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I’ve been prepping the end of Thrushmoor Terror and planning ahead to Dreams of the Yellow King and I’m a bit confused.
Massive spoilers follow - you have been warned!
At the end of DotYK the PCs, after long and arduous adventure in the Dreamlands, learn that:
- Lowls sacrificed their minds in the oasis of the Mad Poet;
- Lowls is seeking a forgotten city called Neruzavin;
- Neruzavin is the prison of Xhamen-Dor;
- Lowls intends to free Xhamen-Dor to become his champion;
- Lowls is looking for the Necronomicon in order to complete the last leg of his journey to
- the Necronomicon is kept in the Mysterium in the Qadiran city of Katheer.
So, that’s all lovely...except they find out pretty much all of this at the end of book 2: The Thrushmoor Terrror!
Well, the note from Miacknian Mun in the library at Iris Hill (F3) reveals that Lowls is looking for the Necronomicon, and where it is. The library also contains a number of books that "contain information that could help the PCs figure out more about what has happened to them and about the Count’s destination if they spend time reading through them.” These include Lowls journals that "contains the Dreamlands excursion occult ritual".
Then, in the Master Bedroom (F10) we have a "disorderly stack of handwritten notes, drafted by Lowls in the immediate aftermath of his dream journeys. The last note mentions the Mad Poet, who told the count to look for a book called the Necronomicon.” And ïn the note, Lowls mentions the PCs as his companions in this revelatory dream and says that 'the sacrifice of their minds’ put them into ‘ a fugue state, but they lived unable to remember their lives or react to outside stimuli'
A DM who hasn't forensically studied the subsequent books is likely to think this is a good place to give an exposition of the count's plans as laid out in the adventure background of Book 2, especially as it is likely - is it not - that the Count would have mentioned the forgotten city, his plans to find and release Xhamen-Dor who he has obsssessed about in order to become its champion, and the identity of the lost city finally revealed to him by the Mad Poet.
So other than a very cool adventure to while away their time as they travel along the Selen to Cassomir, what really is the point of Dreams of the Yellow King?
Am I missing something?
They have only brief mentions of much of that info. Until they talk to the Yellow King they only have a bare outline of what Lowls had planned. Having just finished this segment the PCs definitely go a more cohesive understanding of who the players are and what is happening.
Specifically Xhamen-dor's roll only becomes clearer in this book, which is major information and the PCs also get their memories back. The last one certainly justifies the entire trek.
I disagree. The way the module is written, much if not all of this information could fall into the PCs hands by the end of Book 2. In fact, some of it does not even fit with the timeline of the adventure path and should not be there at all...
I've re-written much of this section to take into account these issues, set up the next two books and tie my PC's backstories into the adventure. At the same time I have retained the relevance and importance of undertaking the dreamland quests as they don't have any of the key information that they will gain by completing the Dreamlands section of book 3. They are therefore motivated to journey to the Dreamlands and thus also recover their memories.
I will post these in this thread for others to use if they wish.
The journals and notes that Lowls left behind are not specific about his ultimate destination of Neruzavin, and as I recall, may not even directly mention Xhamen-Dor. Dealing with the Mad Poet gives a lot more specific details in both those respects. Moreover, the dream quests enable them to *actually regain their memories*.
The note from Miacknian in TTT should be altered, though--perhaps to establish that they need the Necronomicon, but don't know where it is.
Agree with everyone else - Xed-Ded doesn't get mentioned by name (for good reasons, considering how bad knowing even the name is), but the true climax of DotYK is the PCs getting their memories back, which might be a bigger deal if you removed all of their memories, rather than just the last few years or so - in any case, learning how they came to work for Lowls, what their past was like, and what they actually did (i.e. were either violent a#@~!&@s or actually very evil people depending on how you run it) is absolutely the emotional climax of a whole arc! And it's based entirely around characters and their personal storyline development, which is practically unheard of in a lot of Paizo's APs.
I look at the whole of Strange Aeons in two parts - part one is getting the PCs' memories back, and part two is getting revenge on Lowls/saving the world, depending on how heroic your characters are. The end of DotYK is basically the end of act 2 of a movie, when they suddenly learn just how bad of people they were and are re-focused on their ultimate goal - murdering the guy that made them that way!
In that way, Strange Aeons is weirdly the most character-focused AP that I've ever played or ran - as long as the players are on board, this AP lends itself so well to shocking personality twists and developments, and one of the biggest opportunities for that is getting their memories back at the end of DotYK. Seriously, this is actually my favorite module of the AP.
(I also inserted a lot of elements about how the PCs had been in the dreamlands before, which is hopefully also lending some rising tension towards them actually getting their memories back - the AP's a little vague, but I think it's implied that the PCs have gone to the dreamlands a few times with Lowls).
Since my group can't meet that frequently and it's taking about a year per book, I decided to skip DotYK almost entirely (they did a couple of the dream quests) and move the action forward to Okeno, two thirds of the way through WooT. I don't feel like any of us missed that much but by that time only two of the original PCs remained so there wasn't a lot of development wrapped up in the re-acquisition of memories.