Running Crimson Throne. Want to Replace "Seven Days to the Grave." How!?


Advice


If you're familiar with the "Seven Days to the Grave" chapter of the "Curse of the Crimson Throne" AP, you know that its major motif is an outbreak of deadly plague. Given the reality of COVID, my players and I aren't too excited to run through it.

We love the AP so far, and we love Korvosa. A year ago we would have played through happily, but now is not a great time for the theme.

What's an alternative to this chapter? I'm looking at replacing levels 5-7 of play before returning to Crimson Throne in Part 3, "Escape from Old Korvosa."

SPOILERS BELOW

It's a two-player gestalt game. There's a cabalist vigilante / aether kineticist and an urban barbarian / slayer, along with their awakened dancing poodle bard cohort. I'm thinking about leaning on the Blackjack angle and having him take the PCs out of the city for "superhero training." That opens up any number of appropriate filler adventures.

I hate to leave Korvosa behind, but I don't know how else to preserve the plot leading into "Escape from Old Korvosa," what with that quarter of the city getting quarantined and all. I imagine letting the plague happen quietly "off stage" while the PCs are doing their side quests.

If I go this route, what are some appropriate modules for defenders-of-the-city in training (lvls 5-7)? And if there's a better way, what the crap is it?


I’m wondering if ‘City of Golden Death’ would provide a welcome side trip. I’m going to run it soon, but I have never played or GM’d it yet...


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Not that this is a real suggestion, but when I read the title "Seven Days to the Grave" my first thought was replace it with "3 Days to the Grave" and run a game theme loosely on The Legend of Zelda: Majora Mask where the need to find a way to stop the moon from falling within 3 days or else everyone dies.

It in no way fits anything, but that was my first thought and I wanted to share it.


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I plan to start the AP myself, so I reconsidered book 2 myself. Personally I find the topic to be actual helpful - opposed to real life, players can have a serious impact in solving the problem!

Book 2 could be rewritten to make the adventurers stop bad things before they start, with not too much effort, I guess.


SheepishEidolon wrote:
Personally I find the topic to be actual helpful - opposed to real life, players can have a serious impact in solving the problem!

That was my initial reaction as well. However, I'm trying to respect my players' comfort level here. Different strokes and all that.

The theme is pretty pervasive, what with a body count as a scoring system, quarantine, burning bodies, evil plague mask doctors, and a grand finale in a creepy hospital. Sadly, I don't think you can really write out that leitmotif. It's the whole adventure.


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Hrm, on a more abstract level it's an investigation. Something horrible happens, and the adventurers track it down. Some ideas:

1) You turn it into a curse, preferably with very different symptoms than COVID-19. Since it's not infectious, appearantly a group of persons / creatures is consistenly targetting people. Brienna is among the first victims, since the curse bringers had to practice their arts. The physicians arrive to "stop the curse". The ship inhabitant is actually a perfect fit for a curse. Rats can stay rats. Vendra sells "protection against the curse". Hungry dead can stay as they are. Jolistina might have a connection to the curse bringers, but doesn't have to. The hospice "treats the effects of the curse, buying people some time", not the curse itself.

2) You turn it into a murder investigation. Whoever the murderer(s) is / are, they kill fast and in a horrible way. Brienna is not a victim but traumatized, so the PCs have a hard time to get through to her. The physicians arrive to "track down the murderers". The ship inhabitant has some connection to the murderers. Rats can stay rats, but might have more of a connection. Vendra sells "smells that turn the murder monsters away". Hungry dead can stay as they are, but might have more of a connection. The hospice "treats" the traumatized survivors.

Other investigations are possible, I guess.


Yeah, an easier option may be to convert the problematic aspects to a more palatable form than either writing your own material or trying to convert a different book.


You could have a traditional plague of lycanthropy (probably wererats, considering the low level nature of the adventure) or ghouls. This would no doubt require some reworking of the adventure but they are very traditional types of stories for D&D.

In 1e and 2e there were spells that spread curses and disease to multiple people.

examples:

Plague Curse
(Necromancy) [curse, disease, evil]
Level: Clr/Or 4
Casting Time: 1 round
Components: V, S, DF
Range: touch
Duration: special
Target: creature or object touched
Saving throw: Fortitude negates
Spell resistance: yes

The target becomes the carrier of a virulent plague (choose one). Living targets are immune to the disease but every creature coming into contact with the target must make a save or contract the disease. The spell usually ends when it has claimed one life per caster level, though the DM may decree it claims more or fewer.
Granted by: plague gods

Crimson Scourge
(Necromancy) [curse, evil]
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, S, F
Range: touch
Duration: special
Target: 1 creature
Saving throw: Fortitude negates
Spell resistance: yes

The target begins to bleed through its skin taking 1d6 points of bleed damage per round. The Heal skill, channeling and healing effects of less than 3rd level are ineffective in stopping or healing the damage from this spell. Healing spells of 3rd level or higher stop the bleed but cannot heal the damage. A remove curse followed by a heal is necessary to heal the damage. The most insidious aspect of the spell is that any creature touching the first target must make a Fortitude save or be affected by the spell as well, as well as any creature touching secondary, tertiary etc. victims. Once an affected creature dies that target is no longer infectious. Succeeding on one save renders you immune to all manifestations of a particular casting, and you are never affected by your own spell.
Focus: 1 scarlet robe and a faceless mask, both of red silk, worth 1000 gp or more

Seed of Moander
(Necromancy) [disease, evil, mind affecting, compulsion]
Level: Clr/Or 5
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Components: V, S, M, F, DF
Range: touch
Duration: permanent
Target: 1 seed
Saving throw: Fortitude negates
Spell resistance: yes

You cause rotting plant tendrils to grow through the targets and taking control of them. To create the seed you implant a shard of emerald in a mass of rotting vegetable matter, soak it in unholy water for 24 hours, then bestow curse on it. Then you cast this spell on it, transforming it into a sticky seed the size of a horse chestnut, complete with burrs. Seeds can remain dormant indefinitely. When a seed comes into contact with a living creature not under the control of Moander it sticks to them and bursts into a 5' cloud of spores on the following round, forcing creatures inside to make a Fortitude save. On a failed save the target turns into a puppet of Moander over the course of 4d4 days, as rotting plant tendrils replace her innards. As the plants grow the target is consumed, finally dying and collapsing into a pile of rotten plants after 5d6+30 days unless a stabilizing effect such as the slow rot spell is used. To all outwards appearances the target is normal other than a slight odor of pollen and a small vine growing around one extremity. Puppets retain all skills and abilities but few memories as Moander has entirely consumed them. Puppets can exude one or two 10' tendrils which they can attack with. The tendrils have AC 18, 20 hp, attack with the puppets normal attack bonus and deal 2d8+Str bludgeoning damage 20/x2, with the constrict ability.

Infected creatures can infect others by sharing bodily fluids, though secondary targets gain a +2 cumulative bonus to their save per 'generation' of infection.
If all instances of Moander's avatars and manifestations in the Realms are removed, puppets regain control of themselves, though this also destabilizes and hastens the internal rot so that the target dies within a tenday after the initial 4d4 days.
Drinking and washing in holy water immediately after infection destroys the spores. Doing so within two days of infection slow the growth to half. Remove disease and more powerful effects will remove the infection, and taking 20 points of cold damage will also destroy the infection. The destruction of the invading tendrils weakens the target, halving their physical ability scores, which recover at the normal rate and can be magically restored in the normal means, with the addition of regenerate.
Material Components: an emerald worth 100 gp, one vial of holy water and some rotting vegetable matter
Granted by: Moander
Setting: Forgotten Realms

Assuming these are still too triggering, you can use the spreading mechanics but have a different sort of curse, like the following:

Sleepless Curse
(Enchantment) [curse]
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, S, M
Range: medium
Duration: 1 day/level
Target: 1 creature
Saving throw: Will negates
Spell resistance: yes

The target becomes incapable of sleeping, rendering him immune to any sleep-based effects. This prevents rest and any effects dependent on resting, and the target takes 1d6 nonlethal and 1 point of ability damage to each ability for each day it cannot sleep. A simple dispel magic is ineffective, but remove curse, break enchantment and similar effects can remove this spell.
Material Components: dried blue lotus petal and a small burning brazier.

Curse of the Choking Sands
(Transmutation) [curse]
Level: Clr/Or 4 - Water
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, S, DF
Range: close
Duration: 1 day/level
Target: 1 creature
Saving throw: Fortitude negates
Spell resistance: yes

A target who fails her save is unable to drink any liquids for the duration. Any liquid, including magical ones, passing her lips turns into sand.
Setting: Dark Sun

Fear Contagion
(Necromancy) [curse, emotion, fear, mind-affecting]
Level: Clr/Or 9
Casting Time: 1 round
Components: V, S, DF
Range: long
Duration: special
Area: special
Saving throw: special
Spell resistance: yes

You cause one creature to flee in panic away from you as per the fear spell (no save). Any creature that comes within 30' of the original target must make a Will save or also become subject to this spell. Creatures in the area of multiple affected creatures must make a save against each area. The spell ends for an affected creature once it passes beyond one mile of where the spell first took effect on the first target.


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With a little adjustment you might be able to run Curse of the Lady's Light from the Shattered Star AP. Canonically, it takes place after the CotCT AP as a direct sequel, so the connective tissue is there, you just have to invert the timeline. So the Grey Maidens in CotLL aren't remnants, they were specifically sent by Ileosa to try and find the Everdawn Pool, but they got the wrong ruin. Or maybe they are looking for another piece of Kazavon's relics, and you can replace the Shard of Lust with that. Doing so would hint that perhaps Ileosa is under Kazavon's influence much earlier in the AP, but that could be cool to foreshadow more.

The main thing is, while you'd have to tweak how they fit into the AP a bit, you could still use most of the meat of the encounters and module-specific plot as-is.


SheepishEidolon wrote:

Hrm, on a more abstract level it's an investigation. Something horrible happens, and the adventurers track it down. Some ideas:

1) You turn it into a curse, preferably with very different symptoms than COVID-19. Since it's not infectious, appearantly a group of persons / creatures is consistenly targetting people. Brienna is among the first victims, since the curse bringers had to practice their arts. The physicians arrive to "stop the curse". The ship inhabitant is actually a perfect fit for a curse. Rats can stay rats. Vendra sells "protection against the curse". Hungry dead can stay as they are. Jolistina might have a connection to the curse bringers, but doesn't have to. The hospice "treats the effects of the curse, buying people some time", not the curse itself.

This is great stuff, and I think I could have made it work in a vacuum. But I made the mistake of telling my players about the module ahead of time. It's going to be a tough sell to palette swap when they already know the original context.

Robert Ranting wrote:

With a little adjustment you might be able to run Curse of the Lady's Light from the Shattered Star AP.

Looking into this as a fix. Thanks so much for the suggestion! This might just be a winner.

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