Thousand Thrones

The thousand threads
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skerrigan
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:37 pm

I've been running The Thousand Thrones for a few sessions and I think in one or two sessions the characters will be in Pfeifeldorf. We've been podcasting it at http://anchor.fm/peril

Chuck - An Unquiet Place was your contribution to that campaign. I was wondering if you had any advice, stories or other apocrypha about working on Thrones?

Was there anything you'd do differently?

I feel it's a good scenario though it is a bit constrained by the surrounding campaign and would make a great one off as well.

In other playthroughs this has been where derailing has begun. PCs don't like the mistaken identity and chicken or stocks choice. In my campaign they will be trying to get an audience with the Dying Lord to claim back a parton's ring.

So any advice definitely wanted!
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Chuck
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:00 pm

I apologize in advance for Chapter 2. My warrant was to "highlight the day to day life in an actual village in the Empire" and I had what I thought was a neat little investigative scenario and then halfway through the call came from above: "Put vampires in!" -- I guess in an effort to sell "Night's Dark Masters" which was then just released. I shoe-horned in a Blood Dragon vampire the best I could but the scenario was really blown to pieces.

I advise changing the missing animals to missing humans to give it more of a sense of urgency for the PCs who are fresh on the hunt for the cult of the child, and remove the railroading at the beginning -- Chapter 1 was originally supposed to end with the players on the run from the law. Otherwise I think there are some good suggestions from Liber Fanatica if you haven't already checked there.

Better yet! Skip it entirely and go straight to Chapter 3.
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Mister Moe
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:24 pm

"Better yet! Skip it entirely and go straight to Chapter 3."

I apologize for ignoring your effords, Chuck, but this is exactly what we've done. There was no reasonable way of implementing the scenario into the campaign. And it does not contribute at all to the campaign progress.
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skerrigan
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Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:10 am

Welll, I wasn't expecting the author to tell me to skip his chapter. :D

The fate of Hollenbach is actually pretty important to the metaplot of TTT.

We'll be visiting an Unquiet Place but with PC specific hooks for them to investigate and I may even give them the opportunity to stay and hunt down some of the Strigany in their lair after the scenario concludes by using some of the later expansions material. I imagine s the capture of Hollenbach and likely massacre of the Blausblut might leave a bad taste in their mouth, so Wendel Ort - or whoever survives might offer the PCs a chance for revenge (cue Lost Boy's style montage of vampire equipment slaying equipment). Unfortunately both Hollenbach and the leaders will be gone by then.

What was your original villain in Chapter 2 then? A Blood Cult?

Were the Vampires an afterthought in the campaign? That would certainly explain one of the major problems with the campaign as written - there is no throughline for them from the PCs perspective, and the Thousand Thrones prophecy is never really laid out to the PCs.

Just out of interest - the PCs were meant to be on the run from the law at the end of Chapter 1? Was Chapter 1 always set in Marienburg? Why would authorities in the Empire care about PCs who are wanted for stuff in Marienburg?

What was the original plan for Ch1 then?
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Chuck
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Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:46 am

The biggest problem with the Thousand Thrones is that we had a very loose skeleton of an overall plot but we were all writing at the same time. So very important details that would have been helpful for one chapter weren't available to the authors of other chapters until very very late in the game. Poor Rob Schwalb had the job of editing everything and trying to make it all work together, all the while writing his own chapter at the same time. He actually did so much editing/rewriting that he got cowriter credit on a few chapters.

This was all 10+ years ago so the details are fuzzy but my original idea for "An Unquiet Peace" was for the PCs to have to choose between supporting a corrupt, violent, and decadent older brother ascend to power in the little village of Pfeifeldorf or ally with the better, younger brother in a conspiracy to murder the elder one. This investigation and the choice at the end were supposed to be lightened up by humorous run-ins with villagers. That didn't work out very well either. The "chicken hunt" is a bit of a troll on characters who take themselves too seriously -- but against the backdrop of the prophecy about the child, where the PCs really do have some urgency and really are on an important mission, it just serves to anger them. Being railroaded into it makes the situation even worse.

The call for the Vampires came after we had turned in our drafts for the halfway mark -- each chapter was supposed to be 20,000 words, so everyone had, in theory, written 10,000 by that point. Then someone from above -- Kate Flack, maybe? -- gave us a directive to add each of the major vampire clans to the story, and feature them in as many chapters as possible. I was given the Blood Dragon vampire, and I think I was told to have the Strigany capture him and carry him away so he could be featured in a later chapter. I tried to work in the vampires as best I could, and it entailed quite a bit of rewriting those first 10,000 words, but I wasn't very successful and the adventure suffered for it.

Working on the Thousand Thrones soured me on writing professionally. I think I do better work when I have full control over all aspects of the creative process. But I am grateful to Kate Flack, Rob Schwalb, and Dave Allen for giving me the opportunity to write for WFRP in the first place. And, for better or for worse, my name is on an official book in the WFRP universe.
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Chuck
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Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:46 am

Mister Moe wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:24 pm
"Better yet! Skip it entirely and go straight to Chapter 3."

I apologize for ignoring your effords, Chuck, but this is exactly what we've done. There was no reasonable way of implementing the scenario into the campaign. And it does not contribute at all to the campaign progress.
I approve this message.
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skerrigan
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Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:27 pm

Thanks Chuck - your insights are really appreciated and I can see how that writing process would be frustrating. If it's any consolation it is clear when you wrote Noblesse Oblige and your other efforts that when given free-reign you are an excellent writer.

This blog summarises it best...
I think a lot of WFRP2e's adventure flaws came from the fact a lot of the higher-ups didn't know what they were doing with regards to how to edit a scenario. Case in point Jack Bauer in Ashes of Middenheim - in fact it's strange Graeme Davis never wrote for WFRP2e again, given how involved he is with 3e and 4e.

It does sound like TTT couldn't decide if it wanted to be a campaign about religious fanaticism, or about vampires and ends up being neither.

None the less I am determined to push on and run it. That said I think the kernel of which brother to save/back might be a useful way to restore player agency. At them moment the flaw in the scenario is the PCs are just observers by the end. The moral dilemma of saving the wicked but rightful ruler or the scheming but ultimately better-suited younger brother is an interesting one.

I'll be using the Liber Fanatica expansions somewhat, though I'm putting my own spin on things. Hollenbach, t che vampire, actually spends a lot of the campaign in the Crusade according to the Expansions (it's not like the Strigoi going to fly him all the way to Kislev).

Before the PCs leave Marienburg, but one of their sponsors asks them to stop by Pfeifeldorf to request the return of a family heirloom - a mysterious ring that was gifted to Lord Lorentz von Spieritz during a bout of youthful indiscretion (eye-lids batted at the knight in the party). This probably won't send alarm bells ringingt, but the patron is Lady Selina Riveia (the vampiress, who appears in the intro, the von Spieritz family heirloom she wants as it might be the ring of Vashanesh - remember they gifted the lands for 'services').

PCs are making their way through the forest, they encounter the Strigoi and it's really scary until they bump into the Blusblaut, who escort them to town. Mention of weird figures having always been in the forest, but being drawn out by all the crusade.

Enquiries about meeting the local lord, even with a letter of introduction, are brushed off as the Lord is rather busy dying. Of course if the PCs investigate this chicken/missing peasants stuff Zecharius will see what he can do.

The scenario then pretty much proceeds as before...

Instead of just kicking them out of town at the end, the morning after the crypt expedition the PCs are asked to stay and help out - the Crusade is making slow progress and they're close (plus supposedly Roderick the Witch Hunter, another employer, has already infiltrated it). Either way, Lord Lorentz dies of his illness and at this point their decisions affect which von Speier inherits (assuming both of them survived the battle in the crypts). There's also the option to track/pursue the Strigoi into their caves with the surviving Blusblaut, which mgiht get them some information about WTF all that stuff in the crypt was about and get them their first mention of the Thousand Thrones Prophecy,, but whatever the PCs decide they get their ring - they've earned it by that point.

... or I could just skip Chapter 2, but that seems a shame.
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Chuck
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Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:02 pm

I admire your persistence. Your ideas are sound, and I hope they make for an enjoyable experience. I really like the early meeting with the Strigoi and the rescue of the PCs by the Blausblut. That should play much better.

I think given more time and a narrower focus, Thousand Thrones could have been a great campaign. But I also admit my own responsibility in not being as engaged with the other chapters as I should have, and my own irritation at editorial interference probably undermined my effectiveness as well. I've often thought of revisiting "An Unquiet Peace" with an eye toward fixing its many problems and better tying it into the overall campaign at large, but since Games Workshop now owns the original material that would be of dubious legality at best. In any case, I'm not sure it would be worth the effort at this point.

Let me know how it goes!
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skerrigan
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Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:24 pm

Yeah, I am a persistent sort. I'll drop you a line when we play the chapter with the podcast episodes.

While The Enemy Within is getting a director's cut The Thousand Thrones really does need a massive revision. Especially since the aftermath of the Storm of Chaos fizzled out and it felt like WFRP2 never did anything really to advance that timeline.

I've a whole bunch of changes and tweaks I was thinking about- I was thinking about replacing the kid's chief priest Helmut with Grand Theogonist Johann Esmer on a born again/redemption kick - nothing was ever done with that potentially interesting NPC.

I'd been thinking if I ever get through all of this I'd write it up all my changes and additions as a companion volume for TTT - a bit like the Masks of Nyarlathotep companion Chaosium did a while back. I've already redone some of the maps (like a Marienburg map, which is inexplicably missing from the book, along with all the other city maps. If I ever do this can I pick your brains?
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Mackbraten
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Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:52 pm

What a coincidence. I recently bought the TTT book for my collection as I heard nothing but good about it. I have just roughly read in it so these insights are good to know. Since I plan on playing it with CoC ruleset and in German, I have to edit the camapign nevertheless and now I can probably weave in some of Skerrigans ideas. I'm in no hurry so I even may use the companion you're talking about.
Karanthir
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Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:31 am

I'd love to run TTT (converted to WFRP3) one day so the book doesn't just sit on my shelf forever not being used. Me and another one of my group got a bit soured on it listening to the Reckless Dice playthrough (which went wrong for a variety of reasons not only related to the campaign itself), and I've read a few review that also highlight the issues. But I do think it has a lot of potential, even if it needs a lot of effort to make it work. I will be following this thread for ideas and look forward to any companion that might appear in the future!
Jadrax
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Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:41 am

I think the main issue with TTT is the through-plot is pretty poor and often actually frustrating. It works much better as a collection of on-off scenarios to drop in your game when needed.
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skerrigan
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Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:29 am

I've listened to that too - Reckless Dice went wrong when a series of bad calls from both players and GM meant their only proactive and heroic character became a depressed Nurgle worshipping mutant who still hadn't turned in his PC badge.

In a hilarious moment the other two party members leave him tied up next to the Nurgley mutator rats to go wash/save themselves and then come back too late - he's now a full-blown mutant

There's some fantastic roleplaying from the mutated player where the character assumes Karl might be able to heal him, goes to the tent and discovers their saviour is gone and dramatically reveals to the Helmut the High Priest he is a mutant

The GM should have killed him off at that point and given the player bonus XP for great roleplaying for his next character but instead the other PCs distract Helmut and the PC runs off to spend the next 12 sessions or so slowly going evil and being no use to the party... and when they return to the Crusade Helmut has conveniently forgotten one of the party is a mutant.

... But if you think that one went wrong, you should hear the RPGMP3.com playthrough - especially the Chapter 2 playthrough (which ended the campaign).

Karanthir wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:31 am
Me and another one of my group got a bit soured on it listening to the Reckless Dice playthrough (which went wrong for a variety of reasons not only related to the campaign itself),
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mormegil
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Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:52 pm

My personal issue with TTT is that the players are not much involved in the story and their actions affect very little. It has great atmosphere, interesting story, but it need much DM fiat to keep the party going.
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Chuck
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Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:54 pm

skerrigan wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:29 am
... But if you think that one went wrong, you should hear the RPGMP3.com playthrough - especially the Chapter 2 playthrough (which ended the campaign).
Another notch on my belt!
Karanthir
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Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:32 am

skerrigan wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:29 am
... But if you think that one went wrong, you should hear the RPGMP3.com playthrough - especially the Chapter 2 playthrough (which ended the campaign).

Ooo, now I'm intrigued! I don't really listen to other podcasts much, but I've got that one queued up now.

Agree with all your points about the Reckless Dice playthrough. Some great roleplaying, but some equally dubious decisions.
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skerrigan
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Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:43 am

As a Brit it's amusing as it's a Brit running from a bunch of Texans, so you end up with a mental image of four Yosemite Sams. It's available here.
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fastjack
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Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:58 am

I ran this a few years ago and it was the adventure that nearly broke me, I started making changes as I wanted to complete what we had started.

My advice is you do need extra prep to make some of the moving parts feel special to the PCs. There are rails on this adventure that if your players are ok with they can stay on. My group don’t like such things so I needed to improvise.

This post was originally on STS but I have expanded it a little...

TLDR: Needs a lot of work to make awesome, but has some great parts
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So for those who want to know what I changed please read below. If not that is also ok. Sorry this is a long post

Chapter 2 : added some fluff / rumours in that the PCs decided were so interesting that they went to a village to watch a witch burning.

Then there is the village! I had them looking for a large chicken and then just as the PCs were going to go into the Mausoleum I had a 2 episode flash back set 40 years previously. The link was Mason who in the book was an old man with issues, but in the flash backs he was the hero

Part one used the tower from TTT expansion #2 and it was partly destroyed at the end. This was the first time I introduced Hollenbach and there was a fight on top of the tower
Part 2 was loosely based on the upper 2 levels of the Lure of Liche lord? Basically they recover the cryptex and all but one character survived.

Chapter 3/4 : bit about the travelling into Altdorf via a sewer entrance and a fight with some elementals. This used Jackdays elementals supplement and the spirit of the dungeon from the Grail Knights Adventure but with more mud/sewerage. Felt it was a good way to get into the city and made the PCs annoyed about losing the boy

At the Inn I replaced the Elves with some Geordie Knights ( basically the Pratchett Nac Mac Feegles crossed with people from a TV show called Geordie shore ). I am from the North east so the accent was easy to do

Chapter 5 : added some extra bits for travelling and created some new sub plots

Chapter 6 : another flash back set 2 years ago that featured the same cryptex, this one was in Wolfenburg. Back in the present day I inserted a mini adventure that saw the PCs retrieve a sword of light this had them visit a decrepit castle that the dwarf thought was intact. ( think the priest at end of Erik the Viking when they get to Valhalla )

Chapter 7 : used the rest of the TTT expansion #2 and made the tower in need of repair. ( think Death Star in Jedi ). at the end of this chapter I had a fight that the PCs lost with Kislev forces - using creatures from the Queen of the Ice Realm book

Chapter 8 : had the PCs wake up in a prison up in Kislev , as I was suffering from GM burnout I cut all of the travelling.

Chapter 9 : ran as written as needed a break from all that was GMing, which the Players felt was a poor ending after all of the other plot changes. But as the years roll by they have started to see that it was a suitable ending

Post campaign : flash back set a few weeks before the opening chapter, in which the players act as the Geordie Knights on a stag do set in Marienburg. Very loosely based on the Hangover film. This was a comedy fun episode to close down the campaign. This would be my convention module if I ever got to run one

I do have some notes and puzzles I set, and it does make me wonder how much time I put into this

If need be I can dig out my notes, but the expansions are great and add extra flavour. My group and I had a blast with this, after we finished this we haven’t been back to the Old World.

I think I wrote nearly as much as there is in the book!!!
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Chuck
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Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:29 am

Fastjack, do you have all of your work collected? I'd love to see it.
fastjack
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:09 am

most of it is collected, which chapter do you want to start with?
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