Need help with big changes...


Rise of the Runelords


My players have just defeated Aldern Foxglove. They haven't left for Magnimar yet.
One of my players came to me and admitted that he had just found the RotRL book at a comic shop and skimmed through it. He admitted that he now knows the plot hooks of each chapter, the bad guys encountered in each chapter, and the overall plot.
I'm kind of dumbfounded because this is one of my best players. His girlfriend plays as well and he told me he couldn't wait to gear up his girlfriend's character to be able to "mow through hordes of giants."
He told me he would try to forget what he read, but he doubt he could.
I was, and am, really angry about this. I told him I was upset but the more I think about it, the angrier I become.
My first thought was to kick him out of the group. I despise metagaming and see no way his knowledge will stay out of the game. If I do that, his girlfriend will definitely leave too, which will leave me with 2 players. It will effectively destroy the group.
My second thought was to scrap the campaign. Start something new. This hurts the other players who have devoted so much time to the story and their characters. It also punishes me, since I have put hours upon hours into this.
I could tell him that he's not allowed to be a proactive player. He has to just go with everyone else's decisions. But I know he's already talking to his girlfriend about what is to come. I won't go into it, but I know this player and know that he will do that.
So, I'm left with the idea that I need to just change as much as I can. Not just the monsters they encounter, but I need to tweak things so that he can't predict what is to come.
So, my question to you all is: What major changes have you made to the story that I might be able to borrow?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I feel your pain.

However, all is not lost - you're at a pretty good point to pull a switcheroo, and send the players into the Shattered Star instead.

Send them to Magnimar - start up the murder investigations, swap things over to the Dawn of the Scarlet Sun which can segue into Shattered Star (assuming that you have that as part of your library, its no big deal save for the time you've spent building resources for Rise).

You can still come back and use parts of Rise as well to keep them connected to Sandpoint.


Its really his loss in the game and if he is a good enough player he should be able to play the game with out meta gaming.

Really any player who wants to can look at what is going to be happening in the game and its a part of the contract of gaming if you have not to ruin it for other players.

Everyone knows giants are coming there is a trait called giant hunter.

And if he knows all that its more than skimming.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

There is no guarantee that any switches you make he won't meta-game in the future. If the player knows the module you're running then he can probably find it somewhere.

I must admit that I also have a player who learns about stuff in RotRL by going online to learn about the foes (there's a lot of material out there). I actually started giving various foes nicknames instead of their actual names, and I have let him know I have been modifying enemies.

If I were to try and offer advice? Put it up to the group. Let them know the player has cheated by reading the module, and that you're upset about it. Ask them what they think should be done. And then accept the majority ruling of players (without the guilty player having a vote).

To be honest? You might lose your group over this. And you can always modify foes if you feel like it. It's more work, but the Adventure Path ultimately is an outline from which you can build upon.

Liberty's Edge

Drop the player and his girlfriend from the game. Find replacement player(s). Problem solved.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Change the Giants to Hobgoblins and Bugbears. Create a few additional Hobgoblin/Bugbear variations and sizes to fill the niches currently occupied by the various Giant races. Goblins play a significant role in Burnt Offerings, so Hobgoblins and Bugbears continue that theme.

Also, at your next gaming session, sit down with your players and explain what's happened, that this upsets you because you've put a lot of work into the campaign, and how (as a result)you're having to make extensive changes to counteract the metagaming. This is why we don't flip through the books.

-Skeld


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Ok, maybe I'm strange, but I don't see a problem if he just skimmed AP. There is a problem if he read AP cover to cover, remembers every detail, every name, every plot twist, every monster statblock and uses it, by telling every player what is next behind the corner.
But by your words, he just skimmed. And kicking him out for this... This is overreacting.

To explain - my players are mostly GMs who know the setting and other APs as much as I do. They knew the overall plot for RotRL that I run, they know the plot for CotCT that I'm running, and know the overall plot of Second Darkness that I will run. And I know the overall plot for Kingmaker and Skull&Shackles where I am a player. I didn't kick anybody for this, and wasn't kicked myself.

And seriously, Players Guide for AP, Inner Sea World Guide and the name of AP give a ton of information about who Big Bad/s may be, and where they (he) probably is.

My point is - it's not about how much he knows, it's about how blunt, often and disrespectful he uses it.
And knowing that there will be giants in AP, with Giant Slayer trait in its Players Guide, isn't much of a crime, or that he would go one-shot killer against them (besides, at 13-15 level party will kill anybody in their way in 3 to 5 rounds, despite who they are).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I don't see the big deal either.

But, you could always switch stuff around with Shattered Star, they have a lot of the same themes.


I'm running RotRL just wrapping up chapter 3. One of my players actually GMed this campaign for a different group and a 2nd player played it through ch3. With that in mind Ive done many major changes to keep them guessing. Ive posted them on this forum. You should be fine with a bit of work.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ashkar wrote:
Ok, maybe I'm strange, but I don't see a problem if he just skimmed AP.

Based on OP's openingaragraph, the player did more than skim since he admitted to knowing the plot, chapter villains, and plot hooks. To me, it's a breach of gaming etiquette to read an adventure after you've started it, but before it's complete. Reading it before you've played, well, sometimes that happens, especially when you don't know you play that adventure in the future.

-Skeld


Or...

you could view this as your player being so excited about the game he's consuming other media to get his fix.

Is the point of this game to be surprised by [insert cliche] here and [plot trope used in every fantasy game every here] and then be shocked when the bad guys are [generic fantasy monster here]. Do GM's seriously get upset if players go into a 'wrath of the righteous' campaign and figure out that demons are a normal enemy? Reading the players guide doesn't it already tell you giants are a huge theme and rangers should take them as a favored enemy?

I usually take it that the point of the game is to adventure with my friends, role play (ACTING! Said in my best Jon Lovitz voice) a different type of character than I am in real life, and have fun. Knowing the main enemies isn't going to spoil this adventure - honestly he'd know the enemies if he read the 'blurb' on the back of each of the adventures - I look at it like a movie trailer or blurb - if the marketing material gives out more as 'spoiler' than you are comfortable with the problem may not be with other people.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Well, let's put it this way. Let's say there is a wizard at some point who might cast Dimension Door to escape the PCs and flee to gain reinforcements if possible. This is only really the second foe to try this tactic. Now most PCs will not take Dimensional Anchor as an everyday spell. But this player learns Wizard X will Dimension Door away when brought to Y Hit Points. So he ensures Dimensional Anchor is a spell taken and makes sure the Wizard is unable to escape.

This is meta-gaming. And yes, I know having a villain escape and return for another round can be annoying... but there were thematic and dramatic aspects to this escape and next fight!

(For the record, my group DID encounter a foe with Dimension Door. She escaped after being brought below 0 hit points, her body looted, and a failed coup de grace (the bad guy was in fact Mythic). The PCs, also being Mythic, used a Mythic Point to cast any spell, ensure Dimensional Anchor was up, and ensured she would not escape a second time. It's kind of funny actually as this Return Antagonist ended up being considered the Big Bad instead of the necromancer who was supposed to be the real threat! When facing another foe who could have Dimension Doored away, well, let's just say Feeblemind is a very effective method of keeping enemies from using DD! But at least it wasn't Dimensional Anchor this time!)

So knowing what an enemy's tactics are and spells? It can be a detriment to the game. That the player felt enough guilt to admit this does say something positive about him... but when I found out one of my players was looking up foes, I got angry. So I fully understand. Of course, I also got even because I use Hero Labs and just... modify enemies. His knowledge means nothing when I can change things on a whim.


Skeld wrote:
Based on OP's openingaragraph, the player did more than skim since he admitted to knowing the plot, chapter villains, and plot hooks.

Mmm, looking at summaries of Strange Aeons arcs, I know the plot, some villains (and Big Bad) and plot hooks. Does it disqualify me from playing the AP if my friend wants to run it?

Tangent101 wrote:
So knowing what an enemy's tactics are and spells? It can be a detriment to the game.

Yes, it is a detriment, but when I'm still waiting to see any of enemy tactics from original statblock work. Usually, I know well enough, that they will die faster if they would follow it, so I have always to change it. Standard tactics are better to be considered as a advice.


Whichever way it goes, I think it is very bad form to change a campaign to the point where it just screws some of the players.The player came out and admitted, before the campaign got this far, that he has this knowledge, and supposedly he did not mean to - he just happened to have read the book somewhere. Punishing him for that strikes me as excessive.

Sure, the DM is annoyed one or two players (accidentally) know some of the plot and enemies and want to be prepared. That is not cool, but neither is deciding as GM you are going to change the campaign to the extent that these options become a 100% trap. There is a good chance that the players are going to be unhappy because they are consciously being punished, because they were. Sounds like a great way to ensure everyone else gets pissed too and the group splits.

As I see it, option one is to continue with the campaign, tell the player that there will be some changes, and spice things up a bit. Giants should still be an issue, especially if they were hinted at, but include some more enemies of a different kind - perhaps the Runelords had other slave races like the sinspawn or some of those strange spidery things from the Pathfinder comics. Perhaps the necromancer ogress had much of her family reanimated instead (or she is a proto-alienist and has some aberrations nearby). Keep some giants, just not as much.

And anyway, what if the GF´s character is actaully decent at killing giants? PCs are generally assumed to be good at what they do. Just adding some extra stats to the giants (or making them more) can keep the fights challenging. IF this one guy knows some of the plot, it just spoils it for him. If he tries to metagame for the group, this COULD be an issue, but that is another story (and then you can start throwing curveballs).

Option two is to change the AP, ideally before everyone has set their builds. There are plenty of adventures and APs in Varisia, so it should not be hard.

Option three is to kick the players, but again, the player was being honest here, and I do not feel it is cool to punish this.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

This isn't prior knowledge, Shaman.

The player had been a part of the Runelords Campaign for 1.5 books (having just dealt with Aldern). The player admitted "I just came across the book" which suggests he had gone through this material AFTER the campaign had been running. And the player then examined the write-up of various chapter-ending bosses.

This isn't reading a couple pages, looking at the glossary at the nifty magic items, and being wowed by it. This is opening it up, reading up on each "big bad" for the villains, and feeling guilty about it so 'fessing up... but also admitting "I don't know if I can forget this information."

In short: this was deliberate.

In addition: He was planning on using this knowledge to help another character anticipate the enemy (giants in this case). Despite having said he'd try to "forget" this information.

This would be like if someone was playing an MMORPG and used a Trainer App to beef up his or her character despite the fact the friends had agreed to only play and level up together. Would you want to play with friends with one person cheating to be more powerful than the others?


Ok, the impression I got was that the player had previously read the book - as in, before knowing that the game would take place. However, I read the opening post again and it seems that it happened recently. I do not know if the DM advertised the name of the game - some DMs do not do this. Presuming the player knew in advance what he was reading, okay, this is worse.

Still, it feels stupid throwing the player out for actually telling you about it. I can´t know just how detailed his "skimming" was, but ultimately he is hurting his own appreciation for the game. The DM can up the challenge - if it turns out that the encounters are too easy - and throw in some curveballs. However, the anniversary edition already has some hints in the player´s guide that giants or the like are coming. I think that some of the OP´s ideas strike me as the kind of overreacting that may end up being more disruptive than what the player did.


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I'm not sure we're helping the OP since he asked about major changes he could make not whether he should make them or not. Even so, I'm going to start there too.

These two ideas seem in conflict to me: "...found the RotRL book at a comic shop and skimmed through it. He admitted that he now knows the plot hooks of each chapter, the bad guys encountered in each chapter, and the overall plot." Skimming and knowing that level of plot detail are not the same to me. If he knows that much, that's standing in the aisle at the comic shop for an hour reading in detail, not skimming. It might be a good idea to quiz him on exactly what he knows before you jump off into "major changes." Major changes to me signify major work for the DM, and because I'm lazy, I don't like major work as a DM and by extension I apply that logic to other DM's.

I'd also like to echo the sentiment above - how much does he really know that isn't directly communicated in the Book titles? Burnt Offerings, Skinsaw Murders, Hook Mountain Massacre, Fortress of the Stone Giants, Sins of the Saviors and Spires of Xin Shalast. Titles for books 2, 3, 4 and 6 tell you something significant about what has or will happen. And knowledge of the book titles isn't hard to come by...

All that said, a player reading the module he's currently playing through after the adventure starts is grievously bad form. Cheating of the highest order. Not to get all preachy, but it's breaking an implied covenant between the players and the DM. And then having cheated, sharing that information with another player (as seems to have happened with the girlfriend) is gasoline on the fire. The DM is well within his rights to expel the offender, publicly shame him or extract a pound of flesh in whatever manner the DM deems fit. However, rights and good idea are not necessarily the same thing so I would advise a light touch pending damage to social relationships or cohesion of the group. Perhaps: "Since nimrod here chose to read the module, I'm going to make some changes to invalidate his knowledge. I'll do my best but I can't guarantee these changes will benefit from the play balance provided by professional adventure designers or that difficulty won't jump unexpectedly." YMMV

Now on to the OP's ask. I'll throw these behind a spoiler tag since they address major plot points in the AP.

Spoiler:

Note: these are only ideas. A lot of work is needed to carry them out.

Remainder of Book 2: Change Ironbriar to simply a charmed justice. Remove the Sawmill as an encounter location. Xanesha has set up a massive criminal operation in Underbridge, killed the previous Skinsaw cult leader and used the remaining charmed cultists as enforcers along with charmed Sczarni, etc. The players need to infiltrate this organization all the while being thwarted and hunted by legitimate guards being directed by the co-opted Ironbriar.

Book 3: Lucretia has had it with Karzoug and his continual promotion of lesser creatures like Mokmurian (see Book 4 suggestions however) and that dolt Khalib. She sank the Paradise out of frustration and rebellion and has recruited an army of (lamias? fire giants? hobgoblins?) to support her. And she's charmed just about everyone in Turtleback Ferry into believing she's the only one that can save them. The pc's find the town actively hostile to their arrival (seeing as they are proxies for the incompetent and conniving government of Magnimar.) She manipulates the pc's into taking out Barl and the Kreeg ogres so she can move in and establish her own domain. The nymph and Black Arrow leader are not undead but instead the Shimmerglens are the only safe haven in the region for the pc's and the surviving Black Arrows. It's there the pc's can learn about Lucretia's true nature.

Book 4: It's not Mokmurian that's gone mad with power, it's Conna. She killed her husband and created the haunt under Jorgenfist. The runeforge cauldron doesn't make runeslaves, it lets her mass produce flesh golems. Or bathing in it doesn't kill giants, it gives them stoneskin for a week. Replace the roc's with dragons and the harpy monks with erinyes devils. Mokmurian is a downtrodden runt that while mistreated by his peers still seeks to free them from the horrible fate he foresees. He Wormtongues it with Conna to stay in her good graces and secretly allies with the pc's. And when it would inconvenience the pc's the most, he sneaks in and steals the scrollcase from the Black Monk, sending him and his erinyes minions on the warpath to find it. Mokmurian gets the anethma archive and tries to use it to Wish some outcome differently (not sure what this is) but whatever it is, it goes horribly wrong. For everyone. Maybe it sends them back in time to when the Black Tower was filled with Peacock Spirit wizard-monks, who obviously react with violence to the intruders. The only way back is for one of the pc's to try to use the archive to wish them back home. That can backfire with insanity a few times before it actually works.

Book 5: Instead of becoming ever more isolated, the various factions in Runeforge have allied (except for Envy, which no one liked. They took out that faction long, long ago and now they use it as a punishment of sorts. Screw up and we throw in where your magic will fail and the ooze will eat you.) They have a semi-functioning power structure (a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail: We're an anarchosyndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week...) In this version Vraxeris is still very much alive and the hidden puppet master behind the place. The pc's have to role-play their way as much if not more than fighting their way through, all the while being opposed by Ordikon (and maybe other Transmuter wizards) who are now supporting Karzoug's return.

Book 6: No dwarvish mine and its haunts. Instead the pc's have to track a survivor of the Vekker expedition to find the journal. Maybe the survivor ended up in Kaer Maga - find him or his tomb. Once on their way to Xin Shalast, they don't run into the helpful nymph, the Icemists are the domain of the ghost of Svevenka who was slain 10000 years ago by Karzoug and has turned the region into a blighted wasteland of undead fey. She can only be put to rest by killing Karzoug. Once they reach Xin Shalast, it's not an army staging area, it's a full on war zone. A force from the Celestial planes (archons? azata?) is here trying to stop Karzoug from rising. Both sides automatically assume the pc's are agents for the other side and attack them on sight. The pc's have to gather sihedron rings and climb to the pinnacle while dodging both ground and aerial patrols.


Wow...

Quote:


Book 4: It's not Mokmurian that's gone mad with power, it's Conna. She killed her husband and created the haunt under Jorgenfist. The runeforge cauldron doesn't make runeslaves, it lets her mass produce flesh golems. Or bathing in it doesn't kill giants, it gives them stoneskin for a week. Replace the roc's with dragons and the harpy monks with erinyes devils. Mokmurian is a downtrodden runt that while mistreated by his peers still seeks to free them from the horrible fate he foresees. He Wormtongues it with Conna to stay in her good graces and secretly allies with the pc's. And when it would inconvenience the pc's the most, he sneaks in and steals the scrollcase from the Black Monk, sending him and his erinyes minions on the warpath to find it. Mokmurian gets the anethma archive and tries to use it to Wish some outcome differently (not sure what this is) but whatever it is, it goes horribly wrong. For everyone. Maybe it sends them back in time to when the Black Tower was filled with Peacock Spirit wizard-monks, who obviously react with violence to the intruders. The only way back is for one of the pc's to try to use the archive to wish them back home. That can backfire with insanity a few times before it actually works.

I've already setup big M as the bad guy here - but the rest of that is so f'n epic that I'm stealing it.


I'm going to reply to a lot of this, but first, to Shaman...

This was no "accident." The player admitted to knowing it wasn't cool to do it but he "just couldn't help himself."


Latrecis,
THANK YOU. This is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ashkar wrote:
Skeld wrote:
Based on OP's openingaragraph, the player did more than skim since he admitted to knowing the plot, chapter villains, and plot hooks.
Mmm, looking at summaries of Strange Aeons arcs, I know the plot, some villains (and Big Bad) and plot hooks. Does it disqualify me from playing the AP if my friend wants to run it?

Disqualify? No. But if you GM tells you they wants to run Strange Aeons, you should tell them that you've read the summaries, etc. It's a common courtesy in gaming.

Now, let's try a different hypothetical. You GM is running SA and you guys are half way through the second chapter when you go and read those summaries, that would be a different story.

Paizo has caught heat before (you can search the forums) for how spoilery their summaries are. Personally, I think they give too much away. However, they have to tread a fine line between generating excitement and giving away too many spoilers.

regardless of our opinions on whether of not it's ok, OP is upset about it.

-Skeld


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Latrecis,

Those ideas are pretty cool - well done.

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