigator with ranks in profession(event planner) is so sad I'm GMing this one instead of playing. (She was already sad when she found out being obsessed with celebrities was a thing.)The Queen of Delights's banquet is my preferred party, because I love anything with a wide variety of skill checks. (Yup, I'm one of those weirdos who likes chase scenes.)

Also, I got to lord it over someone today that I knew something about Norgorber! (Crap, my hands are going to start shaking any second now.) Are we going to be returning to Vyre and dealing with the Norgorberites under the prison and such in later installments?

Well... ** spoiler omitted **

Awesome, thanks!

Spoiler:
This may inspire me to add a trip back, depending what else happens. Dunno how my players will feel about Skinsaw cultists in their new nation.


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I only skimmed the PDF, and of course the future installments haven't come out yet, but do we get to see any reference to Ironbriar, either his background and/or "buddies", or if he managed to skip out of a certain town/city in an earlier AP and return to Vyre?


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Art interpretation time!

The artwork on page 22,
Please tell me Valeros is outside looking upset with Merisiel beckoning him forth because he's pissed she told him he needed to wear drag, Merisiel is just thinking about how to get Alain next.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't have my book in front of me, but I'm pretty sure that's Kyra.


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Son of a b*$~#! Good eye!

Not gonna lie, a little disappointed it's not Valeros :-)

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's fine, Cap. I've secretly longed for a Frazetta style picture of Valeros and Amiri for awhile - but genderswapped. Amiri's the one holding the blade and looking badass, while Valeros is the one lying on the ground, his arm draped around her leg, and he's wearing next to nothing.

It's the 21st Century. Time to start balancing the equation.


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Someone mistook Kyra for Valeros. Seems like that might call for a stabbing.

Dark Archive

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As fun as that would be, I think the real takeaway is that you need to concoct a plan that only works if Alain dresses in drag.

Because, you know, reasons.


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I would pay cash money for that, especially if it's either the cover or a chapter opener:-D

Dark Archive

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Merisiel Sillvari wrote:
Someone mistook Kyra for Valeros. Seems like that might call for a stabbing.

If you dont mind me asking where is that avatar image from or is it a unique one for the messageboard?


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Kevin Mack wrote:
Merisiel Sillvari wrote:
Someone mistook Kyra for Valeros. Seems like that might call for a stabbing.
If you dont mind me asking where is that avatar image from or is it a unique one for the messageboard?

Isn't it awesome????

It's from an illustration of Merisiel that Eva Widermann did for me in an art booklet I bought from her.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Merisiel Sillvari wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Merisiel Sillvari wrote:
Someone mistook Kyra for Valeros. Seems like that might call for a stabbing.
If you dont mind me asking where is that avatar image from or is it a unique one for the messageboard?

Isn't it awesome????

It's from an illustration of Merisiel that Eva Widermann did for me in an art booklet I bought from her.

Very nice


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Eva Widermann is one of my favorite artists, especially because she was the only artist for 3rd edition that didn't make Drow look alien, but yeah big fan of her work :-)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Something that has been bugging me since reading book two, but especially in book three when Octavio wants the party to look into the missing Mayor: shouldn't he be able to use his locate creature ability to prove that she is still in the city? One would think he would have known all along that Barzillai was lying because of that...?


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Probably not.
The limited range of Locate creature (400+40 feet level) means she could be out of range. It is also debatable if the vampire mayor counts as the same creature as the human mayor, a thin sheet of lead also blocks it and her coffin could well be lead or leadlined it was I believe common in historical coffins,

Paizo Employee Creative Director

MaxAstro wrote:
Something that has been bugging me since reading book two, but especially in book three when Octavio wants the party to look into the missing Mayor: shouldn't he be able to use his locate creature ability to prove that she is still in the city? One would think he would have known all along that Barzillai was lying because of that...?

Nope. Since she's a vampire, she's died and transformed. Locating the LIVING Jilia Bainilus is now as impossible as if she were dead, and you can't even use locate object on her corpse, because it's not a corpse any more. Turns out, this was one of the main reasons they decided to do this to her—transforming her into a vampire not only puts her under total control but helps hide her REALLY well.


I felt a little bad reading through the Ruby Massacre and seeing the Dottari involved. Thus far while my players have gotten into a couple scuffles with them, they have actually gone to a fair amount of effort to be respectful of their authority and even tried to befriend them at some points. I was considering replacing the Dottari with members of the Order of Rack for the encounter but giving it some thought I feel it might reward the party better if I keep the Dottari but have some of them break rank to defend the Ravens and the population during the encounter.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

In fact, I would strongly reccomend keeping the Dottari there in this case, particularly due to the emotional punch it'll pack. This is, in effect, a localized civil war, and that type of element—fighting your neighbors—is a part of what makes this sort of thing so tough.

That said... if your PCs have been particularly respectful and worked with the Dottari, it'd be cool if when the Ruby Massacre comes along that the PCs might actually have a chance to convince the Dottari in the opera house to stand down or even to help rescue the citizens. There's still PLENTY to menace the PCs in the fight, but if they've gotten this far without becoming monsters to the Dottari or even maintaining good relations... allowing them to use that accomplishment to have the Dottari essentially help rescue ALL the citizens at the last minute due to an impassioned plea from a PC is a great way to reward them.


I'm surprised you were able to befriend the Dottari, aren't they basically stormtroopers?

Silver Crusade

No, dottari are people like anybody else. I've actually got a dottari player in my group (though she doesn't get along w a lot of her coworkers), and I played a dottari paladin through Council of Thieves.

Shadow Lodge

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Axial wrote:
I'm surprised you were able to befriend the Dottari, aren't they basically stormtroopers?

If "stormtrooper" means "pro-regime paramilitary," then no. The dottari are fairly ordinary city guard. That does mean they take orders from Thrune, and certainly their first response is defense of the state. But that's a consequence of their position, not necessarily an ideological commitment.

The Chelish Citizens Group and the Order of the Rack? They're pro-regime paramilitaries.


The problem with the dottari in Hells Rebels is the leadership, not the grunts. Barzillai replaced the commander and officers with a bunch of loyal Thrunie evil peops. The average, every day soldier is probably LN, with some LE and some LG (though a declining #) mixed in.


It is quite possible that I've opted not to portray certain factions as was intended. I see the Dottari as mostly well meaning people who at times may perhaps lack the discretion to question duty when they should. As others have suggested most of the more principled high ranking officers left their ranks when Thrune showed up but it's possible a few decent officers stuck around in a vain attempt to keep the organization honest.

I imagine that there must be a bit dissent within the Order of Rack. While I'm sure that Barzillai went to what efforts he could to ensure that he brought along people that would loyal to him, it seems reasonable that some might realize what he's doing isn't good for Cheliax's stability and might discretely oppose his methods out of loyalty to the Queen.

The Chelish Citizen's Group is likely a combination of true believers in the Chelish way of life and those who simply support the status quo for a desire for stability.

For the campaign I've been running I've tried very hard to stress that while there are definitely people who will never be swayed to Raven's side potential friends and allies can be found in unlikely places if the risk is taken to look.

Also sorry for not saying this sooner but thanks for your input, James. I appreciate it and will certainly keep your input in mind when I get running that portion of the adventure.


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One of my group wants to play a strix. I was going to let the character have fake diplomatic credentials to give him a bit more freedom of movement around town, since otherwise the strix are probably not going to be too liked by anyone. (Yeah, I know, diplomatic credentials may not be the exact right word since they live in the same province.) Any thoughts on playing a strix? Hopefully the section on the strix in book 5 will help.


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There seems to be a possible omission in the description of the third course of the queen's banquet:

Dance of the Damned, p25: wrote:
"She goes around the table, asking the guests what they each consider to be the greatest sin. She leaves the PCs for last - they must answer with the skill check (Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate) of their choice."

But nothing is said about the DC of the skill check, or the consequences (good or bad) of making it... is this omission intentional?

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