Thousand Thrones

The thousand threads
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Chuck
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:55 am

Chapters 1 and 2 would be great.
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skerrigan
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Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:12 am

So we played on more of Chapter 1 yesterday - having returned from the swamp the PCs go running around the Doodkanal. Despite losing a lot of excess silver in bribes they managed to do quite well, eventually getting the map to the Cultists' HQ entering the sewers and entering it.

Although the player of our Bretonnian Knight, Sir Guillame is suffering a bit from lack of motivation, asking, "Why are we following this map, rather than the Crusade. We don't know what's at the X."
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Graak
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Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:59 am

Well, Chuck, thanks for the insight and the transparency of your answers! It is very nice to understand how we got certain books/adventures (for the good or the bad).

From my experience I saved Chapter 2 masking the obligatory plot hook in a more elaborated way, still respecting the main structure of the chapter. If it can help anyone here it is (I hope to recall the relevant details, it’s been a while ...):

PC travelling by foot on the road, following the Crusade. They were badly hurt from an encounter on the road (you can insert everything you like, from beastmen to bandits to “Chp.1” ’s witch hunter’s rogue agents).
One day to Pfeifeldorf they made camp at night and saw the light of another nearby camp. A company of Strigany people approach them friendly and shares food and services. They came from Pfeifeldorf (actually they are escaping from it, they aren’t a vampire related family but they’ve read the signs and they don’t want to become the scapegoats for people hysteria and witch-hunts).
Morning comes and the two groups are about to depart when the town guards arrived and arrested everyone (it’s important PCs won’t be able to resist, hence I’ve hurt them before; surprise, targeteers pointing at them etc are always useful elements): the Strigany as scapegoats for massive poultry thievery and generic witchery and the PCs for consorting/being with them (sharing food believed to be the missing chickens?).
The Strigany were put on pillory on the town’s square for the rest on the scenario until vampire guano hits the fan; at that time they can blather some nonsensical profecy about the “bloodied ones” coming for the reaping.
The PCs got thier stuff confiscated and they were forced to help the authorities with the animals gone missing if the want to be freed with no stains on their reputation.
Add chickens missing from different citizens, a few cows gone ill, strange stuff happening, cowled figure wandering at night…stuff like that ad libitum.
Make those clues partially useless (they lead to nothing relevant for the main plot, except building atmosphere) and make the silly investigation (the one missing chicken) somehow more relevant. For example make THE chicken a rare important breed from Lustria (turkey?) or Bretonnia, or make the thievery the more recent one (it could have happened the night when the Strigany were already gone) with fresh traces ready to be followed (figuratively and not. Rain helps in deleting older traces and clues).

I know: that’s a more convoluted way to railroad the group. Nontheless it worked pretty well for us.

Added value: it puts Striganies under the spotlight and you can insert profecies blather. It could be useful for later events.

Added incentives: the Striganies could have some low-quality horses or mules. The Bailiff could promise to expropriate those animal from the Striganies to give them to PCs when the investigation is over. This way PCs should be encouraged to collaborate since if everything goes well they will gain a faster way of travel to reach the Crusade!
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Chuck
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Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:50 am

skerrigan wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:12 am
So we played on more of Chapter 1 yesterday - having returned from the swamp the PCs go running around the Doodkanal. Despite losing a lot of excess silver in bribes they managed to do quite well, eventually getting the map to the Cultists' HQ entering the sewers and entering it.

Although the player of our Bretonnian Knight, Sir Guillame is suffering a bit from lack of motivation, asking, "Why are we following this map, rather than the Crusade. We don't know what's at the X."
Uh oh -- lack of motivation and a disinterest in side quests does not bode well for Chapter 2!

Graak: that reworking of Chapter 2, very nicely done. Genius!
Graak
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Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:59 am

Chuck wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:50 am
Graak: that reworking of Chapter 2, very nicely done. Genius!

Wow, thank you for the positive feedback!

After several years of GMing I realized I hate to waste pre-written adventure, shredding them to pieces and salvaging the good bits (unless the adventure is really, really bad). In part it could be laziness for my part, but I think that someone wrote that stuff investing his time and I hate to waste that potential (NPCs, situations, clues, conspiracies)...so I usually save quite everything of a given scenario and work to adapt the starting points and very little of the main plot. Sometimes it can be a real pain though :)
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skerrigan
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Wed Jan 16, 2019 7:56 am

I'm planning to nick the idea of the Strigany caravan going to Marienburg and getting waylaid by Blausblut when they meet the PCs. Add in a ghoul/zombie/Strigoi attack and you're golden.

That's a great idea - one of the first things you really need to do to run the campaign successfully is create a working relationship between the PCs and the Strigany in the Crusade Camp, so introducing another band of them is a good step, and explains the missing chicken hook being played up.
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Graak
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Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:32 am

Go for it, I'm glad you guys like my modifications! Please let us know how it goes in play then!
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skerrigan
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Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:01 am

I thought I'd share some more of my chunderings as my players are about to begin Chapter 2 next session...

---------------

One of my major problems is Karl's true nature. Any player playing the module as written should know by the end of Chapter 1 that Karl is not the second coming of Sigmar but just a mutant, born to a swamp cult near Marienburg. This kills a lot of tension and uncertainty, especially if and when the PCs do fall under his influence.

In my playthrough (if you've listened to last month's podcast) I am playing fast and loose with this. Karl's exact nature should be ambigious, at least until the later stages of the campaign. Even then the PCs shouldn't be so sure. The campaign's later stages lives and dies based on whether or not the PCs actually care for Karl, and to a lesser extent Ahmed the Strigany lad. If they know he's a mutant, that is difficult.

To wit, I introduced the Journal of Daghbert the Maw. Amongst the mad rambling there is mention of Karl as a foundling, replacing the true-born son of the Stromfel's cultist, in much the same way of the changelings of folk lore, or the foundlings in Highlander the Series. There's also mention of a bright flash, lights in the sky and so forth.

All of which could play into the view that Karl is actually Sigmar Reborn.

Or he could be like Egg in Dying of the Light, the excellent Hogshead 1e module that is remarkably similar in some ways to the Thousand Thrones. If I ever get the time this would be a great prequel module to run that ties into TTT. Both Karl and Egg might be these moon-children.

Or maybe Sigmar did decide to come back to life as a mutant this time. You know the same way Jesus liked to hang around with those considered the fringe of society (lepers, tax collectors and bank managers).

I've also tinkered with the dates of the Storm of Chaos in my campaign so that Karl appeared round about the time Valten died/vanished at Middenheim.
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Chuck
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Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:28 am

Totally agree about Karl -- ambiguity needs to be maintained until late in the campaign. Also, I love the handouts! Strong work.
Graak
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Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:04 pm

I did the same, you guys are right!
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skerrigan
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Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:14 pm

Some of this was mentioned in the aborted expansions - especially the links to DotL's Egg.

Another thought - I've heard complaints that the PCs lack any backup or healing.

I was tempted to introduce something like the Three Miracles of Karl. That is, give Karl some more powers, which could conceivably com into play.

You see, Karl is age 4-5 or so in my run-through (though has matured swiftly, appearing more like 7-9 or however old he's meant to be). Even in the 'canon' campaign at a relatively young age he has the ability to influence people into adoring him and to even compel them not to kill him if he's threatened.

I imagine this is just the early stages of his powers - a 25 year old Karl might be nigh on unstoppable if his power grows. The Chaos/Divine energies that he at the moment cannot control give him considerable power, and make him an appealing host for entities like the Black Witch or Nagash.

Nagash's end goal in TTT's Expansions is to possess Karl and close the Warp gates, dooming the world to the Kingdom of Death. This is because at the moment Karl can influence people and fate - later on he might even gain the power to control reality itself and order it to suit his whims. So Karl-Nagash could literally close the Warp gates just by wishing it so.

Evidence of this potential power could be used during the Campaign. Maybe he lays hands on a mutant and cures its mutations, or resurrects a dead character simply by willing it really, really hard. Not something that he'll be able to do every day, or even month or year, but enough that it is noted and celebrated by the Crusade around him. And possibly something that puts him in a coma or near-death state as he's still too young to control such power.

There's some adventure hooks here somewhere - a sideplot or three involving the Crusade where the PCs aren't just dealing with Karl's latest disappearing act, or a Chaos Cult.
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Karanthir
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Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:20 am

Great ideas, and excellent work on the handouts!

I remember someone else saying that they ran TTT set pre-Storm of Chaos with the intention that Karl was a young Valten. Either way, it seems like there should be a link between the two, whether real or imagined.
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munkholt
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Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:33 pm

Lots of interesting stuff in this thread – thank you, all.
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skerrigan
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:01 am

Another thing I'm thinking of doing is replacing the NPC Helmut's role with the Grand Theogonist Johann Esmer. Once a corrupt politician Johann was exiled to Marienburg when the resurrected Volkmar returned after the Storm. Having once denounced Valten and clearly regretting it, under Karl's influence Johann has began a bit of a redemption kick - seeing Karl as Sigmar Reborn and his ticket to dethrone Volkmar.

That said I'm not sure what knock-on effect that would have for the scenario. Johann would probably have better resources than Helmut, though it could mean that there is a pro-Volkmar element of the Crusade that might be trying to assassinate him.

What do you learned gentlemen think? Adding Johann Esmer to the mix increases the epicness of the campaign (the plot of the Two Theogonists was never taken up post-Storm of Chaos) by having a Grand Theogonist involved with the Crusade.
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Jadrax
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:06 am

skerrigan wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:01 am
What do you learned gentlemen think? Adding Johann Esmer to the mix increases the epicness of the campaign (the plot of the Two Theogonists was never taken up post-Storm of Chaos) by having a Grand Theogonist involved with the Crusade.
I think that would be a good idea.

My main issue with TTT is the core crusade plot is not actually strong enough to support the side material. Anything that actually makes the game focus on the Crusade itself is to my mind going to improve it.
Karanthir
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:26 am

skerrigan wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:01 am
What do you learned gentlemen think? Adding Johann Esmer to the mix increases the epicness of the campaign (the plot of the Two Theogonists was never taken up post-Storm of Chaos) by having a Grand Theogonist involved with the Crusade.
Sounds good to me. It makes the Crusade more directly relevant to Imperial politics and adds an(other) element of internal division to the Crusade itself.
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skerrigan
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:39 am

I was more thinking about what changes Johann would make to the campaign though. After all a lot of the Crusade stuff politics peters out at Altdorf.

I've no idea why when Karl is kidnapped in Altdorf the Crusade are next seen in wartorn Wolfenberg.
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Graak
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 8:08 am

skerrigan wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:01 am

What do you learned gentlemen think? Adding Johann Esmer to the mix increases the epicness of the campaign (the plot of the Two Theogonists was never taken up post-Storm of Chaos) by having a Grand Theogonist involved with the Crusade.
Holy cow! You genius! Yes, yes and again YES! Do it!
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skerrigan
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Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:40 am

Indeed - though my thoughts were, what knock-on effects would this have.

Helmut is a priest of Sigmar but in TTT he is not particularly senior in the clergy and does not have elite guards etc. that I imagine Esmer might have.

I also think I need to brainstorm some more arcs for the Crusade that aren't vampire related. There needs to be more going on there.
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skerrigan
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Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:39 am

The next thing I'm thinking of doing is writing up some small subplots to add to the campaign. There's one - the Sad Fate of Lonely Pieter - which I briefly touched on in my own playthrough. Sadly most of my ideas came after my run of that part of the scenario - but it'd be an additional encounter in the Cursed Swamps where the PCs come across the remnants of a vampire lair.

The vampire in question, Lonely Pieter is described in TTT Expansion 2 as a Strigoi seer who lived in the Cursed Marshes and was obsessed with numerology and prophecy prior to his death. He used to be a Strigany gifted with the sight. This got him cast out of the Lodring Strigany but he was repatrioted as a prophet after his apotheosis to Vampirehood. He knows about the Vampire Prophecy of the Thousand Thrones and was slain by Hollenbach as part of the Blood Dragon's quest to eradicate Strigoi that haunt the Drakwald. This leads into Chapter 2's appearance by said gentlemen and some angry Strigany.

This'd be an encounter where the PCs and Jekyll find the smoldering remains of Pieter's lair, complete with soot-corpse and surviving writings (which I hid in a tryptich IMC, purely as I hadn't written the handouts) along with some relatively low-level combaty encounter like some bats or some such. And the kind of traps a paranoid Strigoi seer would leave lying around.

Add in his generous herb garden with an abundant supply of sophoric herbs, and a gang of both Fen Loonies (see M:SDtR) who choose the same time to drop by to investigate and try to steal some of the herbs and you have yourself a short encounter/mini-scenario that adds to TTT's overall plot as it introduces the idea of Vampire Prophecies early on.

Or the PCs could ignore it... though there is the option to railroad them with Jekyll if he's alive.
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