Thelsikar’s Ambition: Depths of the Pit Part 2

For the second level of the Pit, I generated a random menu from the donjon site.  I added one of Ameiko’s special meals to the menu, since I think her cooking experiments are funny.  This time it was haggis.

For the adventure outline, I added a description of the seasonal weather.  It had no detailed games effects.  It was mostly for atmosphere.

For this adventure, I began writing multiple entries for downtime events.  I wasn’t following the downtime system from Ultimate Campaign.  I was only inspired by it to use that structure.

I completely invented a younger brother for Ameiko, who her father used to try to pressure her into closing the Rusty Dragon.  The player’s response to that was to go to the Glassworks and lean on her brother.  The Half-Orc Barbarian, run by a new player, was particularly effective.

I also recycled an unused plot point from an earlier adventure outline.  The player characters wanted to buy some magic items which were too expensive for Sandpoint’s resources.  So I lined them up with the owner of the magic shop in Sandpoint, who I decided had a contact in Magnimar.  The contact in Magnimar was having trouble and was willing to extend credit to the player characters for magic items upon resolving it. The villains were a cell of dark folk, given permission to harass the merchant and raid Sandpoint by Thelsikar.  They did it because they could.  One of the adventure rumors was the presence of small, dark-clothed creatures who left a bad smell in the air when they left (Dark Creepers).

The players again bypassed the Magnimar plot point and charged straight for the Pit. The dungeon was bog-standard, with dressing reflecting the slovenly lifestyle of Dark Creepers.  They had a harder time dealing with the Dark Stalkers.  They caused a chain explosion when they killed one and its special ability went off.  Lots of damage for the encounter.

Then there was the boss fight, with a Shae.  That was my first time using a creature from my newly acquired copy of Bestiary 3 and I didn’t have a grip on how to use its special abilities.

The adventure outline continued, to describe the next level of the Pit, but the group ran out of game time.  We have four hour sessions available.  The FLGS closes an hour after our end time.

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Reskinning Exercise: The Awakened Wombat

wombat-picI’ve created a stat block for the Awakened Wombat, just as I threatened I would.  😀

It’s based on the Donkey Rat (Inner Sea Guide) plus what I know about real wombats.

You see a stout furry creature with large claws.

Awakened Wombat CR 1/4

XP 135

N Small animal

Init +3; Senses low-light vision, scent, Perception +4

Defense

AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 size)

hp 5 (1d8+1)

Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +1

Offense

Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.

Melee bite +1 (1d4), +1 2 claws (1d3)

Special Attacks rake (2 claws +1, 1d3)

Statistics

Str 10, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10

Base Atk +0; CMB –1; CMD 12 (16 vs. trip)

Feats Skill Focus (Perception)

Skills Climb +11, Perception +4, Stealth +11, Swim +11; Racial Modifiers uses Dex to modify Climb and Swim

Ecology

Environment any temperate

Organization solitary or pack (2–20)

Treasure none

Wombats grow up to 2 feet long and weigh up to 25 pounds.  They are irritable and will attack when even mildly disturbed.

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: The Depths of the Pit

I have been fascinated by the Pit in Devil’s Platter ever since I read about in the Inner Sea Guide.  So, I created an adventure which is set in the first level of the caves that make up the Pit.  I called it “The Depths of the Pit”.  Imaginative, no?  😉

I added rumors to the introduction of the outline which were all tied to plot lines which had come from earlier adventures.  One of them was the rumor that the attack by the Boggards was part of an inside job.  There was a ladder near the gate, just like the ladder in the early Rise of the Runelords adventure.  I was borrowing Tsuto from Rise of the Runelords for use as a lackey and spy of Thelsikar.  One of the other rumors suggested that Ratfolk had been seen in town, short humanoids in brown robes.  Disgusting Jawas!  😉  Of course, it was actually the Kobold miners, who had taken the initiative to sell their silver ore in town.

The actual introduction to the dungeon was a scene at the Rusty Dragon, where all the introductions had taken place before.  The player characters were living there for free, as suggested by the Beginner Box adventure.  In this scene, the leader of the Kobolds arrived with the head of a Derro, which had been caught in one of the mine’s traps.  This prompted the player characters to ask where the Derro had come from.  The Kobold leader told them it had come in a group from the Pit.

Off to the Pit they went.

The first level dungeon of the Pit was simple.  It was fifteen caves, divided between a Troglodyte lair and a Derro lair.  The Troglodytes were shunning everyone else and were at war with the Derro.  I again used an Otyugh as a garbage disposal in the Trog lair.  The Derro weren’t so sanitary.  In order to try to give the player characters more of a challenge, I used a template and placed an Advanced Giant Scorpion as the treasure vault guard.

I left room for expansion with a guard post that had a stairway which lead deeper down.

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: Adventure Design

This post was prompted by a request for aid in adventure design in the Facebook Pathfinder fan group.  As anyone who knows me knows, I stink at adventure design.  When I first got into Pathfinder GMing, I was pleased at how simple the introductory adventure in the Beginner Box was.  It gave plenty of advice on how to run each encounter, which I needed.  My only criticism of the introductory adventure is the presence of Black Fang.  In my run of the adventure, the Young Black Dragon almost caused a TPK.  But if you’re going to have a game based on Dungeons & Dragons, you need to have Dragons present in the adventures.  😉

So, I was excited when I concluded the adventure and wanted to start a campaign based on the information in the Beginner Box.  The players had fun.  I had fun.  This is the goal of the game, so we all wanted more.  I wrote up a sheet of house rules, giving credit for their inspiration to the two players at the time.  I also followed the Beginner Box’s advice and extended the dungeon in the initial adventure to a second level of the dungeon.  I followed the adventure design suggestions in the Beginner Box’s booklet.

For your reading pleasure, here is the entire outline of the adventure:

Black Fang’s Dungeon-Part 2

Sandpoint:  The Rusty Dragon

Common Room:  A storyteller bard, Gene, is enacting two merchants haggling over a shipment of fish, in the background.  The inn owner, Ameiko, is serving drinks behind the bar.  Adventurers are welcome at The Rusty Dragon because they can get inexpensive room and board, even if they haven’t completed a quest.

 

Black Fang’s Dungeon:  Area 2

 

Area 2 has hewn stone walls (CD 25 Climb check) and hewn stone floors  (DC 10 Acrobatics check to charge)

  1. 1. Entryway: Two dogs guard either side of the room and the door into the next room.

 

  1. Larder: Crates of salted meat fill this room.  There is a nest of three rats snuffling about in here.

 

  1. Giant Spider Lair: Large, ropy webs fill the corners of this room.   Hidden in one corner of the room is a giant spider.

Treasure:  200 gold pieces, 1 agate (10 GP), 1 bloodstone (50 GP)

 

  1. Vault: This room has two empty chests in it and a third one filled with gold coins.

Treasure:  200 gold pieces

 

  1. Octopus Pool: One side of this room is filled with a wading pool of one-foot-deep water.  An octopus is in the water, guarding a treasure.

Treasure:  100 gold pieces, 1 gold armband (100 GP)

 

  1. Goblin Argument:  A dead Bigmouth tribe goblin lies slumped in this room.  It wears a silver ring.  A DC 12 Heal check will reveal that it has been stabbed with a short sword.  Three Bigmouth tribe goblins are arguing over the body.

Treasure:  1 silver ring (60 GP), two amethysts (100 GP each)

 

  1. Meeting Room: There is an ornate wooden desk with an animated object, a chair, on the opposite side of it.  The chair has the Grab special ability.

There is a piece of paper on the desk, with a message written in Common runes.  The language is Goblin.  It reads, “Black Fang is reluctant to reveal the secret to me.  Perhaps he can be persuaded to part with it when we move to Raven’s Watch”.  It is signed “T” (for “Thelsikar”).

Treasure:   500 gold pieces, a piece of paper written in Goblin.

 

  1. Hall: There is a long, low table in this room with room for ten.  At nine places at the table are scraps of meat.  The tenth place, at one head of the table, is clean.

 

  1. Oubliette: This room has jail cells on each wall.  In the center is a hidden pit trap, lined with hay.  The floor is tilted so that it at an angle toward the pit.

 

  1. Torture Chamber: Tables with bodies on them are in this room.  At the rear of the room, in shadow, sits a bugbear.  Two Bigmouth tribe goblins are tormenting a lone human chained to a wall.  The human is a local farmer.  A third goblin lies dead in front of a pair of empty shackles on the wall.

Treasure:  600 gold pieces, 1 masterwork mace, `1 masterwork staff, one more masterwork weapon.

If rescued, the farmer, Henry, says, “There was a Halfling here not two hours ago.  He got out of the shackles and killed that goblin with his own short sword.  He said his name was _________________.” (one of Chuck’s brothers)

*****

Given my sarcastic, satirical writing style, I had to restrain myself from including the skeleton of a Drow holding two rusted scimitars in its bony hands, inspired by a certain fanboy favorite Chaotic Good Ranger from tie-in fiction based on the world’s oldest role-playing game.

As you can see, it’s not great stuff.  It’s a basic dungeon crawl with elements from the first adventure.  It also includes foreshadowing and tie-ins to the major villain of the campaign arc, Thelsikar.

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: Unused Material

There were two adventure outlines I wrote for Thelsikar’s Ambition which I did not use.  One was Serpents of Viperwall.  I had intended to use that adventure to introduce Serpentfolk to the campaign.  Viperwall is a ruin in Varisia.  I thought it would make a cool place for Serpentfolk.  The other was Magic in Magnimar.  The players were interested in obtaining more magic items for their characters, but didn’t have enough gold to do it.  I was deliberately stingy handing out treasure because I was using monsters which didn’t have treasure listed in the Bestiary.  Also, I had problems with writing Monty Haul adventures in other editions of the world’s oldest role-playing game.  (I once even got whined at by a group of players because I created an appropriate treasure hoard which didn’t hand out magic items to every player character.)  The outline for Magic in Magnimar was that one of the magic shop owners in Sandpoint had a contact in Magnimar who was having trouble.  In return for aid, he would extend credit for desirable magic items.  I also thought it might be cool to do an urban adventure set in Magnimar.

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: March of the Boggards

This adventure was pretty weak.  It was inspired by the Goblin attack that opens Rise of the Runelords.  By late 2014, I had bought the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition and was pillaging it for plot ideas, NPCs and locations.  The adventure itself consists of waves of Boggards, coming a few at a time at the player characters located in the town square.  I bought and printed out the PDF of the Town Square map and used that in play.  The only unusual encounter was at the end, with an evil Druid who lead the Boggards out of a nearby swamp.  The final encounter was with a Vodyanoi observer, who wanted to see where the Boggards went.  The Boggards and the Vodyanoi are natural enemies.  This was the first time I used a creature from a source other than the Bestiary.  Vodyanoi come from Bestiary 3.

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Theliskar’s Ambition: Thelsikar’s Lab

After the player characters in my campaign discovered and took over the silver mine on the Devil’s Platter, the next adventure introduced the Junk Beach area and the Seven Tooth Goblin tribe.  The background for the adventure was that the Seven Tooth Goblins had been kicked out of their caves by Thelsikar and a Half-Orc mercenary from Belkzen.  This caused the Goblins to move to Junk Beach.  That resulted in Gorvi and his boys not wanting to do their job and dump garbage on the beach.

So Mayor Deverin and a smelly and angry Gorvi asked the player characters to investigate what was going on, on the beach.  They quickly found the Goblins and left them alone after finding out they were harmless, for Goblins.  This lead them to the caves, where they found Thelsikar’s test subjects for his experiments into what makes a creature a monster.  The player characters didn’t figure out the clues to lead to that conclusion.  They killed most of the test subjects, except for two Troglodytes.  They were able to talk to the Trogs, who only wanted to be free.  They sold some Donkey Rat meat and some Giant Frog’s legs to Ameiko at the Rusty Dragon.  In Thelsikar’s Ambition, Ameiko goes out of her way to experiment with cooking.  Her strange dishes were one of the motivations for the player characters to move out of the Rusty Dragon flophouse, despite being able to stay there for free.

Note:  This website uses trademarks and/or copyrights owned by Paizo Inc., which are used under Paizo’s Community Use Policy. We are expressly prohibited from charging you to use or access this content. This website is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Paizo Inc. For more information about Paizo’s Community Use Policy, please visit paizo.com/communityuse. For more information about Paizo Inc. and Paizo products, please visit paizo.com.