Running Plaguestone, short on prep time - any tips? [Probable Spoilers]


Advice


I'm running Fall of Plaguestone soon, but my book only just arrived last night (Australia QQ). I've had time to skim read the beginning and some of the gazeteer & characters, but feel wildly unprepared for setting up any kind of mystery.

So, any advice on the key beats I should hit for the first session to lay the groundwork? What's important to know about the encounters/story?

Thanks!


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Frames Janco wrote:

I'm running Fall of Plaguestone soon, but my book only just arrived last night (Australia QQ). I've had time to skim read the beginning and some of the gazeteer & characters, but feel wildly unprepared for setting up any kind of mystery.

So, any advice on the key beats I should hit for the first session to lay the groundwork? What's important to know about the encounters/story?

Thanks!

I'm assuiming you'll read the summary on page 3, so that said, the beats in my game were as follows:

Caravan trip - let the players introduce themselves, bit of roleplay. Introduce the other Caravan NPCs. (there's a typo where they look to have changed an NPCs name but missed one instance, don't let it confuse you)

Fight wolves. - if your players are decent spray them with acid straight up if needed. They can kill the big wolf in one go, and they should get to see it in action to really get an idea of something weird is up.

Arrive in town - Bort goes to run an errand, don't let them follow him.

In the feedmill - Hallod is there, they get to see him be a jerk, but he leaves, don't let them fight or follow him. They should see the goblin Phinick, probably don't let them question him too much at this point.

Dinner - Bort tells stories. There's a section in the book with outlines of the stories he tells for you to embelish.

Bar brawl - players might step in, might not, doesn't really matter.

Bort dies eating dessert - Investigation begins. Several people aren't here at the point that Bort dies (Trin, Phinick are the main candidates). The PCs probably wont notice, but you should skim this section to be aware of who they are, because they will want to speak to those people immediately.

I ended my first session here. (about 3.5 hours)

From here the players can go a bunch of different places. Mine went that night to Trin's house, and then the Orchard the next morning. If they go to bed and then are a bit slower, you'll probably have a chance to do the tour of town bit first.

Hope that helps.

If you don't have time to read the book, but have a commute or something where you can listen, there's at least one actual play podcast you could listen to as well.


That is all super helpful - exactly what I was after. Thank you so much for your time!

Scarab Sages

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vagabond_666 wrote:

Bar brawl - players might step in, might not, doesn't really matter.

Bort dies eating dessert - Investigation begins.

It is during the brawl that players can start becoming aware of suspects. I think it’s worthwhile to describe some of the blow by blow, like Phinick taking off, Delma leaving, Trin getting hit with a mug and running out, Sir Lawren bolting as soon as the fight starts. Without introducing them to the staff and locals—Edra as they arrive, Delma, Phinick and Amora when they enter the Feedmill (have Delma get them settled in rooms so they can freshen up, this will keep them busy while Bort takes off), and Trin, the other server, the bard, the farmer, and Lawren before and during the brawl—they’re not going to know where to start their investigation. After the brawl, you can have the sheriff scold some people and talk to Bort, and when they get back to the table the servers are trying to get service back on track and dessert is waiting for them.

I created pages I could cut into cards that had their picture on front, their blurb on back. The most important thing is to introduce them to all the NPCs. After that, they’ll find one of them that seems most suspicious, and start wherever they want. It doesn’t matter where.

You may find they don’t find certain leads enticing. My group wanted to talk to the sheriff, Delma, the cook and the people who ran off, except Lawren. They also did the tour at Delma’s request. They were very interested in finding Phinick. So whenever you think they’re winding down on the leads, introduce the chase with Phinick. My group skipped a couple encounters because it was clear they weren’t interested in talking to certain NPCs; once they catch Phinick, the cat is out of the bag and they’ll be on the way to Hallod’s.

Part 1 took about 6.5 hours.


That's all very valuable insight. Thanks for sharing. I was thinking a similar thing with the NPC cards so they can keep an inventory of who's available to talk to. I might do that for the next session.

One thing I'm worried about is introducing Hallod as they enter the Feedmill. If we're setting him up as a bit of a jerk, I feel my players will probably attach any malfeasance to him (knowing what they're like).

Is there any risk if they want to go investigate him as a lead from the get go?

Thanks again!

Liberty's Edge

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I created post it notes with the major important things as noted by others and two notes with character names and some of their personally traits and who they are. Pulled out unique minis and used dice to represent the drunk farmers. A little gaming paper doodle later I had my tavern/inn that could accommodate just barely enough space and things to break/throw around.

If it helps, use block init and have a few rowdy events/attacks and actions lined up for the important NPCs that fit with their role while just rolling bulk inaccurate non-lethal attacks spread over the whole room to keep it simple.

Also, save one story for after the fight to keep the party engaged with Bort during the dessert.

Shadow Lodge

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I am in the preliminary stages of putting this together - I won’t be running it for a month or two yet. Already though, I’ve identified a few tweaks I think are needed for the first act. Essentially, the PCs need to have more of a connection to Bort before his demise. The PCs need to fire up at the injustice of his murder and be highly motivated to find out who did it. And the PCs need to have some suspects straight away; have several directions straight off the bat. I’ve got a few ideas and will write them up on these boards when I’ve worked it all out. I’m preparing for a darker more dramatic treatment of the material compared to the lighter and more comic approach in the module.

I can certainly recommend The Danger Club Podcast and the Roll for Combat Podcast as something to listen to in regards to The Fall of Plaguestone. As a preliminary prep, these will help you work out what is going to work for your group and what scene moments you want to nail.


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Turnips. Oh and more turnips.

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