Monday, April 20, 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse Quickstart

image by +Jay Africa 
How do you run this module? you may ask. Here's how, with page numbers and everything (c=chapter, p=page: e.g., c2p24 = chapter 2, page 24). You're looking at a single hour of prep to have all of your little ducks in row. If you don't have an hour, no biggie, you'll just have to do some page flipping.
  1. lay out annotated map of Red Larch (you have to make / print one), including location names, numbers, important NPCs, and the factions they belong to; this is for you and the players
  2. print/bookmark the wilderness encounter tables (c2p31)
  3. assign hooks (c1pp13-14) and factions (c3p41)
  4. tell them they've been sent by their factions to work together to do what their factions want them to do (c3p41), and that they have their own reasons for being here too (c1pp13-14)
  5. introduce Red Larch (ch3p41 boxed text)
  6. tell them that after asking around town that night, they're in the Helm at Highsun tavern discussing which of their rumors to follow up on first
  7. give them a list of rumors
    1. if starting at level 1, use the list on c2p21 and optionally the list on c2p22 (this lets them take any lead from the get-go, even ones that are meant for higher level PCs: recommended)
    2. if starting level 3, use the list on c2p22 (expanded upon in the list on c3p41) and optionally the list on c2p21 
  8. have them pick one to follow up on
  9. go to the person/area indicated by the rumor, give obvious info; obtaining non-obvious info is a challenge solvable by roleplaying, magic, or other lateral thinking
  10. you should now be in a loop of going to an area for more information or to take action
    1. if you get stuck, give them more information; if you don't know what information to give, take a break, flip to the earliest content they haven't been to yet, and give them the info they need to get there and why they might want to get there
    2. keep an eye out for Cult Reprisal Triggers (c3p44):
      1. when they visit  the first locale (Beliard, Dessarin Road, Shallow Graves, Summit Hall, Womford Rats)
      2. after they visit the first Haunted Keep (first: __________ second: __________ )
      3. After they visit the third Haunted Keep
    3. Keep an eye out for Cult Retaliation (c4p76)
      1. after they defeat the first prophet (________), run Dire Tidings (c4p76) when they return to civilization; note also that now the remaining prophets should descend a level to wait in the chapter 5 dungeon complexes
      2. After the party clears a second chapter 4 shrine (rooms A19, C25, B23, or E17), run Reckless Hate (c4p76) when they return to civilization
      3. After the party clears a third shrine, run Race to Destruction (c4p77) when a character sleeps
    4. Each time they return from the Fane of the Eye or finish exploring an elemental node:
      1. If an elemental node is still active, roll 1d6 and consult c5p113:
        • 1-2: if water node still active, Downpour
        • 3-4: if fire node still active, Burning Hils
        • 5-6: if earth node still active, Tortured Earth
      2. Run Counsel of Despair (c5p113) if you have not done so; or, if the air and water prophets have been defeated, introduce Haayon the Punisher via if you have not done so (c5p114).
    5. remember the structure:
      1. Level 1-3 sidetreks (detailed in chapter 6, rumors c2p21)
      2. Level 3+ rumors (c2p22)
      3. Four Haunted Keeps (c3)
      4. Four Temples (c4)
      5. Temple of the Elder Elemental Eye (c5): the fane and four elemental nodes
    6. side treks (c6p160): I don't like these because they take too long to read, and some of them ("New Management") baffle me when I try to think of how to present them as a thing to actually play. Here are their levels if you want to give rumors to them:
      1. Level 3+: New Management (c6p160): who knows what this is
      2. Level 4: Iceshield Orcs (c6p163): tower defense vs orcs, could be cool, kind of a B10 vibe
      3. Level 5: The Long Road (c6p166): bandits attack caravans, I dunno
      4. Level 6: Curse of the Fire Witch (c6p167): "Wiggan and Bertram Nettlebee have constructed an elaborate ruse"
      5. Level 8: Vale of Dancing Waters (c6p172): go to a dwarf shrine for some reason, end up killing ppl
      6. Level 9: Dark Dealings in Yartar (c6p175): stop a black market deal
      7. Level 10: Rundreth Manor (c6p179): sort of talk to a thing that isn't what it seems like to get info maybe
      8. Level 11: Halls of the Hunting Axe (c6p180): help a dwarf find a thing in a place