Question for GM who's already made it past the citadel


Age of Ashes


So, my party encountered the grauladon. They didn't even start to fight it. They just ran, and decided to explore the rest of the citadel. They heard Calmont arguing with the goblins (none of them speak goblin), but decided to come back later. They ended up resting the night. They went back toward the middle of the citadel. This time I had them hear goblins whimpering and crying. By now, Calmont had killed several of them, and was killing them one at a time until one of them talked.
They decided to leave and come back later. They rested overnight again.
So... what should I do? By now I'm sure either most (or all) of the goblins are dead. Or at least Calmont escaped. My group didn't seem to care about it.


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I think an easy solution is to have Helba give up the location of the secret entrance and to have the PCs encounter him below. Either caught by Cinderclaws as an oddity or stymied by the birds in the entry hall.

Just leave Helba alive but hurt, telling them where he went. And forever damage their reputation with Warbal, Breachill, and the like.

Edit: Their job was to go rescue the goblins. They shouldn't be getting a full reward, either, in my mind.


I agree with Ruzza. Show them there is some punishement for waiting over and over, but not at the cost of the story


Yea. I didn't mind at first. Because i figured looking for another way up the stairs was valid.
But to spend the night. Then spend the night again. And then say, "Eh, we'll go up there later.."
Sheesh. There has to be some repercussions.

Thanks for the advice.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Kill all the goblins and inform them they're s$~%ty heroes


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End the campaign, find new players who like to play heroes...


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I think it would be a good idea to ask your players what they're looking for in this campaign. Obviously I'm working with incomplete information here, but if they're deliberately ignoring their objective, you and they are not on the same page.

For instance, if they want to play through Age of Ashes as a comedy of errors, and you're ok with running it like that, there's nothing wrong with that! But if they play like it's slapstick while you try to make a serious narrative, no one is going to be happy.

Or maybe this is an expectations issue. If your players have a video game mind set, expecting the plot to wait for them indefinitely is not surprising.

Or maybe I'm totally overthinking all of this. Probably that. Either way, it may be worth asking everyone out of character what they expected to happen when they abandoned the people they were supposed to save.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
ToiletSloth wrote:

I think it would be a good idea to ask your players what they're looking for in this campaign. Obviously I'm working with incomplete information here, but if they're deliberately ignoring their objective, you and they are not on the same page.

For instance, if they want to play through Age of Ashes as a comedy of errors, and you're ok with running it like that, there's nothing wrong with that! But if they play like it's slapstick while you try to make a serious narrative, no one is going to be happy.

Or maybe this is an expectations issue. If your players have a video game mind set, expecting the plot to wait for them indefinitely is not surprising.

Or maybe I'm totally overthinking all of this. Probably that. Either way, it may be worth asking everyone out of character what they expected to happen when they abandoned the people they were supposed to save.

Yeah, that's probably the correct answer. It is more fun to come up with in game consequences, but thats rarely the best way to handle these things. This is a game that expects the players to bravely venture into the unknown without much prompting and answer the call to adventure and heroics. If your players are going to outright ignore the people they were sent to save, it won't work.

In game, I dunno how you'd continue now. The Bumblebrashers should probably be dead, unless they managed to overpower Calmont and throw him to to the dragon in the courtyard, but Helba should be dead then and the goblins should be much less likely to trust the PCs. Neither will the people of Breachill for that matter. Heck, I don't think Alak should. I don't think he would have stood for camping while their are people who need saving. Or heck, what about Warble? The assumption written into the book is that she watches the camp for the party. I'd assume she'd ask for reports and be quite alarmed that the party didn't immediately investigate the noises.

I suppose the goblins would still be grateful to be rescued from the dragon monster, and still want the cultists out of their home. They might not be in a good state to remember details like Big Bumble though. The other alternative is Calmont gets the info about the door from them and then leaves it open because he's an idiot. That runs the risk of letting the Cinderclaws loose on Breachill, which be deviating pretty far from the script but might be a nice guilt trip if the party can understand the cause and effect of their decision.


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Do your players actually remember their objective is finding/saving the goblins? I have had groups in the past that honestly didn't pay that much attention to the "mission briefing" part of the adventure in order to hurry up and get to "the good part" where they get to explore dungeons and kill monsters.

Too late now, clearly, but if they start to go too far off-script, it's worth hitting the pause button and asking them, "What's your objective here?"* If they don't remember, remind them! If they do and they just don't care, then, yeah, they may not be up for this particular campaign; they may rather go murder-hobo through a dungeon just for the loot and grins.

Fwiw, I'm running two tables through this AP. In one, their objection is to save the goblins; in the other, Alak showed up at the Call to Heroes asking for someone to locate his family ring. They're actually both super-focused on finding the goblins, even though the second table has no reason to believe they're in danger, because the council emphasized they didn't want to stir up trouble with the residents, so they want to find the gobins first and get permission to search the citadel for the ring.

*:
I actually did this once in a homebrew. The players were getting sidetracked with their own agendas and playing pranks on one another, and I paused and asked the question. Their response was, ".....uuuuh." And I said, "Okay, end of the campaign. The world ended because you didn't care enough to pay attention. Who's running next game?" (Clearly, I had been getting fed up with their shenanigans for a while, but I honestly did end the campaign there. I had no intention of going through that much work for them not to care about it.)


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

That's also a fair point. I find myself reminding players of details more often than I would like, but a game can get really off track otherwise.


Joana wrote:

Do your players actually remember their objective is finding/saving the goblins? I have had groups in the past that honestly didn't pay that much attention to the "mission briefing" part of the adventure in order to hurry up and get to "the good part" where they get to explore dungeons and kill monsters.

About half of my group is like that.

Alak's thing said he mainly cared about finding his family's ring. But CM's thing about Alek not standing for it could work.

It is day 3. But day 3 just started. We ended the session right after they woke up, decided to ignore the whimpers, and continue on to the north and find more treasure and loot.

So if I wanted day 2 to have been when several goblins died. Day 3 would be when they all die. But it's still early in the day. So maybe Alak could have severe distaste for them ignoring the goblins' cries?

In the room to the north near the warg, the halfling monk found a book that the adventure says Alak would greatly appreciate getting back, and the group would get xp for it.
When he found it, he didn't announce his find. And he said as a player, "I bet Alek would like to have this. But from the looks of him, he doesn't really have any money or anything. So I'm going to hang on to it so I can sell it to some hellknights with more money."

If this tells you anything about the group...


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I honestly don't see (on the morning of day 3) how the goblins aren't all dead. But I think Helba might be left for dead, and Calmont is down below.
Or she's the last one left, and he's taking his time tormenting her.
Similar to what Ruzza suggested.

I think there are going to have to be 2 or 3 goblins in cages down below, or else she doesn't even have a clan anymore. Because, ya know, they're all dead.

Dark Archive

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They do sound like kinda boring players for me :p I mean thats lots of selfishness


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yeesh, at this rate they will probably join the Scarlet Triad.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

My thing is that the goblins were talking. Maybe he kills the leader before he realizes this, goes to the secret entrance and gets killed by some birds. They could find the open secret entrance and his body. Goblins are a wreck and warbles doesn't like the party anymore. It also decreases their reward.

My party had ignored the sounds of aleck fighting and the next day found him dying from the spear trap.

Dark Archive

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Idea...

You could have Alak kill the graudalon AND free the goblins. They now trust him, but not the PCs.

So, he drives the quest from this point. Telling them that he thought he needed their help to find his family’s ring, but that he isn’t sure. He makes a point of telling them how they have dishonored themselves, and failed at the mission they undertook.

Perhaps Calmont escaped, maybe not,

Anyway, you are probably far past this, but these are my 2 cp worth.


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My players took an extra day to get to Helba, but not for lack of trying. It was because they were almost TPKed by the giant bat and headed back to town to heal up after having their bacon saved by Alak. When they returned the next day they found the goblins, but Calmont wasn't there. He killed one of them to force Helba to reveal the secret door's location (RIP Yippie Bumblebrasher). They eventually found Calmont being digested inside the gelatinous cube.

They received all relevant rewards because they honestly tried their best, but the system was still new to them and that near-TPK was a good lesson to them on what to expect in combat. It also revealed to them the importance of healing between fights.

Horizon Hunters

Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:

In the room to the north near the warg, the halfling monk found a book that the adventure says Alak would greatly appreciate getting back, and the group would get xp for it.

When he found it, he didn't announce his find. And he said as a player, "I bet Alek would like to have this. But from the looks of him, he doesn't really have any money or anything. So I'm going to hang on to it so I can sell it to some hellknights with more money."

If this tells you anything about the group...

My bard kept it secret even from the rest of the party, and then when Alak found them looting graves pulled it out and said "Hey, is this yours?" which deflected his attention enough that they could relax him.

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