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Adventure Module Outline: Bandit Kings of Halag

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mikeb's picture
Status: 
Draft

Some details are on the product page.

This page will be used to plan our first product, and adventure module tentatively titled the Bandit Kings of Halag. This page outlines the various components and links to them within the site as appropriate. There will be some things that need more development, so use this outline to help direct you for areas for development. The entire module needs to set the tone of the Dark Golden Age which includes these thematic elements (in no particular order):

  • Impact on spell casters and the grittiness of magic
  • The occasional prejudice against and mistreatment of beastfolk
  • Magical beasts created to do combat
  • Magic absorbing undead and other magic influencing creatures
  • Crypt/tomb raiding

If there is a detail needed that does not include a link, it almost certainly needs to be created.

To make the module more sandbox style, it will take the characters through 1st level with an introduction to the Dark Golden Age, but the rest will focus around a particular objective. It will involve the takeover or elimination of Rokinu's organization within Halag. To assist with the sandbox, there will be multiple tracks of activities and encounters that PCs can experience in order to influence things. When a particular track reaches a given point, other events are triggered. The tracks will involve these areas of focus:

  • Time - Time simply passing will cause some events to happen.
  • From the Inside - Doing things within Rokinu's organization increases the reputation of the PCs and gives them opportunity within it. See the Bandit Kings of Halag to contribute.
  • Sascrian Agents - Sometimes the enemy of your enemy can be your ally. The PCs can establish relationships with Sascrian agents to influence Rokinu's organization. See School Wizards of Alascombe to contribute.
  • Free Tesayan Warlords - A group of neighboring Free Tesayan warlords sees Rokinu as a dangerous rival that should be brought into their organization and is willing to help the PCs recruit or eliminate him without destroying his organization. See the Wild Ones to contribute.

Character Creation

The module will be aimed at 1st level characters on a more linear, single-session introduction followed by adventures meant to take them from 2nd to 5th level.  The module should definitely have notes to help the DM and the players create characters who fit in the DGA - including pre-generated characters - and are also tied into the story in some way.  This will require a brief general history on the overall setting, a piece on beastfolk and their origins, and a piece on creating casters in the DGA - the costs and opportunities of being an arcane or divine caster.  

Then, we should have various points of contact between the PCs and the storyline, and reward the players for connecting their characters into the story. The elements of the story that are listed so far include: Rokinu's crime organization and the Bandit Kings of Halag; Sascrian agents of the Arcane Schools working in Free Tesaya; the Free Tesayan Warlords; the Egalit and other beastfolk who consider the Crypt of Dun'or to be sacred; Bement Prison; William Analore and the Red Currant Society; Jengar.  PCs should have at least one connection to one of these elements when the game begins, and should talk about them ahead of time.  For example, if they are all hoping to one join the Red Currants, that will be very different from a situation where they all already work for Rokinu, which will again be very different from a group of mostly or all beastfolk.  Here are some example points of contact and the benefits. Think of them as traits as per the Advanced Player's Guide - every character must take one as one of their starting traits.

  • The PC owes Rokinu money; benefit: PC has 100 extra gp starting wealth
  • PC already works for Rokinu; benefit: when the party sells their loot, the PC knows where and how to fence it, and will earn an extra 5% on the side
  • PC is (secretly) a junior member or supporter of one of the Arcane Schools; benefit: Wizards start with 2 extra spells in their spellbooks from that school, or, for non-Wizards, extra Alchemist concoctions like Alchemist's Fire
  • PC is affiliated with one of the Free Tesayan Warlords; benefit: this PC gains a +2 reputation bonus on all Gather Information or Diplomacy rolls with Tesayan natives for the duration of the module
  • PC is Egalit or another kind of beastfolk; benefit: PC gets to look at the map of the Crypt of Dun'or (but not copy it) before they enter, and also gains +1 to detect, disarm, and save against the various traps inside.
  • PC has a family member or ally in Bement Prison; benefit: this ally will give the party layout and hints for the prison, and can potentially help them do things like lure guards into a trap.  This PC gets +1 to all rolls made within Bement Prison
  • PC wishes to be a member of the Red Currant Society: this PC begins the game with a minor magical or alchemical item as a sign of the Currants' patronage such as a healing potion, featherfall token or potion of invisibility
  • The PC already works with Jengar; benefit: not sure here on Jengar's background...
Encounter/Plot Point Details Needed Notes

Background and history.  If possible, the PCs in their backgrounds should be connected to one or more of the following:

  • Jengar
  • The crypt of Dun'or (beastfolk PCs can know of it and believe it to be sacred)
  • Rokinu (work for him, owe  him money, etc.)
  • Bement Prison (would be cool if a family member is in prison there)
  • Sascria (family emigrated, hate them, connected to a School, etc.)

Also, in every PCs history, they must be connected to the Collapse, since it was in all of their lifetimes.  Where were they when it hit?  What did they lose?  What did they see happen?  What do they think of divine magic and gods?

  • The Beastfolk we include will the "best" ones as well as any encountered as NPCs
  • Multiple options for magical pathways may potentially be included, but the most important is the new cost of arcane magic and the two ways of paying that cost (as well as the attendant metamagic potential 'benefit')
  • The Collapse is still a mystery as to what caused it, although there are some theories
Willem Analore summons together the PCs to find out what happened to Jengar. Jengar has gone missing while trying to find the crypt of Dun'or.  The PCs should, at this point, have already heard of the crypt of Dun'or, and should already be invested in some way with Jengar.
  • Free Tesaya is mentioned in a few places, but it does not much content as of yet. It could use a lot of development
  • In the Gen Con sessions, Jengar was an owl egalit cleric of Dun'or
  • Given a cleric of Dun'or, what is Dun'or exactly?  Do we know?  I think that the idea of a cleric of a sacred place is a really cool idea - something I haven't seen before, but comes up a lot in historical religions
While searching for the crypt, the PCs encounter a pair of fighting beastfolk. One should be a standard OGL monster like an owlbear, hydra or chimera and the second should be a Dark Golden Age Monster.  The beastfolk are trying to drive the PCs away from the Crypt, which they consider sacred, so the combat can be avoided if the PCs make the opportunity to explain themselves.  If they do, the beastfolk will guide them the rest of the way (also so they can keep an eye on them).
  • Need to create a monster that is DGA specific
  • Still need a buddy for the fighting OGL monster - the Gulon might be a fit here, or do we want something that would team well with the Owlbear?
  • Should be a note for a Knowledge: nature check to know that these 'monsters' can be talked to, or at least manipulated.  Maybe Sense Motive to know that they are protecting the Crypt
The PCs find what appears to be a campsite where Jengar was located and enter a dungeon. The dungeon should introduce additional thematic elements of the Dark Golden Age.  If the PCs have won over the beastfolk who tried to drive them off, they will receive hints and information about what they may find in the Crypt.  Though it is sacred, it has very recently been corrupted, and foul things have gathered inside.
  • Creature type: more monsters but mix of traditional and potentially new
  • Item: magical and non-magical traps
  • Place: Crypt of Dun'or
  •  The Crypt of Dun'or will need a map

Final encounter of the dungeon includes an encounter with a magowight version of Dun'or which the PCs must defeat in order to free Jengar who has become a sort of magical power soruce to the magowight's power.  The encounter two major elements: 

1. Fight the magowight Dun'or

2. Figure out how to sever the connection to Jengar and deprive the magowight of it's extra power before he is drained to death

 
When Dun'or is defeated, Jengar is free but the crypt is defiled. Jengar wants to purify the crypt and believes that he can find the proper resources in Halag to complete the consecration.  If he can purify the crypt, the local beastfolk will become his, and the PC's, staunch allies.  Jengar is profoundly weakened from the draining, and will only slowly recover ability points, making him a relative cripple for the time being.  
The PCs have an opportunity to do some haggling and shopping, but they get the feeling they are being watched. They eventually encounter a group of brigands who have been sent by Rokinu to bring them to him. Rokinu has a task he wants them to do and is willing to force them to do it.  Ronkinu should be connected to at least a couple of the PCs, though.
  • Character: Rokinu
  • Organization: Rokinu's bandit organization
  • There are no details about Rokinu's bandit organization, but the Pathfinder Faction Guide could be a useful guide 

Ronkinu's witch advisor, who Jengar was seeking, is the only local who can help cleanse the Crypt - and she has been kidnapped by Sascrian witch hunters.  Jengar is too weak to accompany the PCs.  Ronkinu tells the PCs about some boriwogs who work in Bement Prison who sometimes have dealings with witch hunters - they might know something, and time is running out before Rokinu's advisor is taken to Sascria.

  • Witches are a new base class in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide. In the Gen Con version of the game, it was a druid. A witch is potentially more powerful and more meaningful since they existed before the Collapse
  • This Witch could be another Egalit, of the opposite type from Jengar
The PC's travel to Bement Prison.  On the way they are attacked by supporters of the witch hunters who are paid to watch the roads that the hunters frequent.  They have laid arcane wilderness traps for the PCs and are fighting to capture, not kill.  If overwhelmed, they will flee, using potions if invisibility.  If the PCs detect their traps and ambush early, they might be able to convince (Bluff) the supporters that they too support Sascria and are just passing through.
  • We need a map for the prison or we could simple use one of the Paizo GameMaster flip maps
  • I vote Paizo flip-maps - or maybe don't even have a set map? But describe where things should be located and let the DM draw it out how s/he wants?
     

The PCs explore Bement Prison which seems to have only a handful of boriwog mercenaries within it. There are also some beastfolk and human prisoners waiting to be picked up by witch hunters or sold to slavers. They discover the body of the witch but the body is without its soul. Paperwork or interrogation gives the PCs the name and potentially location of a witch hunter heptaviron leader who "purchased" the soul of the witch. The witch's familiar, a preening and talkative raven, may potentially help them locate the witch as well.

The PCs can either talk to the boriwogs to shorten their search, help overthrow the prison and release the prisoners, both, or neither.  This scene is primarily searching and investigation.  When the PCs find the records room for the prison, it has a couple simple traps on the door and once inside to disarm - or set off, and be afflicted with arcane effects.

  • Creature type: Boriwog
  • Creature type: potentially other beastfolk
  • Unique arcane traps for the prison records room
  • This prison needs a Warden.  I vote a Boriwog with a Gulon pet
  • This is a useful point for additional PCs to joint he party as well, particularly if the PCs liberate the prisoners.  They could also be joined by a boriwog or other guard
  • The record room of the prison, once the PCs are in it, should have some other juicy information too, foreshadowing other things going on in the world that the Swarm wants to expand upon
The information from Bement Prison leads the PCs to a secret trading post run by witch hunters just over the Sascrian border, on the Tesayan side of a wide river.  This post trades in slaves and souls which are then taken deeper into Sascria for re-sale.  The PCs investigate and ask around and find that the witch hunter they are after has already crossed deeper into Sascria.  They need to purchase disguises, or at least new clothing, in order to follow and not stand out.
  •  Particularities of Sascrian culture and dress for the PCs to impersonate
  •  This is one of those scenes where the PCs can think about what they'll do next time they're here, with a little more power and maybe some allies, because trading in trapped souls is pretty despicable - or profitable!
The PCs infiltrate deeper into Sascria, and depending on how well they did getting disguises, they may or may not be accosted by Sascrian guards seeking to arrest them.  They either walk on through with good disguises, talk their way past with ok disguises, or get into a fight with poor ones.  Unless they kill the guards quickly on the other side of the river, they raise an alarm and the PCs have to flee and move in hiding, making things more difficult.
  •  Sascrian border guards
  •  This is an intro to the arcane ruins of Sascria - all the things that catastrophically stopped working during the Collapse.  Also, a lot more arcane magic, even now, than the PCs are used to in Free Tesaya
The PCs come to the camp of the witch hunter and her bodyguards - they are carrying a runed chest of souls guarded by locks and arcane traps.  The hunter isn't going down without a fight - the School of Eternity wants the souls and will take the hunter's soul as punishment for failure.  If the PCs don't effectively ambush the witch hunter, this is a very hard fight.
  •  A couple more unique arcane traps
  • The witch hunter him/herself; Jarvia Cladis
  • The witch hunter's bodyguards; a Lupine Fighter named Ironclaw and a Human Wizard (abjurer) named Ander Numis
  • Probably a few minions of the Witch Hunter
  •  The witch hunter is hard to bring down because s/he has at least one stolen soul to draw upon that s/he's kept for him/herself.  I vote that the witch hunter is a she, since the other NPCs are mostly guys so far

Once the PCs recover the souls, they return to Rokinu and a fully recovered Jengar.  They have yet to find out who these other souls belong to, and also have yet to rejoin the witch advisor's body to her own severed soul.  A necromancer could answer both questions, and as it turns out, Rokinu knows of a Sascrian expatriate member of the School of Eternity named Ulla Tuscador...

  • Perhaps Thuria, the Sarkan Tribelands or another place that someone wants to develop
  • Each soul is a potential quest - it should be clear that the witch's soul was the final part of a set of some kind
  • When the School of Eternity doesn't get the box of souls, they will scry and send looking for it
More to come...    

 

Related content
Back references from Relationships in Character for Event: Adventure Module Outline: Bandit Kings of Halag
Title Author Last updatesort icon
Gortrund Bement robosnake 12/06/2010 - 16:12
Jarvia Cladis robosnake 10/11/2010 - 23:26
Ulla Tuscador robosnake 10/09/2010 - 08:47
Rokinu mikeb 10/05/2010 - 21:41
Back references from Relationships in Event for Event: Adventure Module Outline: Bandit Kings of Halag
Title Author Last updatesort icon
DGA Free Intro Adventure robosnake 08/30/2011 - 12:20
Adventure Module: Bandit Kings of Halag robosnake 12/13/2010 - 12:43
Back references from Relationships in Place for Event: Adventure Module Outline: Bandit Kings of Halag
Title Author Last updatesort icon
The Crypt of Dun'or Rennata 11/11/2010 - 22:44
Bement Prison mikeb 10/14/2010 - 12:14

Comments

Outline

Here's an outline of what I've worked up for the structure of the module itself. I'm posting it as a comment before I add it to the body of the draft itself.

Introduction
A page, at most, on the basics of the Dark Golden Age

New Rules: Casters
A half-page on the effects of the Collapse on arcane and divine magic

New Rules: Beastfolk Subtype
A half-page on the new subtype and its history

Background
Wizards of Alascombe, Sascrian agents, Rokinu, Bandit Kings, Wild Ones, William Analore, Red Currant Society
maybe just a glossary with a paragraph on each for the DM's reference
-->printable handouts for the PCs? Probably helpful to have a reference to the major names and issues...

Character Creation
At level 2, or bring characters from the free intro adventure
Points of contact with the story spelled out for each character
Stats for a few beastfolk types: Egalit, Boriwog at the very least
Repeat of whatever beastfolk are statted up in the free adventure

Setup: Sandbox and Situation
Explain tracks and triggers

Intro box text
Read aloud if DMs wish, set the scene

Scene One
Talk to William Analore, make preparations in Halag before setting out

Scene Two
Travel up into the mountains
Encounter with fighting beastfolk

Scene Three
Discover and enter the Crypt
Trigger: defiling the Crypt

Scene Four
Dungeon Crawl

Scene Five
Rescue and magowight fight
Trigger: Jengar dies

Scene Six
Meet Jengar, travel back to Halag

Scene Seven
Fencing loot and being followed
Trigger: fighting Rokinu's men

Scene Eight
Meeting with Rokinu, negotiate payment
Trigger: refusing, or attacking Rokinu

Scene Nine
Travel toward Bement, ambushed
Trigger: Adding new PCs

Scene Ten
Explore Bement Prison
Trigger: Adding new PCs

Scene Eleven
Records room, traps
Find witch, meet familiar
Trigger: overthrow the guards and liberate the prison
Trigger: meet and/or kill the Warden

Scene Twelve
Travel to trading post in disguise

Scene Thirteen
Investigate the trading post
Trigger: attack the trading post

Scene Fourteen
Cross the border into Sascria, deal with guards
Trigger: poor disguises
Trigger: raise the alarm

Scene Fifteen
Coming upon arcane ruins (exposition)

Scene Sixteen
Witch-Hunter camp and big fight

Scene Seventeen
Travel back to Halag
Trigger: hunted by Sascrian agents

Scene Eighteen
Meet with William Analore, Jengar, Rokinu as appropriate
Reiterate PCs' standing - who have they impressed, who hates them, who is after them, etc.

Scene Nineteen
Find Ulla Tuscador...

Conclusion, notes and tables as needed

Not tuned for level 1

Reading through this, with the first encounter involving an Owlbear, I'm not sure it is "tuned" to level 1 as written. An Owlbear alone is CR 4, and pairing it with another creature seems to mean TPK to me...so are we looking at maybe a starting level of 3? In which case I'll need to change the story incentives I have sketched out. Or, if this is supposed to start at level 1, it needs to be re-tuned in some places.

My preference is that it would be a module that would take characters from level 1 to around level 3, and then our next one can be 3 to 5, and so on. Then again, it's a little more challenging to show the interesting stuff to characters who are one claw-swipe from death...

mikeb's picture

I think starting at 2 or 3

I think starting at 2 or 3 would be best, but I think it is possible to start it at 1st. Maybe the first plotline that introduces the players to the setting is more of a single track-type plotline that sets the position for the starting tracks is played through 1st level. Then the actual more sandbox part of the module goes from 2 to 5.

Based on other things we've discussed, I think we want to have the PCs reach 9th level at the end of the second module to segue into the third and final module in this arc.

Ok, so it sounds like we

Ok, so it sounds like we should add a few encounters before Willem Analore summons the PCs together - to introduce Jengar and give them a reason to care about him for example :)

Maybe the PCs are hired to go dungeon-diving, but find that Jengar has been there a little of them (has disarmed traps and so on). They get in too deep, and end up working with him in order to get out of the dungeon intact. He promises to meet up with them later - he has a great job that's connected to this one, but he has to do something first. They set a date to meet. (this mini-arc gets them to level 2)

The PCs are at the meeting point, but Jengar is not. William A was the quest-giver for Jengar's follow-up dungeon, and he and the PCs cross paths. Turns out, Jengar is missing, and William A wants to hire the PCs to find him...etc.

Got an idea last night

For connecting the PCs to the storyline of the module, I had an idea - have little advantages that the PCs can begin with if they connect themselves. For example, maybe they get some extra starting wealth if they enter the story owing Rokinu money, or they have a cool magical trinket if they have visited the Crypt of Dun'or as worshippers (beastfolk) already, etc. Just wanted to put this idea down, but I can expand on it, and I like it as a kind of carrot for PCs to not just create the usual orphan character with no friends or relationships.

mikeb's picture

Great idea!

I'd love to see more.

Pregens

Hey guys,

Personally if I were you I would have defined pregen's that reinforce the setting. Don't have this be an adventure that people bring their pathfinder characters through. Have it be a module that gets people excited about the DGA world.

Show them via compelling characters what makes your world special. Then you can use these iconics later.

mikeb's picture

Pregens

I think including pregens in the module would be a good idea. Thanks!

I like both

I'd like to have both - pregens as examples of coolness, and also guidelines for creating new characters to start here and bring them through future DGA modules.

So that brings us to...Dark Golden Age iconic characters.

mikeb's picture

Sandbox vs linear

I picked up the first module of Paizo's Kingmaker adventure path as it is billed as a sandbox game. Reading over it and doing more thinking, I am starting to form ideas of how we could do a sandbox that did not involve just simple exploration.

mikeb's picture

What if...

What if the purpose became to overthrow Rokinu and take Halag as their own? The PCs would seek to accomplish this in ways that they see fit. They could do it through intrigue, through working from the inside, through allying with Sascrian agents. As they carried out different actions, they could potentially affect three or four different scales that the GM secretly tracks. When they reach certain points on a given track, events are triggered.

This would be more sandboxy but with a specific purpose in mind.

(This idea brought to you by insomnia as I fail to fall asleep.)

First impressions

I'd like to drop the random wilderness encounters and replace them with some kind of meaningful encounters that are tied into the plot. I'm personally against combats that are just that - I think every combat should be a way of telling the PCs something new, revealing a mystery, moving the story forward, etc.

I also hesitate to have an encounter, particular in D&D, where an NPC forces the PCs to do something for him/her. It's just hard to sell this in a game like D&D, where the usual idiom is "If it is in front of me, I can fight it and win." For me, it's just as easy to simply give the NPC in question something the PCs need and that they can't take by force.

The witch's soul-less body should probably have Gentle Repose cast on it. Why is it being kept? Is it there to be donated to the School of Eternity perhaps? It would be interesting if, by taking the body and seeking to restore its soul, the PCs earn minor emnity from someone in the School of Eternity (who would clearly be in the business of dealing with soul-less corpses and removing souls from bodies, etc.)

I think this witch advisor of Rokinu's should also have some sort of information the PCs need. Maybe Jengar was captures because he sought out the witch to talk with her about something important, and now that she's missing, the story can't progress without her.

Ideally, actually, she's connected to one of the PCs - an ex-girlfriend? Cousin? Owes them money?

Overall, I'd like to start the module with notes on connecting the PCs to each NPC and each stage of teh story somehow. They should know who Jengar and Rokinu are. They should have heard of the crypt of Dun'or (maybe with a Knowledge roll). Etc.

mikeb's picture

Feel free to edit

While I'm sort of managing this page, please edit it with your ideas. I'll let you know if you go out of bounds. ;)

Added/changed a bunch. Let

Added/changed a bunch. Let me know (obviously I think it's all improvement :)