Trail of the Hunted (GM Reference)


Ironfang Invasion

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christian kramer wrote:

I want to recreate the map of Phaedra with the intention of making it appear to have more buildings and slightly less like a cul-de-sac.

It doesn't make sense for any group in a town that is under siege by hundreds of troops to say "well let's do the loop around the only road in town". It makes sense for them to say "holy crap, lets skulk out the back through these alleyways and try to help any people we can on the way.

Am I railroading them by putting all 4 of the target buildings along the sensible path towards the bridge? Do you think the AP was designed for them to never really hit all 4 buildings in the first place?

I am preparing to start running this AP for next week, Friday November 2nd. It occurred to me that the biggest factor in making this seem like a denser town is the fact that the Market festival is current going on- to my thinking, the market green should be full to overflowing with tents, wagons and hardwall stalls that have been set up for the market, completely removing that big clear view across town.

This means that when the Onyx Tower appears, it's in the middle of crowds of people meandering and eating festival food, totally unprepared for a bunch of soldiers to start pouring out. It also answers the question of "Wait, the PCs seriously didn't notice an invasion going on outside the thin walls of Phaendar's cheap buildings?" The Tower is under a hundred feet from the edge of the market green in any direction. Hobgoblins could be pounding down the door within three rounds of their arrival.

I don't think it seem as if the AP was designed for them not to hit all four locations, but definitely to force the party to prioritise what and who they care most about saving. As written, it is at least suggested that the party might spend a pleasant market day before the action begins, and that thay probably settle on a starting location together, whether in or out of character.

I've got a player curveball as well, that I thought would be useful to people getting ready to run. Similar to Borensoren's Ratfolk, one of my players is from a caravan of Catfolk merchants who have brought their wagons for the market. As a result, I have created a fifth location with its own Primary NPC- the Catfolk encampment, on the southern edge of the Market Green, between Oreld's and the Trading Post. This is where the party will almost definitely elect to start, over the Inn.

As far as I'm concerned, this does nothing to change the 4-location track. I've given it a resource track similar to the other locations, and added a fifth slot to all locations- visited fifth, any given location has no refugees, only a small provision count and a hobgoblin encounter, and signs of a struggle. It does, however, mean I'll be preparing some alternative dialogue- assuming the party starts there, they'll be witness to the thunderous tearing of earth and rending of booths and tents as the Spire arises, and will have the first encounter as a crit from a heavy crossbow bolt takes Aubrin from between two wagons, instead of having a door kicked in.

I definitely plan to run a session zero to get some inter-party interaction beforehand, but had prepared a secondary handout for my players alongside the Players' Guide, giving a brief rundown on the key NPCs from areas A-D, so the three PCs I have backstory from have actually already accounted for prior relationships with those NPCs. Depending on what my fourth and fifth players bring to the table, it might be a short day at the market, or as long as a half-day escort for a wagonload of goods that Oreld was expecting a day prior, which has broken a wheel down the road.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

So im feeling really stupid and like I've missed something everyone else got.
But for the Visiting order for the locations in part 1, why if there this odd dependency between the starting order and the first order?
The starting order seems to have a lower value than the first order and I can't seem to rationalize it.
Im guessing its some calculation based off replacing the first encounter with The Fangs are Bared and this would explain why the provisions are lower as I assume you add on the 5 you get from the replaced encounter.

But why and from where are we suddenly amassing additional people?
To my mind I would have thought the people that are there would be there whether the party starts at this location or not. In fact I would almost expect the starting order to have more people as I would have assumed some people might die in the initial attack without the party there, like in the Riverwood Shrine, where we are told a dozen bodies lie there when the PC's visit.

As I said im sure this has a simple answer that I've either missed or over thought :)
So could someone please enlighten me


Einherjar101 wrote:

But why and from where are we suddenly amassing additional people?

To my mind I would have thought the people that are there would be there whether the party starts at this location or not. In fact I would almost expect the starting order to have more people as I would have assumed some people might die in the initial attack without the party there, like in the Riverwood Shrine, where we are told a dozen bodies lie there when the PC's visit.

As I said im sure this has a simple answer that I've either missed or over thought :)
So could someone please enlighten me

Half right, yeah- the rationale seems to be that while the party is relaxed at their starting location, the Ironfangs are just arriving. Most people in Phaendar are still out enjoying the festivities. Once the army marches into town, people start to run for cover wherever they think is safe, which brings the numbers of townsfolk up. After that, they start dying off, and the numbers dwindle.

Similar with Provisions, I think the party's own food and drink are being left uncounted among provisions at the starting area, and folks ducking for cover are bringing what they have at hand, as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Malik Lucius wrote:


Half right, yeah- the rationale seems to be that while the party is relaxed at their starting location, the Ironfangs are just arriving. Most people in Phaendar are still out enjoying the festivities. Once the army marches into town, people start to run for cover wherever they think is safe, which brings the numbers of townsfolk up. After that, they start dying off, and the numbers dwindle.

Similar with Provisions, I think the party's own food and drink are being left uncounted among provisions at the starting area, and folks ducking for cover are bringing what they have at hand, as well.

I had partially gone down that thought at one point too. But then couldn't explain away why these people would avoid rushing to the area the PC's had chosen. But if we where to imagine that the PC's location is one of the first to be hit then it would actually make sense. Everyone is running away from their location and to the other places.

Thanks for the answer, this had been bugging me for a while now.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

Einherjar101 wrote:
Malik Lucius wrote:


Half right, yeah- the rationale seems to be that while the party is relaxed at their starting location, the Ironfangs are just arriving. Most people in Phaendar are still out enjoying the festivities. Once the army marches into town, people start to run for cover wherever they think is safe, which brings the numbers of townsfolk up. After that, they start dying off, and the numbers dwindle.

Similar with Provisions, I think the party's own food and drink are being left uncounted among provisions at the starting area, and folks ducking for cover are bringing what they have at hand, as well.

I had partially gone down that thought at one point too. But then couldn't explain away why these people would avoid rushing to the area the PC's had chosen. But if we where to imagine that the PC's location is one of the first to be hit then it would actually make sense. Everyone is running away from their location and to the other places.

Thanks for the answer, this had been bugging me for a while now.

Well, the Pcs are just level-1 and some may be just visiting for the festivities, so it doesn't really make sense that every townsperson would know exactly where the pcs even are at, let alone know who they are in the first place, and that the pcs would even be the most powerful people in town. And townspeople would probably run to the major location closest to where they were when the invasion began.

But of course feel free to change things that best fit your game.


Has anyone implemented Edran any more than simply just a guy who steals 2d6 provisions or whatever... Seems like the most meaningless story element.

Better yet, has anybody successfully implemented Molthune any more into their adventure early on? Even if just as a red herring?

I'm thinking about having Molthune seeing the Ironfang's rampage across the Nesmian Plains as an opportunity to make strategic advances against a distracted and disorganized enemy. Have Molthuni military sieging/occupying Tamran. It might further dissuade the PC's reaction to flee to the capital and also explain why there seems to be no reinforcements to defend the people.

Thoughts? Open to suggestions of Molthuni shenanigans.


Captain Morgan wrote:


I think the problem is you're assuming the party is going to just plod along that one road, as opposed to say, sneaking around the outer edge of the town. If you actually look closely at the map, you can see that its actually ideally laid out for sneaking around. Lots of buildings and clumps of trees to cut off line of sight, alleys to cut through, etc.

I ended up creating a custom little map that has a more compact urbanized feel with the big market circle to the southern edge. My intention was to make it seem like these 400ish hobgoblins are pouring from the south of town through the main pathways in a blitzkrieg sweep, mowing down and enslaving everyone in their path. Only the few quick Ironfang scouts were able to penetrate deeper into the north of town (hence the encounters). If the PC's try top deviate back south or towards the open plains, they are granted auto-passing perception checks to see cavalry riding town escapees in the open fields or goblin phalanxes marching through the big streets, forcing them into the shadowy alleyways. This was to create the "there's only one way to go (north across the bridge), without having an NPC say "We have to cross the bridge and flee into the woods".

As the map currently as it is, without being obviously goaded, the PCs starting in any of the 4 spots around the "cul-de-sac" could just as easily use logic to flee outside of town in the closest direction away from the obvious brand new giant evil castle right in the middle.

I also wanted the Tower to be hidden in darkness, only visible from outside of town as the PCs catch it's silhouette flickering in the firelight of their now burning hometown. During their flight, they can be thinking "okay, this is a raid, we've been through these before,we can rebound", but as they look back they think "WTF...just happened."

This was my thought process, we'll see how it plays out in a month.


Have you read books 4 and 6? Molthune plays a role in those, so you should make sure your plans jive with what needs to happen for those books.

Liberty's Edge

Hi All,

Sorry if this is a noob question; but can anyone point me to an official Paizo source for the point buy for character creation for this AP.

WIkidot is quoting 20pts; but I always thought it was 15 for all the APs but now I cant find anything from Paizo (as opposed to other people’s opinions) that states as such.

All help welcome

:-)


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

James Jacobs, Creative Director

James Jacobs, again

It really does seem like that should be printed somewhere official rather than in forum posts, but I can't find it offhand.


There was a failed attempt at taking the bridge at the start of part 1. Party has returned to gather more people from town and look like it'll have been 10 or so minutes in total since the failed attempt.

Has anyone 'reinforced' the already CR4 encounter at the bridge?

Kergri and Kur are slightly wounded from the initial encounter 16/27 and 10/17 HP respectively so that'd reduce the CR like the wounded recruits at Phaendar trading company. The players are also looking short on xp as they're skipping the shrine entirely (at this rate).

My thoughts were to bring the two recruits from the shed onto the bridge (after getting yelled at by Kergri for slacking off) and an upended cart in the center of the bridge as cover and to stop the guy on a warhorse they've seen already.

Any suggestions to handle this? i think it'd be reasonable to have 2 recruits fetch the cart within 10 mins and the difficulty shouldn't be that rough.


So I'm a couple sessions in with my group who just came across Gristledown as the first clue that the Legion finally followed them across the river after they destroyed the bridge. I was preparing to start dropping hints of the pursuit of the refugee but noticed a minor nitpick.

In the Centaur encounter I noticed that the note he carries is supposedly in Common and no one in the trog lair can read it. Or converse with any of the emissaries that Scarvinious sends out to make contact for that matter, making negotiations tough.

Is this a hand wave or an oversight on Scarvinious' part or needs to be adjusted? And if so did anybody else account for this?


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
Last Post wrote:


In the Centaur encounter I noticed that the note he carries is supposedly in Common and no one in the trog lair can read it. Or converse with any of the emissaries that Scarvinious sends out to make contact for that matter, making negotiations tough.

Is this a hand wave or an oversight on Scarvinious' part or needs to be adjusted? And if so did anybody else account for this?

Might be too late a reply for you but I'd give Ighiz Common.

There are problems with her "During Combat" section having her use "Command" but not likely speaking a language that the party understands, especially as her oracle curse would restrict her to not using Common in combat anyway. You could also swap out "Command" for "Comprehend Languages".


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erucsbo wrote:
Last Post wrote:


In the Centaur encounter I noticed that the note he carries is supposedly in Common and no one in the trog lair can read it. Or converse with any of the emissaries that Scarvinious sends out to make contact for that matter, making negotiations tough.

Is this a hand wave or an oversight on Scarvinious' part or needs to be adjusted? And if so did anybody else account for this?

Might be too late a reply for you but I'd give Ighiz Common.

There are problems with her "During Combat" section having her use "Command" but not likely speaking a language that the party understands, especially as her oracle curse would restrict her to not using Common in combat anyway. You could also swap out "Command" for "Comprehend Languages".

My take is that Common serves as Golarion's "lingua franca" and even monster races will treat with each other in Common (even more credence from the fact that goblinoids have taboos about written language, so would be unlikely to write stuff in Goblin). But giving Ighiz Common is not a bad idea, and would make a lot of sense. I made sure my players knew that Goblin, Terran, and Draconic would see a lot of use this campaign though.

Just finished my Session 2 for this AP. The PCs were not having too much trouble with the Ironfang Legion throughout Phaendar during the initial invasion, so I modified the bridge encounter a bit to raise the stakes without making it harder. Increased the hobgoblin adds from 2 to 4 and had them stumble out of the shed in the second round, at which time Kergri would bark an order for two of them to "Go get the Lieutenant! Tell him we got a whole mess o slaves tryin to run!". They take a few AoOs running past, but manage to flee the bridge area. Otherwise the encounter proceeds as normal. They down the Hobs and get to work setting the charge on the wooden support, at which point they have 5 rounds to run. On the 2nd round, Scarvinious shows up with the 2 hob adds in tow and orders them to chase down the escapees, at which point the charge blows and the bridge lists heavily. The Hobs get dumped into the river, and Scarvinious is able to introduce himself to the party by screaming at them as they flee into the woods: "I am Scarvinious and I'm gonna hunt you down and bring you skins back for my tent!"

Went quite well, I liked the idea of introducing the villain earlier and this seemed like a great way to accomplish that without it being too artificial. Now they know Scarvinious will be hunting them, as well as having a face and name for the main Book 1 villain.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
Billy Buckman wrote:
...Now they know Scarvinious will be hunting them, as well as having a face and name for the main Book 1 villain

Good idea.

For my group it was just through the notes and comments from hobgoblins they tried to interrogate.
I do think that keeping the pressure on through the rest of the this book is a tricky balancing act.


We got out into the forest. They found the dead trapper almost immediately. The Molthuni spy ran into the group at the site of the wasp encounter and their second campsite, but they believed his story, and he joined the group for now. They killed all six mites that were harassing the wolf pups. The mother survived and they just let the wolves go, and left the area. Not sure if I can bring myself to put the wolves in camp Red Jaw like the book suggests, it's so dark!

Anyway, how have other GMs managed the wilderness adventure? I'm using a hex map and using modified exploration & movement in sandbox campaigns. Hexes are 6 miles across instead of 12, take 1 1/2 days to fully explore vs 3, etc, etc. I'm wondering any tips or ideas people have for smoothly transitioning between navigating the hex map, using random encounters, and the AP encounters. I noticed the book does not have much in the way of random encounters for the southern Fangwood, so I've just been pulling from the basic Forest encounter table in the Game Mastery guide. I know in book 2 there is a random encounter table for the Fangwood, but the CRs are too high (4-9) for my Book 1 players. Did anyone find it a bit annoying that there was a whole Nesmian plains gazetteer and encounter table in an adventure that doesn't go there?


Billy Buckman wrote:

We got out into the forest. They found the dead trapper almost immediately. The Molthuni spy ran into the group at the site of the wasp encounter and their second campsite, but they believed his story, and he joined the group for now. They killed all six mites that were harassing the wolf pups. The mother survived and they just let the wolves go, and left the area. Not sure if I can bring myself to put the wolves in camp Red Jaw like the book suggests, it's so dark!

Anyway, how have other GMs managed the wilderness adventure? I'm using a hex map and using modified exploration & movement in sandbox campaigns. Hexes are 6 miles across instead of 12, take 1 1/2 days to fully explore vs 3, etc, etc. I'm wondering any tips or ideas people have for smoothly transitioning between navigating the hex map, using random encounters, and the AP encounters. I noticed the book does not have much in the way of random encounters for the southern Fangwood, so I've just been pulling from the basic Forest encounter table in the Game Mastery guide. I know in book 2 there is a random encounter table for the Fangwood, but the CRs are too high (4-9) for my Book 1 players. Did anyone find it a bit annoying that there was a whole Nesmian plains gazetteer and encounter table in an adventure that doesn't go there?

Yeah, it's annoying that you don't get tools for Fangwood stuff in book 1. Though you can port some of the encounters in pretty easily. The Glomwood was a really fun illusion trap to stumble into, which I ran based off the hell rides of the Chronicles of Amber. The Tyrant Jelly's valley made for an excellent bait for a group looking for a permanent home; just make sure you leave them an escape route because that Jelly will destroy them if they stand and fight it.

I didn't use Hexploration for my group. I instead printed out an in game calendar and planned out when I thought different events would trigger for the most fun and dramatic experience. I usually didn't try to squeeze more than 3 events into a given day, including random encounters (which weren't really random so much as stuff I had curated).

I strode to instil a sense of wonder and danger in the Fangwood, having the players often stumble upon things like a pack of forest drakes chasing a manticore or two giant stag beetles fighting for the attention of a female. Not all of these required the players to fight. What I struggled with a little bit was capturing the risk of not having a permanent home. My players got quite good at optimizing the survival subsystem and didn't feel a lot of pressure to try and take the Cradle of the Stone.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

I handwaved the details of moving through the Fangwood. When tasks were allocated to the survivors of Phaendar some were sent to scout. They came back with the encounter locations that they thought were worth the PCs checking out. I then let the PCs get to the location (implying that they were able to follow trail markings, or one of the NPCs accompanied them but then stayed back or went scouting further). Having them come across Ironfang patrol tracks from time to time (or having to hide from larger patrols) added to the danger element.


Session 4 down. They got out with 29 survivors, so the checks to forage are mostly trivial. They usually break even on provisions between the refugees' foraged food and create water spells from the casters. I ruled that if they made enough water for everyone, their provision point attrition would be halved. So far they are pretty precious with the refugees, they don't want to send them out scouting. They usually have them foraging, setting up shelter, standing guard or herding.

Today they rolled a random encounter with a giant mantis and I ruled that they could harvest 4 PP of mantis meat! They crossed paths with the H2. Ironfang Patrol hobgoblins without killing them. The rogue used the dust of illusion from Oreld's shop to appear as a hobgoblin, and managed to pass 3 bluff checks against the credulous hobgoblins, saying her name was "Bob". The only useful intel they got out of it was the name "Red Jaw" and east as a general direction, but the party still felt they weren't ready to head that way yet.

Instead they decided to move in the direction of a column of smoke they had seen to the northwest. A couple days (during which time they encountered the hob patrol and dealt with E2. Bad Water) later they arrive at the ruins of Gristledown. They deal with the shredskin and skeletons quite handily and unfortunately I don't get one of them to wear my skin :(.

They want to keep heading north, to get further away from Phaendar/the highway, which isn't a bad instinct. Unfortunately this takes them into higher CR territory and in the wrong direction from the trog caves. So my plan is this: Aubrin will be fully recovered in the next day or two and she'll inform the party of the Chernasardo redoubt in All-eye's Wood, and strongly advise them to at least check it out. I'll have the G3. Stone Child Hunting Party and H4.The Centaur encounters somewhere along the way to try and instill urgency in dealing with the trog-hob alliance.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

During our Session 0 I indicated that as this was an Adventure Path that would take characters from 1 - 18(ish) we should all agree to keep to the main story and that if things were veering too far off then I would course correct things. Not railroading, but it makes things too difficult to change on the fly later if the party is doing something other than the Ironfang Invasion Adventure Path. Everyone was on-board. If it ever becomes unenjoyable then we can stop following the adventure path and all bets are off, but that needs to be a consensus decision.
So far so good.


erucsbo wrote:

During our Session 0 I indicated that as this was an Adventure Path that would take characters from 1 - 18(ish) we should all agree to keep to the main story and that if things were veering too far off then I would course correct things. Not railroading, but it makes things too difficult to change on the fly later if the party is doing something other than the Ironfang Invasion Adventure Path. Everyone was on-board. If it ever becomes unenjoyable then we can stop following the adventure path and all bets are off, but that needs to be a consensus decision.

So far so good.

Well yeah, that's the general idea with all of the published adventure paths. Ideally, the story hooks in the AP should keep things moving in the right direction. And of course, your NPCs can... strongly exhort your PCs to follow those breadcrumbs.

That said, some veering off is always inevitable. That's why I like to read a lot the companion materials that get put out concurrent with the APs. For Ironfang, I've been reading through Lands of Conflict which has a lot of info on Nirmathas and Molthune as well as the militia rules, if you're using those. The Monster Codex as well as any materials on the fey and the Darklands have been quite helpful too. There are so many monster races in this adventure, I like to get as much info on each one so I can try and make them really memorable and distinct from one another.

I've seen people in this thread have issue with their party getting on board with basically slaughtering an entire troglodyte tribe in cold blood for their caves. My plan is to play up as much as possible the threat of the hob-trog alliance and just how bad that would be for the survivors, make sure they know these are chaotic evil creatures. They also smell horrific.

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