A City of Strangers
This week the game was delayed, which is fine with me, I can use that time for more prep. My initial ideas for this Sandbox version of Kaer Maga were that I would cannabalize the much hated Second Darkness path for it’s underworld goodness. Elements from other PF materials approaches to KM would be considered on a case by case basis, but otherwise I would roll with my own designs, from past experience, they come more viscerally since I can react faster to what my players throw at me and intimate requests for. (Without hopefully masturbating meta too much, that’s the method.)
After Reading Kaer Maga; City of Strangers, I came away with the following ideas.
Their Undercity has two areas that are open ended (Mushroom land and Underdark Forest, let’s call them.) I can use this.
Edit: The Low Forest is the subject of the Shattered Star Pathbook 3, fully detailed, all the content one could wish for AND a spongy mushroom spore shooting fae.
The Brothers of the Seal question has to be answered. What’s behind the Crypt door?
I love the Bloatmages, and especially that the Arcanist guild may not be Bloatmage friendly.
The literature on The Freeman/Bottoms movement implies their calm approaches every so often go to hell and they go slice and dice freeing slaves/killing Slavers. Obviously they are outmatched thanks to the support of the rest of the city. I find them sympathetic underdogs, but I don’t see the PCs taking up their plight unless I have really misjudged my players.
The game includes a Deux Ex; a supposed Philanthropist named Uncle Guden, who has coin to burn and a willingness to do endless good, so much so it’s speculated he’s not from around here. Like most of the Highstacks, he works only through proxies. Reading his description, my brain conjured up a rebel Archon of some level, whose actions would eventually bring those ‘Neutral Readjustment’ guys I so love into play. Anyway, I see him underwriting a lot of quests.
Widdershins; That place is shit. I can’t see a use for it yet, especially since players can’t get in.
Edit: Ha ha, that didn’t last long. I forgot the Widdershins are rich. They are. Maybe not Highstacks-rich, but quite well off, organized and basically their own ministate. They will serve a a patron, a hiding hole for several ‘Commerce League’ villains and an area all ‘city leaders’ want taken care of because of the disproportional amount of shit the Chief Bursar can raise with his standing army, the Constabulary.
Warrens; I can’t tell whether they are implying there is a serious criminal in town (indeed since almost anything from pit fighting to slavery is allowed, what’s crime?)
The biggest criminals I can see are the Brothel owner who runs the Tallow Boys spy network (lame) and Al The Moneylender. I will have to make a gang worthy of the name for the 15 levels of the Warren’s rickety arboreal maze.
Seven Swords of Sin answers this handily. The Enchantress Tigana is much too nice to waste on a throw away scenario like this, I’m saving her for Crimelord #1 of the Warrens slot. I invented Tempus the Abomination as just one of a plethora of foes in the Slaver bloc. I like the think of the Slaver Bloc regionally: Tempus is the Quadiran,
a ‘Bolted’ Katapeshan Agent of the Pactmasters, for the Ulighrim Orcs I was thinking a giant Grey Skinned Half-Fiend, for Numeria a Techno-Barbarian Lady with a HARD entourage (not that she needs them), and a masked person and mob for Razamir. Belkezen deserves a special mention, for as badass as Tigana is, I plan an Anti-Paladin of the first order and his bannermen for Belkzen. He is bloodthirsty and sworn to Asmodeus, and on the rise in Belkezen. Pcs play their cards right, he may hire them for a battle. Oppose him and they’ll buy a huge challenge at reduced benefit. Much depends on the PCs. Yeah, this will work.
The Street of Small Gods: I could sandbox the game using this street alone. Every Priest ever needs something done. I mean, Razmir alone guise.
Arcanist Guild: since they double as a monopoly, I see great use with this group as your basic backstabbing Johnson-style mission giver. I like that they could be potentially monty haul if the players negotiate right.
Bloatmage and Quadiran Weapons Designers: Unecessary since hundreds of carts worth of traders are in Downmarket each day, but I enjoyed both character’s backgrounds, so they are in.
Church of the Child Goddess; like the Crypt of the Brothers of the Seal, i have to decide whether this is a real faith or an long con. The Priestess that runs it is a real Cleric, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Accounting with descriptions of the Child-Goddess palanquins containing screaming and rocking, let’s say the touch of the Child Goddess on her young devotees is like a Madness boosted Wilder (this is a Vudrani faith after all.). I am tempted to change the main Priestess to the new Astral Armor class from Dreamscarred press.
Troll Augers: Yeah buddy, some of my favorite reading of the last ten years has been Illyra from Thieves World. Predestination contains some risks, but if my players will cough up the dough, they can get a gimpse of their future (my plans.) Why even be in the city if you won’t do this?
Pathfinder Society: 3 PFS adventures are set in KM, I have plans to acquire these to get some Society related stuff in play. I love the in game metastory that PCs who explore dungeons ‘publish’ their adventures for pay and fame. I am not read up on the Campaign Guide yet, but if there is a way to reflect this Pathfinder fame, Eando Kline level reputation here we come.
Climbing! Oh wow, so many and much climb. You can fall and have it be super bad in most places in KM, average of 11 stories in most districts, 14 and 16 respectively in Warrens rickets and Highstacks. Bis alone, jesus christ, you could fall right off the Ledge 1000ft. I am really, really tempted to double costs on all magical flight items, just to push to Arcanists monopoly and make climbing double valuable.
Evil City? Well….it’s a fair question. Out of my hands and beyond my control, my group has a stricture against evil characters, so they are mostly goody goody. That means their discomfort with KM will range from mild to severe. It’s my job to rub their noses in it.
Xanaraxas: City of Cauldborn and Vampires huh? That sounds pretty awful. The Vamps are just cool guys. Incidentally, I don’t think they would be trapped down there in their bat /mist forms if they really wanted out, so it must be cool down there.
Oh, I get it, Caulborn are the new Mind Flayers oooooooo. They are much nastier than ‘Runespawn, but I’ve been thinking they should be crawling around down there too.’ Kaer Maga’s main writer agrees with me that the Drow should have a roll in KM’s Undercity, even if that is ‘enter through a crack to scout’ initially.
Given all that, I made 3 starting jobs:
Godsmouth Heresy advanced to CR6 (A Pharasman Priest contacts the group directly or through Proxies, Pathfinder connects)
Hired as Slaver Agents to block upcoming Freemen action; Yeah, kill those abolitionists, you evil fucks. ;>
Bloatmage / Magic Weaponsmith hires group to recover a young male adventurer/former Tallow Boy he is lovesick on. (Oh grow up you babies.) This is, of course, Undercity of the Warrens where he took his first steps as an adventurer and badness ensues.
A city aquifer is now pouring vaguely changed alchemical blood, not clean drinking water, into two city districts (including Widdershins hahahaha) , the Duskwardens are preparing a heavy entry (the PCs) at Top Pay to find out what happened.
A more mundane mission, the Warrens Meat District wants the pickpockets collected (offends a nascent Thieves Guild—Limpsets Grifters or something. Maybe they aren’t all lame.)
Lets start with these:
Callistas Whore/Assassins—I really want to think on this one, I feel they may have a great role/story to offer. Possibly a door to the Drow Underdark or access control?