General questions for GMing this AP (anniversary edition)


Curse of the Crimson Throne


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Hey all. I'm getting ready to GM this for a PbP campaign and wanted to ask for advice from folks who have already run or played through it. There may be spoilers ahead.

1. Any sort of "trigger" issues I should flag for potential players? I read about Gaedren and Gobblegut and read in one thread this AP messed with some players heads. I don't want to start this and then have people dropping out because they're having issues with the content.

2. I'm leaning towards starting the PbP campaign with 6-7 players, expecting 2 to drop out. With that in mind, what kind of point buy would you suggest? I've usually done 20 but am debating 15. I won't go up to 25.

3. From reading threads here, I know an all evil party requires some rework of the books, but as long as the character has a connection to Korvosa and is able to work with party members, are there issues that would preclude an evil-aligned character?

4. Any other words of wisdom?


SnowHeart wrote:

Hey all. I'm getting ready to GM this for a PbP campaign and wanted to ask for advice from folks who have already run or played through it. There may be spoilers ahead.

*snip*

4. Any other words of wisdom?

The biggest two I would suggest are:

1) They need to be invested in the town and it's people. If they don't care or are selfish, they're liable to come to the point where they say "I can just go somewhere else and let everyone die". An evil character could be even more so inclined.

2) Have some side things ready. Sometimes they may need a break from the main tale. Sometimes you may want to introduce them to other people or parts of the city. Sometimes you might just need some extra stuff if they are proceeding faster than their capabilities can keep up with. Sometimes they may go left when any sane group would go right.


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You need some way for the party to remain a cohesive whole so that they don't all go "wait, why am I hanging out with you a%@#&$&s now that Lamm is dead?" It's very easy for a party, especially a disparate party of multiple alignments and motivations, to simply shatter in the first five minutes of the AP as soon as Lamm is dead. There are several fixes for this - get a party invested in helping the city and obviously work well together, convince them that they're better off staying together, come up with a reason for them to stay together after Lamm's death due to the riots or Queen's broach, or pad some homebrew content to drag out the hunt for Lamm so that the party is used to working together by the time they finally get him.

There's nothing really stopping an evil-aligned party or singular PC, *but* you will need to take that into account when setting up the plot hooks. An evil character could certainly see the benefit of saving the city or desire to do so for one selfish end or another, but their sense of risk vs. reward before they decide to just save their own skin is going to be much lower than your average good-aligned person/group. If it's just one evil person it's likely they will stick around for safety in numbers/they know they'll be writing themselves out of the game if they leave the city. But if it's the whole group, or they just decide to be selfish knuckleheads and flee the city together, you'll have to do some fast tap-dancing to get them back into the AP/come up with something else for them to do. Even if that's a very draconian "Fine. All of your PCs are brutally killed by highwaymen just outside the city. Now make a new party that *wants* to do this AP, you idiots."

With 6-7 players, using 15 point-buy is one way to keep the overall power level of the party down. But for an individual PC, 20 point-buy opens up more options and isn't as punishing for classes that are not dependent on one single stat like wizards/clerics.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Duamatef wrote:
SnowHeart wrote:

Hey all. I'm getting ready to GM this for a PbP campaign and wanted to ask for advice from folks who have already run or played through it. There may be spoilers ahead.

*snip*

4. Any other words of wisdom?

2) Have some side things ready.

As far as side things go, Acadamae of Secrets and The House On Hook Street both take place in Korvosa. Their timing might take a little massaging, but the can be used to explore other aspects of Korvosa beyond the usual CotCT path.

-Skeld


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Thanks all. I'm likely to push for backstories with roots/connections to Korvosa, but I'm also thinking some pre-established relationships with some NPCs or even intraparty may be a good idea.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

The commander of the guard could be closer to LN, or even LE, than she is presented in the base AP. Have HER give the initial quest to go see "some random fortune teller, but might have some information about Lamm," and then from there have her order Lamm to be arrested. She already treats the party as mercenaries from the word go, just go with that. With the queen and the academae resitricting access to magic, she could be the only real source of magic items the party has.

When you eventually meet the leader of the theives late in the AP, it might be interesting if she turns out to be in his pay. Or even his secret boss.

Also, if Lamm is not appropriate for your players, another possibility is the circle of druids that lives near Korvosa's dock. Use the same map, some people from the NPC codex, and done.


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An issue I had with my group was that one player in particular had big issues in working for the guard, even though I explicitly told him prior to starting the campaign that I wanted characters that were open to that kind of thing. He also tried to incite riots during the more intense anarchy scenes, such as right after they emerged from Gaedren's den and during Trinia's execution. So, I would watch out for that kind of thing unless you specifically prepare for it, unlike me.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
SnowHeart wrote:

Hey all. I'm getting ready to GM this for a PbP campaign and wanted to ask for advice from folks who have already run or played through it. There may be spoilers ahead.

1. Any sort of "trigger" issues I should flag for potential players? I read about Gaedren and Gobblegut and read in one thread this AP messed with some players heads. I don't want to start this and then have people dropping out because they're having issues with the content.

2. I'm leaning towards starting the PbP campaign with 6-7 players, expecting 2 to drop out. With that in mind, what kind of point buy would you suggest? I've usually done 20 but am debating 15. I won't go up to 25.

3. From reading threads here, I know an all evil party requires some rework of the books, but as long as the character has a connection to Korvosa and is able to work with party members, are there issues that would preclude an evil-aligned character?

4. Any other words of wisdom?

One of the things that I had my players do is pick a place in the city where they live. This helps with the "Why do I care" issue that can come up, with added bonuses of leaving interesting plot hooks if some players choose certain part of the city to be from over others.

I also had all of my players choose an ethnicity if they were human or half-human. Since Korvosa as a city is a melting pot of human cultures and there is definitely a disconnect between the wealthy (mostly chelaxian) and the poor (Varisian, Shoanti, ect) it adds a cool dynamic.

As for trigger warnings, I would at least warn them that the first book deals heavily with child abuse and endangerment.

I hope this helps!


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Investment in Korvosa is paramount. Within what ever background the PC's come up with THEY must be able to find the motivation to want help the city and its citizens, if they cannot then they should a) role play their change of heart by participating in the events as they unfold or b) leave the city altogether and create a new PC with the proper motivation.

This was a very memorable campaign for me as the GM, and my players (all 7 of them) had a blast. Extra players always require special care. In combat the action economy is so much in their favor that you almost always have to make adjustments to keep things challenging. Two things I've learned over the three AP's of GM'd (all with 5 to 7 players) are

a) Economics can help a lot in balancing the situation. I did a post on the board way back demonstrating how the events of CoCT impacted the economics in Korvosa making the parties ability to procure magic items, services, etc more difficult and expensive. Also change the rewards from monetary to services or boons.

b) I often re-built the bad guys by giving them max hp, building them on a 20 or 25 point build, extra level etc. But I never increased their treasure, xp award, etc.

As far as build points go - I've always done 20 point. However, I would really love to make all my future games 15 points (I usually have 6 players and they are all very experienced). The only reason I don't is I truthfully feel it would restrict from play those classes which require half-way decent scores in more than one ability.


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Skeld wrote:
Duamatef wrote:
SnowHeart wrote:

Hey all. I'm getting ready to GM this for a PbP campaign and wanted to ask for advice from folks who have already run or played through it. There may be spoilers ahead.

*snip*

4. Any other words of wisdom?

2) Have some side things ready.

As far as side things go, Acadamae of Secrets and The House On Hook Street both take place in Korvosa. Their timing might take a little massaging, but the can be used to explore other aspects of Korvosa beyond the usual CotCT path.

-Skeld

I find PFS scenarios to be very easy to press into service as side-quests. There are a few set in and around Korvosa... and most that are set in Absalom could be moved to Korvosa with a minimum of work.

In my version of Korvosa, for example, the Jeggare Museum has had a whole lot of strange occurrances take place... which would be familiar to people who'd been to the Blakros Museum in Absalom...


Quill the Owl wrote:
As for trigger warnings, I would at least warn them that the first book deals heavily with child abuse and endangerment.

Ah, but the heroes get to dole out "justice" to the abusers. Surely that would be cathartic for some.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Haladir wrote:
Skeld wrote:
Duamatef wrote:
SnowHeart wrote:

Hey all. I'm getting ready to GM this for a PbP campaign and wanted to ask for advice from folks who have already run or played through it. There may be spoilers ahead.

*snip*

4. Any other words of wisdom?

2) Have some side things ready.

As far as side things go, Acadamae of Secrets and The House On Hook Street both take place in Korvosa. Their timing might take a little massaging, but the can be used to explore other aspects of Korvosa beyond the usual CotCT path.

-Skeld

I find PFS scenarios to be very easy to press into service as side-quests. There are a few set in and around Korvosa... and most that are set in Absalom could be moved to Korvosa with a minimum of work.

In my version of Korvosa, for example, the Jeggare Museum has had a whole lot of strange occurrances take place... which would be familiar to people who'd been to the Blakros Museum in Absalom...

This is a really good idea! I'm going to re-review some of those scenarios to see if I want to use any of them in my campaign. :)

-Skeld


I added in Prince of Augustana from PFS to fill a session during book 1 when a few players were missing. It worked out fairly well, and it even left my players wondering when they first heard about the "Emperor of Old Korvosa".


I don't GM (or play) PFS, but I have about three dozen PFS scenarios that I will press into service as short interlude adventures or campaign plug-ins.

This isn't specific to Crimson Throne: It's usually pretty easy to sub in a campaign-relevant quest-giver for the Venture-Captain, and to tweak the the scenario a little to sync up with your campaign.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm planning on running Academy of Secrets as a prologue to Crimson Throne. My major complaint about Book 1 is that the PCs have exactly one scene to experience Korvosa before it all goes to Hell, and I really feel like they need to know what the city's status quo is before it gets wrecked by the death of King Eodred II. I plan on having several important people at The Breaching Festival - Queen Ileosa Arabasti, of course, along with Togomor and Sabina Merrin in the royal box, and the Arkonas could also make an appearance. The Sable Company can fly overhead, and Captain Kressida Kroft can be on site to make sure security is good and tight. After that, I haven't quite decided who else would show up, but those are the people I'd like to showcase. Maybe Zenobia Zenderholm (the Archbanker is far too busy to attend, setting up his casual antagonism to the heroes in Seven Days to the Grave).

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