The Key-Lock Killer (Book 1 & 2 spoilers)

Curse of the Crimson Throne

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I've just started running the AP, and when looting Gaedren's cache, the party latched on to the key shaped blade, which one of them recognised as being like the one used by the Key-Lock Killer. Obviously, that will turn out to be Gaedren's son, Rolth, sometime during book 2.

Given their interest in this, I want to do a bit more foreshadowing of Rolth's appearance, and seed some clues as to his relationship to Gaedren. My hope is that it gives the party more of a reason to stay together than just getting a job with the guard.

Has anyone else done this, or have any ideas on what I could do? Maybe Rolth could begin taunting the party, or leaving messages for them, somehow? I'm a bit unsure of what I can do that will build up the PCs for the eventual encounter with Rolth, without sending them on a complete tangent, away from the main plot.

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The book already has some good methods of foreshadowing Rolth (at least in the anniversary edition). For example, he takes Gaedren's body and reanimates it as a skeleton, which the players find in the fight against Vreeg. There's also the fight with Jolistina in book 2 where Rolth directly sends her to the manor.

Of course, you can always have Zellara's reading mention Rolth indirectly. "The figure you seek lurks in the shadows, plotting not only your deaths, but the death of Korvosa."

Edit: He's also a wizard. They might discover a scrying sensor spying on them one day.

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Thanks, those are good points. I was planning to have Gaedren's animated corpse in the dead warrens. I'll probably play up the imagery of the key blades in there too, so that they'll hopefully make the connection between the two.

Good idea about Zellara, I'll try to build that into her reading at the start of Seven Days to the Grave.

I figured scrying would be how he'd find out about the PCs, especially if they're still carrying the dagger. Having them discover that he's using that to spy on them could be fun. Although with the Raktavarna playing a similar role of desirable-item-that-is-actually-evil, it might be a bit much. Or it could cause even more chaos and confusion and be great...

Hmm. Thanks for the help, the ideas are starting to form!

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If you're interested in some additional flavor, he gets mentioned in Horror Realms alongside some other in-universe serial killers, such as the Temple Hill Slasher and Jervis Stoot, with the in-universe author hypothesizing about "pattern killers."

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PannicAtack wrote:
If you're interested in some additional flavor, he gets mentioned in Horror Realms alongside some other in-universe serial killers, such as the Temple Hill Slasher and Jervis Stoot, with the in-universe author hypothesizing about "pattern killers."

Wow, that article was amazing (pages 2 & 3 of Horror Realms, if anyone else is looking for it). And since it was written in-character as a journal by a Varisian scholar, I think my PCs might just be finding it in the Dead Warrens...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Glad folks are enjoying the creepy intro I created for Horror Realms. The concept of a mysterious "Pattern" is something I've been doing a slow burn on for many years now in Golarion stuff... and I just snuck a little bit more info into the Book of the Damned hardcover, so keep your eyes out for it! Mwa ha ha!

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The idea that you can ascend (descend?) to some greater demonic power by murdering people to solve some kind of mystery is as disturbing as it is intriguing. Looking forward to finding out more, could be a good plot hook if Rolth survives beyond book 2.

Thanks for the info, James!

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I managed to massage my PCs into capturing Lamm and turning him over to the Guard. So we got an additional encounter wherein they assisted the Guard in a prisoner transfer, which included Lamm, Vancaskerkin, and some people they didn't know, from Volshyenek to The Longacre Building. There was an attack by Fast Zombies, a couple Pugwumpis, and a speedy little hard to see Fey which tried to break the prisoners out. A line from the fey after all his "buddies" were killed on his way out indicated that "Rolth underestimated them." That was my first foreshadowing of Rolth after the Dagger.

Given the information about the Longacre Building that came out in the updated hardcover CotCT, I used the Derro connection to have Gaedrenn become one of the unknown escapees. So the PCs found him in Rolth's bedroom, grousing at the zombie of Hookshanks Grueler. I didn't get much more foreshadowing here, as after doing the lawful thing earlier, my PCs went nuts and massacred Gaedrenn the second time.

I feel I've gotten a fair chunk of Rolth foreshadowing going.

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In my game, Lamm fell victim to his pet alligator: I followed the suggestion of randomly attacking, and as Lamm made a run for it with 3 hp left, the dice turned against him and Gobblegut got a good meal. The PCs lost some loot, though... I still intend to have his corpse be present in the Dead Warrens, stitched together by Rolth and reanimated, perhaps with a few replacement parts.

My party has now changed its focus to helping the guards, we finished up last night just as they confronted Verik and the last of the Cow Hammer Boys. The Dead Warrens is probably soon enough for me to drop more Key-Lock Killer hints.

Has anyone had it go the other way and have their group acquire the key shaped dagger and be intent on trying to investigate that right from book 1?

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Actually I started looking on the board specifically because my group has latched onto the key shaped dagger and a Mesmerist in the party has been investigating it with Psychometry. I wanted to see what ideas everyone else had before I wrote my own.

So far my party found the first key shaped dagger in Gaedrenn's trunk in the fishery and when he used Psychometry he saw a shadowy figure talking to Gaedrenn. Since then the party has made it to the Dead Warrens and found the zombified Gaedrenn (which they killed and took his head this time). This time though they've really got interested in the broken key shaped knife and now I'm not sure where I want to take them with it.

Cressida has already told them what she knows about Rolth in the Event 13: Missing Body mission briefing on Pg. 43 of the Anniversary edition, so they know his name, that he's Gaedrenn's son, that he was kicked out of the Academae, and that Cressida suspects him of a number of murders. As they search through the Dead Warrens I have plans for clues that will point to his relationship with the Derro being tenuous (notes in Vreeg's spellbook hinting at his plan to overthrow Rolth), and was thinking of them finding some notes and letters that points to connections with the cult of Urgotha and possibly some others who are the buyers of the constructs he's been building.

I even stumbled across a happy little idea when the Oracle in my game rolled a knowledge religion check on the dagger and while I was looking around for something he might find out was reminded that a key is the Symbol of Abadar. I ended up giving him all the details of Abadar's symbol, but only said that he didn't recall any specific practices, customs or rituals among the followers of Abadar that involved a key shaped knife specifically. That said, I was kind of thinking how I could connect Rolth's motivations to the church of Abadar somehow. Perhaps as some kind of act of blasphemy because of some dislike or hatred Rolth has for the church early in his past, but like I said, I wanted to see what ideas were already floating around before I committed to this one.

I'm kinda intrigued by the notion of serial killers trying to find a pattern with there murders to unlock some kind of evil power. I'll have to try to get a copy of Horror Realms to find out more. It does remind me of how a certain evil force in the campaign has been influencing artists and others for its own purposes. Perhaps Rolth was also influenced by this force much like some other characters later in the book which contributed to his direction down his dark path.

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