Friday, February 07, 2014


There seems to be at least two different styles of adventure: Sandbox which tend to be exploratory wilderness or dungeon style adventures, and Plot driven which include Adventure paths. Most groups probably blend the two styles using more of one and less of the other depending on their preferences.

I think one of the main reason Kingmaker was such a hit was its focus on wilderness exploration which is a bit out of the norm for us. It did have something of a plot but it was so loose and almost outside of the action that if you were not watching for it you would have no idea it was there.

The more traditional Adventure Paths have much stronger and more integrated plots. Rise of the Runelords has probably one of the best as you see more and more cult like activity which moves the story throughout the campaign. And then there is Council of Thieves which I have both played and read through and I still can not explain the meta plot - it is just not very clear.

Part of the reason I do the post game session recap on the blog is so that my players can come back and keep the plot fresh in their minds. Who is this chick that keeps teleporting around and telling us what to do in the name of Cardinal Thorn? Who is Cardinal Thorn and why does he hate Mitrans so much? Is releasing this super plague really such a good idea and why does Asmodeus, a lawful evil deity, want to cause so much death? Who are the other Knots and what are they up to (why does it seem like we are doing most of the work?)

On one hand it is great for a GM. The players all understand that they are on a railroad and just follow the DMs clues (subtle or otherwise) unquestioningly. No one ever really asks the question "Why"? On the other hand its a bit disappointing for the DM. You try and present an interesting plot made with characters who are as three dimensional as possible and no one really pay much attention to it. Everyone just kicks down the door, kills the occupants and takes their stuff.

Anyway, I hope that as the campaign continues, the PCs will get to know some of the NPCs better and establish a bit of a relationship with them. I think the White Raven NPCs worked nicely. Introduced in Book 1, they return in Book2 and act as allies but there was definitly tension between the two groups. The PCs were genuinely pissed off when they were betrayed. Now I just have to get the PCs more familiar with the likes of Sakkarot Fire-Axe, Tiadorra, Barnabus Thrain, and Cardinal Thorn who are all key players in what is to come.

What good is a plot if no one knows what it is?

Monday, February 03, 2014

Way of the Wicked 12

The 9th Knot were instructed to travel Ghastenhall and deliver the Tears of Achlys to Barnabus Thrain, an Asmodean priest mascaraing as a Mitran, at the Library of Ghaster. After a month in Ghastenhall to recuperate they would gather the core of an army from Sakkarot Fire-axe and then wipe out the Vale of Valtaerna - the holiest site of Mitra.

The villains made their way by boat  to the great port of Ghastenhall on Cambrian Bay in the Heartlands. Finding Thrain was not so difficult. They talked briefly and then agreed to meet the following night. The Tears were handed over to Thrain (the 5th Knot) and in exchange he handed them a jewel that would enhance their Iron Circlets. He also arranged for a manor for them to use a base for the month that they would be in the city.

The villains spent the month upgrading equipment and working off a bit of steam after having been isolated in remote Farhold for most of the year. At the end of the month Tiadora appeared and provided the party a means of teleporting to Sakkarot Fire-Axe's current encampment.

Tiadora accompanied the party but oddly had the appearance of a white bugbear while walking through Sakkarot's encampment. Sakkarot greeted the 9th Knot warmly and invited them to his council chamber. The Fire-axe had taken Castle Westkirk and was using it as winter quarters before resuming the campaign in the spring. He reluctantly agree to hand over to the party 2 units of Bugbears that would compose the Core of the PC's army. Both Sakkarot and Tiadora both made suggestions where further allies might be found.

An Oni was recruited, the hidden Duergar city was located but the PCs failed to recruit them and they decided not to engage the Medusa. The bugbear forces began marching towards the Vale while the 9th Knot returned to Ghastenhall. it was there they were visited by a Contract Devil named Dessiter. He offered a bit of information and had an agreement that stipulated that in return for the use of 3 Nessian Hell Hounds, the party agree to either kill or drive from this plane of existence the angelic being that is running the show inside the Vale whose name I can't find right now. Since the PCs figured they were going to kill him anyway they all signed up.

The villains approached the vale under disguise and buffed with Undetectable Alignment. They made it past the wall that defends the valley and explored the Vale a little. It seemed to be a sleepy farming village with churches and shrines everywhere. There were no rowdy bars and even the inns were free. How boring. There were a few soldiers and priests about but overall the place seemed ripe for the pickings!

Dessiter had told them that their first concern was to take the valley with their army. After that they would have to snuff out the three flames to Mitra. The first the PCs spotted easily on a mountain top that was sticking out of the lake. The location of the other two is still unknown.

The PCs instructed the Bugbears to attack at 5am(dawn) - a curious move since the bugbears all have night vision and their human opponents do not. The PCs assaulted the guard tower before the bugbears were scheduled to arrive to ensure that the wall would provide no resistance. They landed on the roof and dispatched the Watchers. The gong was disabled to prevent any warnings from going out. Then the tower was cleared from top to bottom with the Clay Golem guardians in the tunnel the last to fall.

The bugbear army arrived and the entrance to the valley lay open.

As the bugbear army begins to pass through the wall, horns begin to sound from the town of Sanctum. Something or someone has spotted the approaching army and has called the valley's defenders to arms. A battle will be fought but it will take place on the open ground rather a siege of the wall. The defenders will be rushing into position and will have little to no defensive works nor defensive siege engines. The bugbears are not fresh having marched hundreds of miles but are still numerous and are bigger, stronger and meaner than their opponents. The battle will be epic!