So, I have had the hardcover book of this AP for ages and was thinking of finally running it. Last messages about it in forums go back years so I figured to make a new thread.
Few things come to mind.
- Essentially the whole volcano is swiss cheese with a new megadungeon accessible from every basement. I am looking on possibility of moving locations outside Cauldron itself and was wondering if anyone had some inspiration on the subject. Can some of these turned into outdoor ruins in your mind so that the AP is not 12 dungeon crawls back to back?
- There are glaring plotholes and "Overtly complicated" stuff that bad guys are doing (the whole kidnap thing springs to a mind). Which ones you noticed and what did you do to fix it?
- I want to feature Olmans & Amedia jungle somehow
- I use "Scarlet Brotherhood" book and history of the area suggests it was inhabited by Suel refugees. Therefore all deities should be Suel too. Wee Jas is easy but Kord was swapped with Llerg and Pelor & St. Cuthbert get replaced by Phyton & Jascar respectively.
- Not sure about Alleybashers on what to do with them. I figured I could keep them about as background element (and something that LL can finish off if City Guard needs to "show results"), perhaps having them be under a new unscrupulous master who keeps the Slippery Eel as "place of vice" for less wealthy.
Hi there! I run the full AP here in the boards, using Pathfinder rules and Golarion setting. You can check the PbP here, feel free to take anything from there you find useful.
Now, let me try to help:
1) I understand the desire to have a bit more variety. That said, having the dungeons in the city itself helps create a bond between the players and the city, and foreshadows the volcanic nature of the city that reaches climax in the last modules. Also, running as defined will be way easier which is more likely to mean success as you have more time to focus on binding the players to the story. But here are some ideas:
- Jzadirune & Malachite Fortress: The first one can easily be made a building in the city or outside, maybe a lost fortress in the jungle. You will have to modify the entrance and instead of finding stairs going down in Ghelve's Locks, the PC's find hints of where the kidnapped were taken. The Malachite though is very tied to be underground and below the Malachite.
- Drakthar's way: Is a tunnel to smuggle the soulcage materials into Cauldron along with weapons. It very much calls for being underground below Cauldron.
- Lucky Monkey: This is in the jungle already.
- Kopru Ruins: Might be a quarry in Redgorge instead of underground, but it is already outside Cauldron (but still the volcano slopes).
- Bhal-Hamatugn: The Darklands. I modified the access to here, having Crazy Jarred be in the Darklands too, and being the cavern exit in the Malachite Fortress the natural access to the Darklands, taking the hook in that adventure of some demon door keys. I find this works better than forcing the PC's to journey out of Cauldron just to go down underground again, and let's the PC's return to a known place, the Malachite.
- Vaprak's Voice: It's on the Demonskar already, and there is some jungle travel I emphasized. Later on, I added a whole sidequest for the PCs to further experience the Demonskar (they asked for it).
- Occipitus: Planar travel, yay!
- Cathedral of Wee Jas: This is a building in Cauldron. I suggest you try to forshadow it. In my campaign the church was a corrupted branch of Pharasma, but the building was still known with the Greyhawk names.
- Karran-Kural: Back to the Demonskar.
- The Brass Trumpet: Again a building structure in Cauldron, no underground.
- House Rhiavadi: Manor in Cauldron, this is good, the players finally get to experience how the nobility in the city is living over the scarcities of the common folk.
- House Vhalantru + Oblivion: Another manor in Cauldron. And for Oblivion you can make it be in another plane created by the BBEG instead of underground if you are fed up with that type.
- Cauldron: Well, we have had some events developing in the streets of Cauldron, but here we have a full chapter that happens there. By now the PCs should know a lot of NPCs in the city and care to save as many as possible.
- Fiery Sanctum: This one really could happen elsewhere, but it has sense it is below the volcano.
- Shatterhorn: On the jungle structure + underground.
- Skullrot: Tower in the Tarterian Depths of Carceri, more planar travel, yay!
All in all it is much more varied that it might seem, I would just stress on the features that makes each dungeon different, and expend some time on traveling with a few random encounters in the jungle for example if you want to add color and variety. The three first chapters though, I admit they are a bit the same, but if you really want to change that, make the dwarven fortress in a nearby mountain and the Kopru ruins in a Redgorge quarry. The rest I think is fine.
2) The overall story is great, but as a GM you have to place hints here and there and give more information to the PCs so they better understand what is happening. The kidnap works because it is a third party doing it, and the fact the boy is taken by a beholder and then released triggers questions on the players that start to think there is some mystery going on with the boy and the whole city. The only change I made was adding text and dialogue to stress something was being built by a cabal. Also, the PCs shall feel they are being used, what explains why they are not killed by the bad ones while they are still weak, but they should not be sure by whom exactly.
3) Can't help here.
4) I used Golarion, preserved the name of the churches, but gave Golarion deities to them: St. Cuthbert -> Abadar, Wee Jass -> Pharasma, Kord -> Gorum, Pelor -> Sarenrae
5) They basically are exterminated at the Lucky Monkey and the Kopru Mines. My players saved one of them, a named halfling, she kept coming back during street riots and rampages, causing mischief and helping the party at equal parts.