Friday, 9 October 2015

Finding a Path: Week 2

After the first Pathfinder session I ran seemed to go fairly well, I was fortunate enough to have a week off before the next session, due to one of the players being unavailable - we all agreed that with only three player characters, it would be a bit off for me to run for the other two while one missed out. So with Kenny absent for a CCG tournament, Dave ran LEGION1 the following Saturday.

I also had some reading to catch up on. When I was in the final stages of preparing for the first session, I'd found that the town I was sending my players to, Falcon's Hollow, already had quite a lot written about it in supplements that Paizo had produced. I'd picked up three smaller supplements before the first session, and picked up a fourth between the two sessions.

It turns out that if you're going to run a game in Falcon's Hollow, the following make for some good reading material:

The first two also come with a couple of handy maps - one for the whole world of Golarion, and one with a specific focus on Darkmoon Vale. The Gazetteer is a pretty good way for players new to the setting to get a decent overview of the game world, without giving away any major secrets that are likely to spoil a game.

At the end of the previous session, the characters were a day's travel outside of Falcon's Hollow, having foiled a Goblin ambush. I figured that a grateful Dwarven caravan master may well break out a keg of ale that evening, in thanks for the aid in protecting his merchandise. I also figured that he might make a useful character to get my players a bit more up to speed on the area, as well as the town of Falcon's Hollow.

Grungor Ironbeard, as I'd named the Dwarf during that first session, served as a decent way of getting some key points across, such as Falcon's Hollow being a company town, that the Mayor was a corrupt SOB, and that the sawdust got everywhere. In retrospect, I may have let this segment of the session drag on for a bit too long, but the players seemed to be having a good time riffing on each other in character. I'm still not sure why the Gnome is convinced there are Demon Werewolves in the area...

With the evening's rest out of the way, and several hangovers being nursed, the caravan was able to make its way to the River Foam, and cross on the ferry into the town itself. As I'd said the game was running in early Spring, I'd decided that the group would arrive in the middle of the First Cut festival - traditionally to mark the first day of logging, though that was less of a thing these days.

I had originally planned to write my own adventure to run for the group, but all the background reading, along with my job, hadn't left me with the time to get anything planned. As a result, I pulled out a stand-by I'd found - Hollow's Last Hope2, a module produced by Paizo for Free RPG Day back in 2007. While it was written with D&D 3.5 in mind, as it predates the Pathfinder release, the mechanics are close enough that it can mostly be run without any adaptation.

While it took a little while to get the players to bite on the hook - as they were exploring the town and enjoying the festival - once they found out about the blackscour taint that was emerging, they started to get into the adventure.

Admittedly, sending a party consisting of a Paladin, a Rogue and a Sorcerer, none of whom have taken any ranks in Survival, to traipse through the woods in search of ingredients for a cure may not have been the best idea. On the other hand, you'd've thought one of them might've taken at least one rank...

And if they haven't before now, I suspect they will once they hit third level - Kenny has already mentioned picking up something to help with that side of things in the future. Still, with the aid of one of the NPCs, they ended up with a map3 and direction to the sites they needed in the forest.

We managed to get through two of the encounters before the end of the session - a hobgoblin hunter hidden in a tree, with a trapped local fox for bait for passers-by, and the Forest Elder, where one of the required reagents could be found. While the players weren't aware, this tree harbored a tatzylwyrm, a sort of dragon snake.

While the tatzylwyrm was able to ambush the party, my poor dice-rolling meant it fluffed every attack. The Sorcerer, on the other hand, was able to trigger Color Spray while only catching the Paladin in the cone - and while Dave made his Will save, I fluffed the one for the tatzylwyrm. Cue one dead snake...

Still, the players have found the first part of the cure, as well as some treasure from the remains of a small group of woodsmen the tatzylwyrm had killed earlier. Progress, I guess.

I'm finding the pacing of this adventure a little slow so far - the party are only running into one encounter per day, so they're not really being tested yet. Still, the last segment should offset that nicely, and I'm looking forwards to seeing what I can do to the Sorcerer in the next encounter.

I'm also getting feedback that they players are enjoying the game thus far, which is probably the best thing to hear as a GM.

Next time, I should be running the second half of Hollow's Last Hope - I may well be reviewing some of the encounters, and making sure I have the Pathfinder stats for the mobs to hand, as I may need to use combat maneuvers against the players. Should be fun, I hope.

1 - His home-brew sci-fi setting, using the old West End Games Star Wars system for mechanics. One of these days I might convince him to start writing up the basics of the background, to go with the many weapons and bits of tech that he ha described already.
2 - Out of print in Dead Tree Format, but available as a free PDF download from the Paizo site.
3 - Mental note: next time you're going to give the players a map of the local area, don't give them one with letters for the planned encounters marked on it...