Our heroes (?) continue in their shenanigans in Riddleport in Reavers on the Seas of Fate: Death in Riddleport, Part I. I’ve been borrowing from Green Ronin’s excellent Freeport setting to flesh out the pirate haven of Riddleport and here’s where we kick into their classic adventure, Death in Freeport, but adapted to Riddleport and generally getting beefed up.
Seventh Session (14 page pdf), “Death in Riddleport, Part I” – Crimelord Avery Slyeg makes the PCs an offer they can’t refuse, so they hunt down the Splithog Pauper (the leader of the criminal gang from “St. Casperian’s Salvation”). And they look for their kidnapped friend Vincenz – rubbing elbows with Cyphermages requires them to clean up a bit. The practical and moral dilemmas get harder as they work to rescue their friend.
I was pretty happy with this session. The trick to a good campaign is having interesting NPCs that the PCs believe in enough to deal with realistically, and this session was all about that. Man, the Splithog Pauper has gone from a side sub-boss with no real personality – less backstory than the average Paizo NPC, really – to a major player. The first time he escaped, the PCs found his disguise kit and decided he was a master of disguise – to the point that as they were walking out right after the fight, they interrogated a legless homeless guy to ensure he wasn’t the Pauper in disguise. This time, he lived up to their expectations by being disguised as a peg-legged pirate captain. Once they caught him and took him back for interrogation, he managed to talk his way out by trading the location of his hidden treasure for his life, and after they let him go, he told them the treasure was in the artificial leg from his disguise they already had in hand. They were all impressed and like “Damn, he totally conned us! That took balls of steel!” Now they’re convinced he’s Golarion’s answer to James Bond. DM pro tip: every time the PCs decide an NPC is really bad ass, give them a level. Ding!
And besides the Pauper, the interactions with Avery Slyeg, Samaritha, and Iesha are all going well. When the PCs are taking NPCs as or more seriously than fights or loot then you can get some real stories going.
Other things I was proud of – I don’t like when NPCs know things they shouldn’t; I hate the “hivemind complex.” So the Pauper had a signal arranged – if he started singing “What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor,” that meant trouble, and his new rent-a-goons should come downstairs shooting. Well, the PCs were spread all over the bar doing various things and the goons had never seen them before, so they just started drive-by style random shooting at anyone that looked dangerous. And in turn, that galvanized the PCs much more to immediate action than a standard thug attack.
During this session I made use of two of my custom rulesets – the gather information/random encounter/rumor combo I discussed in Life in the Big City – Gather Information, and the chase rules I laid out in Life In The Big City – Chase Rules. Both chases (the Pauper and Enzo) went well; I think after another use or two the chase rules will be nice and solid. The trick is to not make them too much of a “separate minigame” that causes problems with interactions with all the skills/feats/spells/etc of 3.5e play.
Next session – some shockingly brutal fights!