Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pathfinder Run #2: Amazon Runaway

My second scenario has long since come and gone. The main elements were a merchant, an unlucky town, some Amazon bandits, and an Amazon runaway; the main clues were a matching set of jewelry and a regionally popular bard duo.
probably inspired by this  (found via Zak)

The Amazons:

A Month Before the Adventure: the Amazons ambushed a carriage carrying a noblewoman and the bards. The noblewoman's jewelry was chopped up so that each Amazon could have an equal share, but the most rebellious Amazon took the best piece--a tiara--for herself and ran off with one of the bards.

For the Last Few Weeks: the Amazon runaway has been enjoying a life of hedonism in a small palisade village. She is the most celebrated member of their militia, and has gleefully helped fend off several raids from the rest of the Amazon band, who want her back. The band intercepts all travelers to or from the village. The villagers don't realize the runaway has any connection to the raiders.

In a Nearby Cave: the runaway has tied up her bard, sacrificed her only tank-beetle for its ichor, and secretly lured all the village's children away. The ichor prepares the girls for indoctrination and mutates the boys into larval tank-beetles. At night, the most fully formed larva (about 5 to 7 feet long) sneak or tunnel into the village to catch dogs and cats (for eating) and to steal the village's trade goods.

The Merchant: sends regular shipments of trade goods to this village, who take everything and send their own goods back. The last shipment is way overdue (waylaid by the Amazons), so the merchant hires the Player Characters to escort a new shipment, return with the village's goods, and to recover as much of the original shipment as possible. (Bonuses per horse, driver, wagon, and cargo--some of these are damaged beyond recovery, some are intact in the Amazon band's camp).

the duo had distinctive turtle-shell instruments
How Did It Play Out?

We started with an unusual step. I figured calling for passive spot and lore checks throughout the session would tip players off too strongly to which locations, people and objects were important, so instead I had the players make a bunch of those rolls up front, and then only called for extra rolls when they actually questioned or examined something. I think it paid off with smoother and more engaging sessions. 

First Encounter, High-Speed Road Battle: the players noticed that their wagon was being shadowed, by giant beetle(s), towards a trench newly dug across the road, wherein lay the wreckage of the merchant's first wagon. I might've been too generous with the spot check for the trench, and I definitely should've prepared a maze of treacherous terrain around it; having the beetle try to knock the wagon over was good, giving the beetle little defense against "charm" spells was not. The Amazons retreated.

Second Encounter, Hunting the Amazons: believing the Amazons to have stolen the village goods, the PCs magicked an Amazon corpse to find their camp. An attempt to disguise themselves as the sentries on duty was foiled when the watch changed, and a charging beetle split the party in three: part outside the cave tunnel, part inside, and part underfoot. Despite being outnumbered two-to-one, outmaneuvered and out-leveled by the Amazons (statted as monks with extra feats), the PCs were never really threatened--I'm going to need much better system mastery (ick*) if I want to keep using commoners and adventurers as opponents.

Third Encounter, Burning Down The House: as the villagers celebrated the PCs' success, one of the PCs noticed The Best Militia Woman distorting some of the dead bard's lyrics, and discovered that none of the other villagers had ever heard of the bards; this PC tried to seduce information from her. The player wanted and expected high skill rolls to immediately yield usable information, whereas I instead had the runaway become rattled and uncooperative so that she'd try to sneak away to pack up her lair later that night--leading the party to her lair. I still think that was the right choice, but maybe it's the kind of trick I should've introduced to the players by having an NPC use it on the party first.

Then another PC read the runaway's mind and set the village on fire as a diversion. (Also? Turns out spellcasters can produce many gallons of water every six seconds.)

Final Encounter: glassy eyed girls and antennae-headed boys blocked the lair's entrance with a torchlight soccer game, while those farther gone were having tea parties inside (the larva doing their best to respond with humanlike posture and noises). Others worked busily on unclear tasks. I remember parley failed, and the party tried to save the bard without harming the kids; I'm not sure if they had a way to cure the kids or not.

* the number of character options, spells and magic items available in our campaign FAR exceeds the number of such things I care to be familiar with.

1 comment :

  1. Yeah, that last note seems to be a recurring hurdle for D&D. Still, it sounds like a lot of fun.