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Concerns regarding structure and the "flow of clues" in RotRL, book 2

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  • Concerns regarding structure and the "flow of clues" in RotRL, book 2

    Obvious spoiler alert for those not going to GM the adventure!

    About halfway through book 2 by now, and I have a few issues with the way this adventure is designed.
    I'm not familiar enough with the Paizo source material (and I don't have access to it anymore) to know if this is a legacy thing. But even if it is, I still think some improvement is needed.

    I have two issues:

    1) First and foremost, the clue (singular!) to point the PCs in the direction of the Seven's Sawmill is hidden in a hard-to-find secret compartment in a house with few clues leading to it already. Getting the PCs to even go to Magnimar in the first place is going to be hard enough, let alone steer them towards the house.... but finding that chest? Not a chance
    Forget the stuff about the lion heads - I've yet to meet a PC who would figure that out.

    Easiest solution is just to place the deed on Alderns body so the PCs can skip the house. But even then you need at least two more clues to point the PCs to Magnimar and the mill. It's called the 3-clue-rule for a reason - PCs are stupid and no plot survives first contact with them.
    You can use the Faceless Stalkers as a random encounter since they're fun - especially if PCs aren't familiar with them from other games. Save the house-plans for when your PCs want to build/buy/steal a house - you know they're gonna do it anyway.

    2) What's the point of the upper floors of Foxglove Manor? So much space and work is dedicated to them but truth be told I'm going to be hard pressed coercing my players to keep exploring after the first haunt or two (especially since they are so deadly!). I love the mood and all but....
    Everyone knows the evil lich is in the basement in every single haunted house, and you can go there from the hall. Even if you make the doors unbreakable so the PCs areforced to go after the key, they're just going to blow a hole in the floor next to the door or dig in from the outside (yes, that has happened to me before - crafty buggers).

  • #2
    We not changing any plot elements from the original Adventure Path, so you'll have to make those changes when you run it.

    Last edited by Donald Schepis; 05-30-2021, 03:20 PM. Reason: Typo


    • Boones101
      Boones101 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the quick reply! I totally understand why you aren't allowed to change the source material. Besides, the task is huge enough as is! I asked a friend who GM'd the PF version, and he said this was a common enough problem back in the days that many solutions and extra clues float around the Paizo boards. I'll just "borrow" some of those

  • #3
    Originally posted by Boones101 View Post
    the clue (singular!) to point the PCs in the direction of the Seven's Sawmill is hidden in a hard-to-find secret compartment in a house with few clues leading to it already
    Oof, that sounds like a real problem. If <X> needs to happen for the plot to move forward, the worst thing you can do is make <X> something easily missed or tied to a failure condition. If that's not something that the SP team is legally allowed to fix, then it sounds like we might need to compile an unofficial "suggested tweaks for ROTR" thread so that prospective GMs have a guide to what minor changes are necessary for the adventure path.

    (Disclaimer: I haven't had a chance to read the ROTR stuff yet, so I'm going by your description.)


    • #4
      Hey guys,

      Book two of ROTR is well known for having a sometimes difficult-to-follow murder mystery. As stated in the thread, please know that spoilers will follow.

      First, a lot of the progression of this book will depend on your players. Those seeking the quickest route to the next fight may have a harder time. The Foxglove Manor for example depends on if the heroes are concerned about the crying they keep hearing above them. It is very possible most groups will move straight to the basement and there isn't much you can do (or need to do) if they want to ignore the rest of the manor.

      If they do follow the sounds of crying, however, they will discover an undead that will make them question what they think of as evil, know more about the evil deeds Aldern had done, and gain an ally for the final showdown with their old acquaintance.

      As for the one clue issue, I should be able to make that one more obvious for players to find. There was another instance where the only clue was hidden and I made it obvious so the story doesn't get stuck due to a failed skill roll. This is just one I missed. However, I can't move the clue from its location and event to a different place and event. If it makes it easier for you and your players, we all house rule things

      Thanks and keep the great feedback coming!

      - Mike


      • pkitty
        pkitty commented
        Editing a comment
        If you can't move the clue, just make sure it stands out (e.g., doesn't require a Notice check to spot). Just add a note making sure the GM understands that it's important that the players find that clue, because it would suck if the GM didn't realize the importance of it until after the scene had passed, and then had to backpedal.

    • #5
      If the clue is essential to move the plot forward then the players must get it, PC failure then means there is a cost to them not that they don't get the clue.
      2 Examples
      Players roll notice to find a clue, if they fail then it takes a lot longer to find and they have to make a Vigour roll to avoid Fatigue
      Players are using Streetwise to track someone down. Failure doesn't prevent them finding the contact but it does mean the villain's henchmen find out they are looking and ambush them en route.


      • #6
        When I ran this adventure years ago, I got the group to Magnimar by having them become aware of more ritual murders (perpetrated by the Norgorber cultists in the city) with the same MO (carving the Sideheron into the victim's bodies) as the murders comitted by His Lordship in Sandpoint.

        I think I put the deed to the Foxglove townhouse in Misgivings, so when the party went to check it out, they encountered the occupants (and got into a fight).

        I think I got them to the sawmill by leaving wood shavings at various crime scenes, pretty sure that was not in the adventure as written.

        Last edited by mikeawmids; 06-02-2021, 01:23 PM.


        • Boones101
          Boones101 commented
          Editing a comment
          Brilliant ideas, thanks!

          Btw. I used to love reading your actual play posts on and I think I've read every single post

        • mikeawmids
          mikeawmids commented
          Editing a comment
          Wow, thanks for reading!

          I'm running homebrew D&D5e at the moment, but hoping to start a SWADE conversion of Curse of the Crimson Throne later this year.