Spicing up Chapter 4; Advice needed!

Rise of the Runelords

Hey all! My party just rebuffed the giant raid on Sandpoint. They are now licking their wounds and preparing to chase the surviving giants to Jorgenfist and rescue their captured friends. My only problem as a DM is that...to be honest, chapter 4 looks kind of dull as written.

There's nothing wrong with the content (the dungeon looks fun enough, if a little old-school for my taste), but it seems to me like I'm looking at essentially grinding combat for the remainder of the chapter - not that that's bad, but it's not really to my group's taste and I know if we run it as written, everyone (myself included) will just be trying to finish it as soon as possible so we can move onto more interesting content. So my question is, does anyone have some advice for keeping this chapter fresh and exciting? For reference, my group had a fine enough time in chapter 3, but they were getting tired of continually attacking Fort Rannick by the end, and they decided to stealth attack/assassinate Barl Breakbones rather than trying to clear the Clanhold one room at a time.

So what can I do to spice it up? I generally prefer to run fewer but more difficult battles as opposed to many simple/easy ones, which is essentially what I believe the dungeon will boil down to (room after room of 2-3 stone giants or similar guards, with maybe a trap or hazard). I love the potential to ally with Conna, so maybe I can twist the adventure so rather than raiding Jorgenfist on their own, they can do a difficult favor for Conna to prove they are trustworthy, and she and her Giants can help them burst through the defenses in a climactic raid?

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated (my group is currently most invested in rescuing their friends (specifically Ameiko) from the giants, but they are also hankering for some retribution).

Sovereign Court

You could incorporate some elements from Seven Swords of Sin: the ‘weapons of the runrlords’ angle should make it more interesting.

There is also room for travel-adventure. At this level they might all just be using overland flight to get around but if not then terrain can be an intetrdting challenge.

Also, neutral but hostile communities along their path could be fun.

Then you can slim down the dungeon, or maybe replace it with a duel to the death? Ameiko held at knife point while some bad-ass giant offers to fight your best warrior for her life. Fudge some stealth checks to have the rest of the party notice a villain sneakily trying to interfere with the fight so that the rest of the party can run cover to keep the fight fair.

Grand Lodge

Hey there Max.

My party skipped all of Book 4 after the Raid (and then switched sides), so figuring out how to handle that chunk is something I spent a good part of the last year thinking about.

- Let the party travel to Jorgenfist however works for them as per normal.

- Give them a chance to scout out the area. During this time, let them note two potential entrances: the cliffside passage filled with Deathwebs and the Black Tower.

- Fill out the Black Tower slightly more, then provide a connection between the Black Tower and the Therassic Monastery (they were likely once connected anyhow - I had the passages connecting them sealed by ice that would not begin to melt until the Black Monk was defeated).

This leaves the party with two different routes to take, both of which skip a section of the adventure. Taking the Black Tower -> Therassic Monastery route gives more information about the Therassic Order, misses out on contact with Conna, and skips Part 4: "Under Jorgenfist" entirely. Taking the tunnels route skips most of the combat of Part 3: "Into the Valley of the Black Tower".

Now, if you're interested in something conceptually more interesting than "raid a fortress step-by-step," but still want to give your party a chance to save Ameiko, I'd recommend having Mokmurian use the captured civilians as bait, and have the party arrive in time for the sihedron ritual. They could potentially ally with Conna looking to stop the ritual, but in essence they'd be doing a more hardcore version of Part 3: "Into the Valley of the Black Tower", incorporating Lokansir, Mokmurian, and the Lamia Priestesses.

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