I want my players to experience the Paradise before it sinks. One PC has a bard contact who plays nightly shows on the Paradise.
I think it would be cool to have the players to have a small side-quest on the Paradise the night before it sinks.
Has anyone done this? What would be a good quest to have them do on the boat? I think it would be a fun scenario with the gambling, dancing, entertainment, etc...
I did something like what you described.
Since my group opted for the trip to TBF by boat I had them board the Paradise in Ilsurian. The Paradise was on an extended cruise from TBF to I and back.
The PCs got the choice of indulging in gambling, drugs, visiting the ladies and gents working in the dance hall etc.
My main objective was to have them encounter Lady Lucrecia (they had accepted a side quest from Jubrail Vhiski to contact L and suggest a cooperation between the two to her).
They were not allowed to visit the pleasures hosted below deck though (as they were not marked by the rune) but my usually nosy players did not follow this lead (and didn't notice the rune on anybody being onboard).
I used the descriptions of the boat/barge/ship provided here on the forum by several posters and made my own drawing of the barge for easy print-out (no fancy decorations just the basic outline/shapes of the ship and the various rooms/cabins.
Yeah, I did it that way too - should have the outline of what I did in the Hook Mountain thread.
I think it's a good plan - learning (after I planned to do it) that visiting the Paradise was part of the original adventure that was cut only made sense.
I did more work than I needed to - I think if you have a list of rooms for the Paradise with descriptions, the map will not be needed.
My players (mostly) avoided it, the one player who did, saw Keven, and a drunk guy falling overboard (and getting eaten by a big turtle). If the party had rescued the drunk guy, they could have gotten to see the rune mark. I do like RuyanVe's Sczarni angle, sounds like a good way to bring the Sczarni thread forward as a lead in to the events at the beginning of the next adventure.
We did this as well. I made Turtleback Ferry a little larger and more important to Magnimar than in the AP, with some mines in the vicinity. This provided Lucrecia with more potential victims. I gave Lucrecia a nasty little side kick, a gnome wizard named Brippo who specialized in acid spells. He ran a gambling house in the town catering to the miners. Here's where they "recruited" and offered Sihedron tattoos to the greediest miners which granted free access to the Paradise when it arrived. The PCs went undercover, got themselves tattoo's and went on the Paradise when it visited a couple of days later. I used a slightly edited map of a Mississippi steamboat for the Paradise.
Lucrecia was on board of course, and the PCs spotted her charmed giant pikes and turtle following the boat. I had some encounters and happenings on the Paradise, but my PCs were very passive and didn't investigate much and missed/misunderstood the clues about what was going to happen. So they were too slow to do much when Lucrecia's goons sealed everyone in and Brippo summoned fire elementals and set them loose. The ship sank, the PCs had to get to shore while getting attacked by the charmed sea monsters (which later returned when Turtleback Ferry was flooded, instead of Black Magga which I didn't care for). The PC's didn't manage to save anyone but themselves and saw it as a great failure on their part. But it was some nice scenes and they really got to hate Lucrecia (and Brippo).
The maps were great for our gameplay!
I replaced BM with an advanced giant dragon turtle (see HMM GM thread). We switched to initiative when it attacked the Paradise and set it ablaze using its breath weapon (L left the party at this moment). The fire spread damaging the hull and people panicked.
I rolled d6+6 for the number of rounds until the boat would sink and teared the map in half on count of four rounds. This divided the party running for their gear (which I ruled they had to stash in a cloak room), helping others being onboard, dodging attacks from the turtle and so on. We changed standard movement speed to climb speed (simulating the rise of fore and aft, swim checks where called for for our fighter who just prior to the attack decided it was time to get his heavy armor back on... good times.
Now the group is discussing how to salvage all the valuables from the wreck.
I also have been prepping a major re-work of this section of Hook Mountains for awhile now. I really felt my first group missed out on a lot off the sinister plot of Xenisha and Lucresia, so I decided to amp them up, and have them work together a bit more.
My vision also has the Paradise working as a ferry/casino, with multiple destinations between many of the smaller villages. The group would be investigating its possible connection to Xenisha via advertisements and odd letters found in the clock tower. They most likely would try to pick up the Ferry in Whistledown as it would the closest, and on the southern half of the lake. The sisters goal is still to blow up the dam, and anything on the waterway all the way to Magnimar is up for harvest.
I reworked the start of the Graul encounter and moved the Graul farm to a house on the way to Whistle Down ferry dock. I modified this encounter to start via the group coming across a young human girl trying to escape Rukkus Graul, (there would be no Black Arrows are on property her family are the Inn Keepers in Whistledown). Kind of like Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The Paradise will start to burn down with the group still on it, Lucresia making her villainous escape, just off shore from Turtle Back Ferry. Hopefully, the group will be escaping just in time. They will get to meet the town in a time of tragedy. Trying to further figure out where Lucresia might have run off too.
"My" Lucrecia escaped and went back to the fort as I assumed the ogres can do a couple days without her: the attack on Rannick has already happened (that's why the PCs are asked to go to TBF in the first place) and she enjoys these days "off" so to speak, away from the brutish, filthy ogres.
More along the lines of the OP's question:
What I tried was to get the PCs involved in the microcosmos aboard: games of chance/gambling, dancing, drugs, lazyness, ...
This could involve all kinds of quests: help a broke guy win back his fortune, uncover a cheater, defend a prostitute from a brutal suitor, or even free one, engage Lucrecia in a discussion, discover a gang of pick pockets, ...
I too have used Eel's End as a basis for constructing Paradise, but the main function of the place in my campaign will be to introduce Lucrecia, seeing as I feel she deserves a lot more in the way of interactions than what is offered by the AP as is. Here are some of my ideas, in their most railroady form.
In our campaign, I've boosted Lucrecia quite a bit, giving her 4 sorcerer levels instead of 2, which gives her access to one 5th level spell. I want her to be more powerful than Xanesha, and more powerful than proper for the current party level, as she has come all the way from Xin-Shalast. She is still arrogant, as is proper for her kind, but not careless. Behind silken veils along the walls of Paradise's lower deck is hidden a Symbol of Sleep, which she'll happily utilise if her establishment gets in trouble. However, being challenged by the PCs sure is a nice change from the monotony, and she may be tempted to see what the group is capable of before acivating her trap.
Most of the characters will be knocked out by the symbol, but at least two of them are immune to sleep, and of the other four some might make their save. Lucrecia would love to see them all (along with 2d6+10 other guests) fall asleep so that she could carve the Sihedron rune on their skin before sinking the ship, but ultimately this improvisation will fail. She is not really prepared for the group (since she doesn't know of them), but she gladly takes this circumstance as her excuse to jump ship and sink the Paradise.
If the group enters the Paradise at the right time, disguised Red Hand Assassins will follow them out there, killing the ferrymen on both of the ferries that take guests back and forth. A ship bell on the Paradise is rung whenever new guests arrive by one of the ferries, so the group may hear it herald the arrival of the assassins while waiting for Lucrecia to greet them. This means that the assassins silently make their way across the jetties and barges and orderlies that make up the Paradise (under cover of rain) while the group have their interaction with Lucrecia. In the end, their conversation may be interrupted by dual-wielding psychoes hungry for a showdown, which our bored Lady Lucrecia should enjoy.
I've not yet decided exactly how the Paradise will sink, but it definitively will sink. It may be rigged with magic or otherwise, or Lucrecia can take care of weak spots of the hull from below with her swim speed. The place has been there for more than a year, so she has had more than enough time to set up contingencies.
In the end, my players may be left on a sinking ship, more than half a mile from Turtleback Ferry, but I'm pretty sure they'll be fine. Depending on how everything goes down, the mayor could suspect that something is wrong, but all that's a bit in the wind for now. Lucrecia may set fire to the huts on some of the barges before leaving it all behind, which should signal the citizens easily enough. Also, among the ship, barges, and jetty, there is more than enough material to float back to shore if the not-sleeping characters act quickly enough.
I'd love for Lucrecia to become a recurring villain in the campaign until the group is more on par with her powers, but we'll see.