City adventures

The Eternal Boundary front cover

The Eternal Boundary

I’ve been running The Eternal Boundary in my Pathfinder Planescape campaign and so far I have liked how the adventure has played out even though(or because) I haven’t run it straight out of the book.

I like to do things old school these days which means that TSR adventure from mid 90s just ain’t gonna cut it without some modifications. Basically the adventure has two distinct parts as written, city/investigation adventure which is rather weak and some open ended dungeon exploration (with scripted encounters). The plot is one big evil plan by forces unknown (at the start of the adventure) that are revealed bit by bit and leads to their fortress for final showdown.

Beginning leads the party from one encounter to another and pretty much tells GM to drop certain hints and even come up with more if the players can’t figure out what is going on. It has glimmer of promise by relying on the players figuring out what is happening but I was disappointed because it forces certain encounter to players and the two starting options are boring and unimaginative.

I gave first clues about the adventure many sessions before the group started the investigation. The actual starting point for my players was one unfortunate incident with giant venomous snake in beginning parts of Barrowmaze. The party ranger miss judged his own limits and died to the snake’s poison while the party was trying to capture the snake. The ranger is great white hunter type who sells exotic animals to rich buyers and the player wanted to keep the character so I told him that this being Planescape with very high magic concentration, if he wants to get resurrected it is only matter of terms (party was about 2nd level and didn’t have the cash themselves).

The ranger was member of The Fated so his faction raised him and healed him for a service. They reinforced this with geas spell. The service was to find crazed wizard named Eliath who happens to know the location and key of a portal the faction wants to find. The trail lead to The Hive where Eliath was last seen living as beggar. One of the PC was member of Bleak Cabal so going to Hive was no problem at all.

The original adventure involved The Bleak Cabal as major source of information and potential employer in the adventure and I used them as such as well. The other faction in play was Xaositecs but their involvement didn’t seem to serve any greater purpose than provide couple of encounters and possible ally so I dropped them entirely. When plot starts to unravel the clues start pointing at Dustmen so I had enough factions without taking third aboard.

The player character started prowling around the Hive and soon found that Eliath had died in the killings that had plagued the beggars and crazies of Hive in recent weeks. PCs investigated further and found out that no one had actually been killed but put under feign death spell and hauled of to Mortuary and “cremated” to Plane of Fire. Shadowknave was the name of the wizard who did the “killings” and Toranna was the Dustie who handled the operation in Mortuary, apparently sending the “corpses” to some kind of fortress in Plane of Fire for unknown purpose. PCs went back to the Fated and their cleric confirmed that Eliath was indeed still alive.

PCs exploits included two clashes with the Snadowknave which ended up in his capture and he provided them with additional bits of information in return of his spellbook and freedom. Things started to go down hill when PCs started to tackle Toranna and Dustmen. They made two unsuccessful attacks on her with the intention to capture her for interrogation. First was attempt to charm her in the streets and another an intrusion to Mortuary in disguise. They also tried to lure Toranna out to an inn (aptly named Huge Cudgel, sometimes random tables are the best) where they planned to capture her but this only brought the Harmonium on their tail. The PCs disappeared to the night. Next morning came the wanted posters around town…

At this point the PC decided to send a letter to Toranna’s superior and reveal her schemes. This could take a while so they returned back to Barrowmaze the get more money and xp.

All in all, some things have worked in the fashion written in the adventure and some things have gone the opposite direction. My favorite so far has been how Shadowknave was treated. He being captured and interrogated was serendipitous event and allowed me to play him as something else than such black and white villainous henchmen he was in the adventure. Now he became much more shades of gray mercenary wizard type and potential future ally/contact for the PCs, they did let him go with his spellbook after all. Toranna part has been going much more by the book, the players have tried to get more info but have failed so far but that plot is proceeding and conclusion is coming.

I’ve been satisfied how I have modified the adventure, sometimes on the spot when players did something unexpected (imagine that). I know my player well enough that trying to force them through ready made encounters in certain order just doesn’t work. I’ve run my version of The Eternal Boundary with old school style where I sit silently at the end of the table until players start doing something and then telling them what happens not by actively trying to lure them to come see the cool stuff that the adventure writer wants them to see. So far it has been proceeding well and I have liked it. And I think the players have liked it as well since they keep coming back.

Another thing I’ve affirmed with this adventure is that I really like city adventures. They give players lots of freedom to approach problem from different angles and they have many resources at their disposal, both hired help and equipment to buy. City adventures don’t need too much preparation on GM’s part if you have a general idea what is going to happen. Players do something and fill most of the blanks for you and the rest can be improvised. Only crucial thing is good table of random names for all the people they are going to meet.

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