The Runelords RIIIISE!

I was browsing some threads on a forum the other day, and I stumbled upon an old post of mine about Burnt Offerings, the first adventure of the Rise of the Runelords adventure path from Paizo.

In the post I said, freely translating: “Wow, this is an awesome module. I’ll be talking about maybe running this for years to come.” This is an unfortunately honest statement about how good I am at starting campaigns. The post was dated November, 2007.

Well, I’m done talking. I’ve got the players, and if all goes according to plan, the first session will be on April 4th.

I’m running the game on a modified D&D3.5 ruleset, with some influence from Pathfinder RPG. I guess you could call it 3.6. Here are the character generation rules I mailed my players:

  • Ability scores generated by a 28-point buy, as per the Dungeon Master Guide.
  • Hit dice for character classes according to Pathfinder RPG Beta. Therefore, full-BAB classes have d10, middle-BAB classes have d8 and low-BAB classes have d6. Barbarians are the exception and retain their d12. There are enough dead 1st-level wizards in the graveyards already.
  • Additional material from rules supplements to be approved on a case-by-case basis. I’d prefer not to include psionics in this campaign, and dislike most variant character races. Thus far, I’ve said no to whisper gnomes and shadar-kai, and yes to grey elves and the scout class. I am a fan of the multiclass feats from Complete Scoundrel and other books of the series and am willing to write up new ones to cover gaps. I actually recommend taking a look at the regional feats in Pathfinder Campaign Setting, especially for Varisian and Shoanti characters.
  • It pays to read through Rise of the Runelords Player’s Guide, for character ideas and knowledge of the setting. Every character gets to pick a free feat from the guide.
  • Additionally, all characters receive one trait from the Pathfinder RPG traits. Elves may also pick elven traits from Elves of Golarion. The traits file can be found by registering on the Paizo website and checking My Downloads. You may also have to download the Pathfinder RPG Beta for the Traits download to appear. This is mildly annoying.
  • Characters should have some background and a reason to be in Sandpoint at the Swallowtail Festival. I am in favour of creating common backgrounds and relationships between the PCs and giving them some context within the setting.

It’s been close to a year since I’ve run anything other than Living Greyhawk or Pathfinder Society. Back then, it was Dark Heresy. I relish the chance to really run a game instead of just talking about them. PFS and LG were good, but like I’ve said before, they’re like chocolate chip cookies – tasty and mildly addictive, but not good to base your entire diet on. (Incidentally, I just tallied all my Living Greyhawk modules. 2 211 modules in total.)

Rise of the Runelords is good stuff. It makes the creative juices flow, and several of its adventures number among the finest I have read. Let’s hope I can do them justice in bringing them to life.

I will try and post updates on the campaign once it gets going.

8 thoughts on “The Runelords RIIIISE!

  1. Nope, sorry. Home game. I don’t do IRC gaming anymore. It’s hard to find enough European players so my sleeping patterns don’t get screwed up any more than they already are.

  2. My experiences with RotRL are somewhat varied. Books 1 and 2 are pure gold. Book 3 starts out ok, but gets very combat heavy towards the end. Books 4 and 5 are very combat heavy with lots of giant subtypes and big melees. Didn’t get as far as book 6.

    My advice is: make a balanced party. A front loaded DPS team will waltz through the first books and run into a meat wall of high hit die nasties from book 3 onwards.

  3. Yeah, the party consists of an elf druid, a gray elf scout, a human rogue, a human barbarian and a human cleric of Gorum. Fairly balanced, I think.

    I’ll probably be cutting down the number of fights in the later modules and then introduce material from other sources to compensate the experience points.

  4. We’ve just got to the end of the second book, playing it under 4e, of all things. It’s actually been quite fun, although I suspect we’ve missed/leapfrogged a lot of plot because fights take so darned long.

    In a few weeks, I’m going to be experimenting in the other direction, by running “Curse of the Crimson Throne” using “Labyrinth Lord”. Oh dear.

  5. I’ve DMed Burnt Offerings last year and am currently planning to re-DM it in May. I’d never run the module-as-written again – especially Thistletop is just about the least imaginative, mechanically-not-working low level dungeon I’ve ever set my eyes on. I’d recommend you to get something more dynamic. Personally, I’m going to throw in a combination of Into the Wilds by Harley Stroh (amazing work, really) and the Kobold dungeon in Kenzer’s Little Keep on the Borderlands. There are TONS of valid alternatives (e.g. the first dungeon in Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde) that won’t bore your group to death like Thistletop.

    Also, I heavily recommend leaving the “optional” dungeon in the middle for last, not only for EL reasons. That requires modifications to the story, but there it is. E.g., I relocated Malfeshnekor to that dungeon to make for a climactic encounter.

    Also, I don’t know about your DMing preferences, but I’d heavily alter the way the encounters and adventure parts are linked. It’s a complete railroad, and I for sure don’t like to spoonfeed my players all information.

    Anyway, enjoy Burnt Offerings. If you use minis (and I know you do), you should purchase the set of dungeon tiles designed by Jason Bulmahn for WotC. Basically, that set is (in effect) designed to work extremely well with the opening encounters. You get Father Zanthus’ stage, market stands, etc.

  6. Yeah, I’m making some modifications to the module, though not many. I think the first two are more or less fine as is, but I’ll be cutting out a lot of the combats from the second half of the third one onwards.

    I actually ran the first game already (and it was awesome – I hope I can get around to posting something positive on this blog for a change, over the weekend). For the goblin attack, I used the marketplace map from WotC’s Dangerous Locations: City of Peril. I picked up all of the series back when I played DDM, and CoP is especially versatile, followed by Fields of Ruin.

  7. Pingback: Rise of the Runelords – An Autopsy of a Campaign « Worlds in a Handful of Dice

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