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I've read through Ruins of Gauntlight twice now, and have absolutely fallen in love with the setting and story. Like most APs, though, I think it'll benefit from GMs adding their own flavor and spin on it. One of the main things I'd like to see more of is the sidequests, relating back to NPC's in town or even ones in the dungeon itself!
The only thing I've come up with so far is a mission from Wrin to destroy any symbols of Nhimbaloth they come across after hearing a description of one. Her pantheon seems directly opposed to Nhimbaloth, so it naturally follows that she'd want that worship stomped out. Rewards would be the standard story XP, plus maybe a specific magic item tailored to the party.
I'd love more ideas, and I'll be coming up with more of my own!
Another possible mission (given by the mayor, or maybe Morlibint) could be to write a report about the last days of Otari.
When the PCs learn that Otari actually survived the fight between the Roseguard and Belcorra, and spent a few days navigating the lower levels of the dungeon, they might be asked to gather all the information they can about what he actually did, the monsters and challenges he faced, where he went/hid and what he discovered during his last days.
The PCs would have to use the various clues found during their exploration of the dungeon (messages, green "tracking ray", skeletons left in guardrooms, common senses...) and the information given by Otari's ghost (who can't recall clearly the details of his last days - they can't get all the information from him) to build up a precise account of his journeys through the lower levels.
Oh, good idea! I have been wondering how Wrin should comment after hearing about symbols etc. of Nhimbaloth. It could be a good moment of giving info on Nhimbaloth when the PCs return to her and describe what they found. Or how will you handle that?
A side/extra quest I am working on is having NPCs (from the book but also one's my players and me have made up in backstory creation) dear to the PCs being in the Dawnflower Library when the undead attack in the beginning of chapter 2. Maybe another few combats saving townsfolk. That way the connection to Otari is deepend further.
My group played the Beginner Box + Troubles in Otari earlier, so this new party is going to be the 'new guys' who the previous adventurers sort of leave to handle this as their latest mission takes them far afield. The PLAYERS know quite a bit about Otari, and with their former PCs being locals, they can sort of learn about NPCs via the stories and adventures of the previous group. It's pretty fun.
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I'll play Abomination Vaults with a high number of players I'll split in multiple groups that will explore the same Gauntlight. So, expanding content is a necessity for me if I don't want third level characters to knock at Belcorra's door.
I also want my players to look at these additional quests in town, for them to interact with the villagers. As such, some of the quests are mostly useless but will increase the player's grasp of Otari.
And I like the fact that most of the rooms in the dungeon have side quests associated. It pushes players to investigate them entirely and not just walk their way without caring about much.
So, at first level, I'll add:
- The brother of the dead rogue in the Nhimbaloth shrine will ask to retrieve his brother's family ring.
- One of the city notables will ask the PCs if they can find him a fantastic pet. He will dislike giant maggots and flies, but definitely love a giant scorpion.
- The kobolds under the Thirsty Alpaga want to know what happened to their kin who were living in the Gauntlight.
- In Nhimbaloth's shrine, the PCs will find the corpse of a Naiad sacrificed to Nhimbaloth in a ritual to corrupt her waters. Following this lead will bring the PCs to a sacred grove in the woods which is slowly being turned into a swamp by the now corrupted waters.
- The wizard in Odd Stories is looking for Scalathrax oil (and will pay 30 gp instead of 20 to get it).
- The cleric of Sarenrae will ask the characters to desecrate the shrine of Nhimbaloth. While doing so, the strong magical energies the PCs will summon will send them to the Shadow plane where the Gauntlight is extremely similar to its Material plane version (I'll use the same map but in black and white). The Gauntlight is so powerful that it thins the boundaries between planes, so the PCs will be easily able to go back to the Material plane.