I'm preparing to run this AP for the third time, but this time I want to shake things up. How you guys would rewrite the start of this AP?
I love Shackled City, but the first 3 chapters are too similar in several aspects:
Chapter 1: A 100+ room dungeon beneath the city.
Chapert 2: Another dungeon beneath the city.
Chapter 3: Some travel beyond cauldron and then another dungeon beneath the city.
I love Jzadirune. It has the most personality out of any dungeon that I've seen, but I feel like it is a damn long crawl.
Has anyone ever rewritten the start to be more investigative in nature than a simple dungeon crawl? What about the dungeons, anyone ever try a reduced version of them?
|Oliver von Spreckelsen|
I have built a prelude before the actual start of the adventure to bring my group to Cauldron and forge them into a unit before the actual start of the campaign.
You can start as a caravan on its way to Cauldron (from Sasserine). The caravan is ambushed by a group of slave traders and also trying to isolate Cauldron. Afterwards the caravan hits upon the remnants of another caravan. The group used the tracks from the bandits to follow them to a hidden temple (i.e. "Thieves in the Forest" by Atlas Games). They have a last night in the Lucky Monkey before they reach the city itself. This is a means to foreshadow the organization working against the establishment in Cauldron, the massive abductions taking place in and around Cauldron and to bring the group together before they reach Cauldron.
What I did beforehand was a Play-by-Email with each separate character to establish his way to Cauldron where I was able to tie the histories of nearly every character together into one cohesive background (having some characters seeing another as they left and entered a compound right before a lockdown occured because the leader was murdered). This way the group had a wonderful evening relating their tales to each other and recognizing that they were all following the same shipment of healing elixir (several casks of the concoction from a magical pool in an elven wood) to Cauldron. I just had to sit back and enjoy the narrations. The shipment is of course a MacGuffin used by the main antagonist in the town for his "experiments".
Upon arriving in the town the group is sent to the sheriff, who reminds them: If the groups makes trouble in the city, they are in real trouble from the guard.
I had a second group with some characters stationed in Cauldron and some arriving from somewhere else. I had to use the initial encounter to bring them together in the assault. I used the Thieves' Guild and the city guard as a threat to all of them to pressgang the characters into a group. But it is necessary to have the town come alive around the characters when the group returns from the dungeon to rest, heal up and sell their loot. The adventurer's shop is a godsend, together with a natural rivalry with the other group of adventurers that stems from a night in the tavern where the rival group uses some racial slurs to rile the characters up against them (especially because the chracaters had a Half-Orc and [a pixie posing as] a halfling with wings attached to his armor among them).
Use the mercenaries from Drakthar's Way to put a stranglehold on the town by assaulting every caravan to (and from) Cauldron. Use the traits to foreshadow the plane of Occipitus, its downfall and the overall bad guy of the campaign (via dreams), if you want to have your campaign cotniue after the battle with the Cagewrights. Use the Striders to make the group aware of the Cagewrights as early as possible. Use the vice mayor to help the group and introduce them into the upper class of the city and the movers and shakers of the surrounding area. He will have a close eye on them.
|Oliver von Spreckelsen|
My third try was a Play by Post on these forums (more than 10 years ago), but that lasted not long enough to reach the start of the campaign itself. (I had to stop that campaign due to my work and my additional tasks as a member of the German translation team for Pathfinder)