I’m currently prepping for the last instalment of our Rise Of The Runelords campaign, which means writing up my own notes on the adventure rather than just blindly following what’s written in the adventure path book.
It’s not just that I want to add a bit more detail to the adventure as written, but I find my thought processes work differently to that of the authors, and writing the notes in the way that is best for prompting my own memory helps a lot. Often with pre-written adventures I find that the sort of information that I need to have on hand at a particular point is included in a completely different section, or not at all.
I generally use Google Docs for this, detailing different topics and sections in their own documents to make it as easy as possible to find the necessary information.
For example, the initial part of the adventure concerns trying to find the lost city of Xin-Shalast by following up clues from a previous expedition. However, there isn’t a clearly defined timeline for that expedition, and what information there is isn’t where I’d expect to find it. Writing my own notes in the order I’d expect to use that information makes running the game a lot easier.
There’s also major challenges in the adventure which are actually pretty trivial for a group of level 15+ characters. What happens when the entire party is flying? Or has access to certain divination spells? These sort of questions often seem to be ignored in adventure paths.
I’ve also found that listening to some actual play recordings of the game have helped in figuring out what to expect. The d100 Pathfinders channel on YouTube has been good for this, and they seem to have recorded sessions for a lot of different adventure paths.
Using Investigation Skills
Military Encampment Example
- DC 10: There’s about three hundred people here, built around a central cluster of large tents.
- DC 15: There are a few patrols around the outside of the encampment, covering the surrounding woods. Maybe a third of the soldiers are cavalry.
- DC 20: The watch towers are manned with archers. There may be two or three different groups of soldiers here.
- DC 8: There is an encampment here of around a couple of hundred soldiers, plus about half that again of camp followers. About a third of the soldiers are cavalry.
- DC 12: There seem to be three different factions amongst the soldiers, the largest of which is in the middle of the camp and has the nicest tents belonging to Baron Feldston. The watch towers are manned, and suggest that the camp is semi-permanent. Most of the patrols will be for hunting and foraging.
- DC 16: One of the factions seems to be the Blue Falcon mercenary company, known for being loyal to whomever is paying them the most. They are mostly infantry and archers. The third and smallest faction is of Baron Gordright. The soldiers seem to be alert, but comfortable and not expecting trouble.
- DC 20: There is definitely some tension between the groups following the two Barons.
- DC 15: The banners of Baron Feldston fly at the centre of the camp. He is known to difficult to work with, and driven by passion rather than logical thinking.
- DC 20: Towards one side of the encampment are the banners of Baron Gordright, who has had disagreements with Baron Feldston previously. There must be something going on which is causing the two lords to be working together.
- DC 25: You heard recently that the sister of Baron Gordright had gone missing about a month ago, and he had vowed to find those responsible and enact severe punishment.