Jzadirune and the Malachite Hold


Shackled City Adventure Path


I am running the game for some 14 to 15 year olds, all pretty green players. My question is, as I teach them to play, one thing I should disclose is searching for secret doors. But what if they find the door to the elevator right away, and skip Jzadirune entirely? First level characters may not last long down in the Malachite Hold.

Should I make the entrance to the elevators be only the one further in the complex?

Thanks!


There are a few options (all of these are keeping in mind newer players):

( 1 ) If they find the secret door, then give them a level for by-passing Jzadirune, because it basically exists to whittle resources and provide XP to level anyway.

( 2 ) Since the players find the elevator, there's no one from Jzadirune to alert the Malachite Fortress. The Fortress, preparing for its impending slave sale and secure in its safety due to secrecy has very lax security. If and when Cauldron discovers the slave ring is literally right under its feet, Kazmojen figures it'll be a stomping detachment of city guard, not a small group of doughty adventurers (who could ever plan for those?). Perhaps have the roar of the furnace make so much noise that it obscures combat sounds. Maybe off-duty guards are in a garage band and they play really loud, also drowning out combat sounds. Allowing the lower-leveled group to take the Malachite Fortress piece-meal could make it more do-able.

* Bonus: I'd eliminate Vhalantru from the end. Allow the group to rescue him. Vhalantru can pick the child up from the orphanage later. Railroading the group should be avoided.


"1 ) If they find the secret door, then give them a level for by-passing Jzadirune, because it basically exists to whittle resources and provide XP to level anyway."

Mykull, here is my reservation for this. It leaves the skulks and creepers in possession of Ghelve's key ring, and doesn't stop them from stealing and kidnapping others later. It also doesn't rescue Starbrow.

However, if they don't go back and clean up Jzadirune, I can always have the Stormblades do it.

I do like the idea of giving them "xp" for avoiding the resource drain.

One thing I didn't mention is that I am using the playtest rules, so I intend to level them at the "speed of plot" anyway.


Given that both Xukasus and the Stone Spike will given your fresh level 1 players a ton of troubles, I would find it rather improbable for them to manage to futher proceed in the Hold without losses (which I guess you will probably try to avoid, given that they are still too fresh into D&D to start swapping characters; they will have a plethora of opportunities for that later in life).
Thus, you could teach the very, VERY valuable lesson of 'don't try your luck, for you may end up dead' that most players tend to forget most of the time.
Also, should you wish to NOT level up your players, you can always provide them with an NPC companion that will be scheduled to meet the sharp end of the Stone Spike's appendage before anyone else, thus sending your party scurrying up the elevator for safety (and some Jzadirune cleaning).


Skulks and creepers aren't going to continue a kidnapping/slavery operation once they know that:
(a) Their hide-out is discovered.
(b) Their muscle in Kazmojen and hobgoblins are dead (presumably)
(c) The Underdark buyers are unreachable because they were Kazmojen's contacts.

As for the Keygan's key ring, I think it is very plausible that Kazmojen would not allow a lackey to carry around so valuable an item when not on mission. Just place the key ring on Kazmojen's body.


Mykull wrote:

Skulks and creepers aren't going to continue a kidnapping/slavery operation once they know that:

(a) Their hide-out is discovered.
(b) Their muscle in Kazmojen and hobgoblins are dead (presumably)
(c) The Underdark buyers are unreachable because they were Kazmojen's contacts.

As for the Keygan's key ring, I think it is very plausible that Kazmojen would not allow a lackey to carry around so valuable an item when not on mission. Just place the key ring on Kazmojen's body.

There is still the Starbrow conundrum. I mean, having them look for Keygan's familiar is a reasonable reason to explore Jzadirune.


Unattended, Starbrow rocks his cage until it falls off the mimic chest. The cage breaks open and the rat makes a mad dash for it.
He escapes from the mimic room. The mimic, being well-fed and somewhat lazy, doesn't pursue. Starbrow, being within one mile of Keygan scurries towards him. All of this happens "off screen." Have the timing work out that the party meets Starbrow just as they're returning to Cauldron from the Malachite Fortress after they have cleared it out.

Speak with Animals or Keygan can relay Starbrow's story. He can tell them about the magically cursed gnome city of Jzadirune, painting it as dangerous as you like.

Alternatively, you can eliminate Jzadirune altogether, simply delete the city entirely. Place Starbrow on top of the mimic in a cell down in the Malachite Fortress in one of the Empty Cellblocks (M16 or M17). Change J3 to be a room with no doors. Make it a lounge of the Malachite Fortress where people used to wait for clearance to ride the elevator and for the elevator to arrive. Jzadirune comes up exactly zero times after Life's Bazaar, so removing it will not affect the rest of the AP one whit.

Remember, just because you know you've changed the adventure doesn't mean that the players are aware of it at all.


Jzdirune is a great adventure, although a bit too massive for low level play to my taste.

Did they not have to collect some letter keys in order to move around? I think they need all, or at least some, of the letter keys in order to navigate the complex and reach the elevator.

But if my memory fails me, you can always change that and make the elevator require some of the letters in order to activate. That effectively forces the players to explore the complex in case that's what you want.

I ran this adventure in Paizo forums, in case you want to get some ideas from there. The group was a blast.

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