Players Defeated. Now What?


Age of Ashes


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So, my last session ended with every player unconscious (but stable) in Altaerein's Vaults (Chapter 3 of Hellknight Hill... they aggroed more than intended and were ultimately defeated by the boggards and charau-kas from areas B6 and B7).

The decision was made to roll an all-new team that would be contacted by Helba, Warbal and Greta to go investigate the missing first party. The idea was that eventually the second party would rescue the first and then each player would pick between the surviving pool of PCs to make a new party.

But the question is... what happened to the first party after they were defeated? I don't want them just killed off, nor do I want them to be found bound and gagged right where they were defeated. That's too easy.

Where would you all recommend the second party find the first?

Thanks.


My recommendation is that they find them

Book 1 spoilers:
in Voz Lirayne's custody in the Goblinblood Caves. Have some of the cultists find the Goblinbloood caves while looking for a way to reunite with Malarunk. The Bloody Blades will make quick work of them, and hand the captured PCs over to Voz. Voz could have any number of uses for captives, including selling them off to the Scarlet Triad, killing them and raising them as undead minions, or keeping them for herself as living slaves. Whatever you want her plans to be, the new party can show up just in time to save them from any irreversible fate. This will also give you a chance to have some extra party members around for the Ralldar fight, if you think your party will need them.


Book 1 Spoilers Below:

Book 1:
As I read it, the cultists are stuck unless the party left the secret door to B1 open, the cultists remain unaware of an exit. This leaves the party in the same place. You could use this to create an interesting and more compelling hostage situation than was found at A22.
If you reason that the cultists now know of an exit, then the cultists could escape as previously suggested and party 1 ends up with Voz. But I would think the Bloody Blades would kill the cultists on sight. The Cinderclaws and Voz are linked by an intermediary, the Scarlet Triad, but I don't see any direct connection or knowledge that the two would have of each other, your mileage may vary. I think that if Party 1 is moved out, then they would be entered in the nearby forest, but I wouldn't place them with Voz. Might call for a little homebrew or the use of a flipmap.
I think then you have an opportunity to examine what these cultists would attempt to do when they have freedom but cannot reunite with allies or return to their homes. Do they attempt to form a community or do they become raiders and try to sack Breachill?


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My take:

Book 1:
Unless the party specifically stated they were closing the secret passageway, I would say they left it open behind them, giving the cultists a way outside to food and water. The surviving cultists would drive off the Bumblebrashers and occupy Citadel Altaerin, and use the captured Party 1 members as slave labor to excavate the collapsed stairwells and try to reconnect with Malarunk. They're worked around the clock on shifts, with half resting under guard in the barracks while the other half toil away breaking and clearing rocks in the crypts.

Helba would of course immediately report this news to Warbal, who would let Breachill council know immediately. I imagine they would convene an emergency Call to Heroes for your Party 2. This could also be a fun opportunity for Pibb & Zarf to also escape and respond to the Call, whether as Alak-style escort NPCs or handed over to the PCs for control.

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