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Fortress of the Stone Giants

This week we finished our last session of the fourth Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder adventure, Fortress of the Stone Giants. This one seemed to take longer than any of the others, though part of that may have been due to several missed sessions which stretched things out.

As with all the adventures in the series (so far), it's very railroaded in its assumptions about how players will tackle it, but has some options to take some very wrong turns. Right near the start, there's a possibility to leap into the fifth adventure, which the group very nearly did (which would have possibly lead to a very quick TPK). Actually, that possibility is also at the start of the first adventure, where it suggests laying some clues to a hidden location (something I avoided doing, since I figured there was a high probability of them following up on them, and thereby ending the campaign very quickly).

For the final storming of Jorgenfist, there are multiple routes in, but it pretty much assumes they'll go in the front door. Going in the back door avoids plot clues, and more importantly avoids a large chunk of XP which means the PCs are lower level than they 'should' be by the time they meet the big bad. Fortunately for them they decided at the end of a fight that they were too badly beaten to continue, and fled out. Which gave me an opportunity to bring the plot to them and encourage them to explore a bit more first before leaping right to the end.

Having said all that, they did reasonably well. I've actually switched to using the medium XP progression for the adventure path (it recommends fast XP progression), which has given me the opportunity to add in some side quests and flesh out a few things. Despite the extra quests, they were still lower level at the end than they 'should' have been. They've finished the adventure at level 12, when it's recommended that they should be close to level 14.

From an adventure balance perspective, this was probably a good thing. It seems to me that the adventure is either a bit on the easy side, or my group is very well optimised. It may be a bit of both. The group's fighter can easily dish out over 100 hitpoints of damage a round, and the second front line character is almost unhittable (as well as also dishing out respectable damage). Few opponents last more than a round, so it's rare for the group to take lots of damage.

I have also allowing the use of Hero Points, and they did burn through quite a few of those (at least twice to avoid character death when fighting more magic orientated foes), so possibly it's not entirely one sided. Though Hero Points remove the threat of death to some extent, they're a limited resource that can't be easily recovered (gain one per level, to a maximum of 3, and you need to burn 2 to avoid death), so I'm reasonably happy with their use. For a railroaded adventure path like this, they're working well since they keep the campaign moving. I probably wouldn't use them quite so much in a more sandboxed game.

All in all, I think it went well, and players seem to be enjoying themselves (at least they say they are). The lower than expected character levels is making things more of an interesting challenge without making it too hard, and means I have the option of slotting in something between the end of this adventure and the beginning of the next one.

We're going to switch to a game of 7th Sea next, so I'll probably run the fifth adventure, Sins of the Saviours sometime later next year.

blog/20161221_fortress_of_the_stone_giants.txt · Last modified: 2016/12/21 11:30 by sam