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PF New GM Advice - Curse of the Crimson Throne

SpyDarling

Registered User
I am a moderately experienced player who is GM'ing for the first time.

I am planning to run CoCT for a group of four enthusiastic players. One is new to Pathfinder, three are entirely new to all RPG.

To add onto the difficulty, we are not local to each other. We will play the first session live during a visit, but after that it is all webcam and virtual tabletop.

Here is what I have done so far to prepare Edge of Anarchy:
- completely read the first AP
- converted from 3.5 to Pathfinder.
- uploaded maps of major areas, as well as a few for random encounters, if needed. Also, for color, a map that is just a harrow reader's table where we can recap previous sessions.
- helped two players create characters with backstory. An elf wizard of transmutation, expelled after being framed by his brother for murder. An elf rogue carnivalist, seeking payback for a shiver-addicted friend, who will turn out to be the wizard's brother. A falconer ranger has not been fleshed out yet, and a fourth character has not been decided.

Here is where I want to accomplish:
I want to create as immersive an experience for a group that is unfamiliar with the rules. Once an battle breaks out, what rules can I hit them with at the start, and what can I be safe to leave out until later without looking inconsistent?
What are likeliest time sinks for new GM's and what can I plan to alleviate those periods to allow the group to stay engaged?
Any other tips, game or AP specific.

All help is appreciated.
 

Crothian

Villager
I would save things like grapple, disarm, and sunder for later. They aren't hard mechanics just different a can be a little odd.

For the AP I would make the first adventure last a little longer by stretching it out the days it takes to complete. I would use that time to establish what the city is like, how the ruler is, and let the PCs immerse themselves in it. I would do that because things change quickly in the AP and to make sure the PCs understand how things change I would want them to have a clear picture of how things used to be.

I haven't done a full read of the AP for a while but in general with the AP's I like to include NPCs that are introduced later in the adventure path earlier. Dropping the character's name or just establishing who they are can make it feel more natural when the NPC is brought in. I do the same with events that can be foreshadowed or groups. I also try to do more with the gods. The Pathfinder setting is so rich and interesting that I like to show it off when I can even if the AP doesn't need it. Have a NPC from Cheliax show up just to show that they are jerks. Have an Andorian come and try to promote their beliefs on people. You can really show off a few different countries and types of people and make the world feel more alive. If you are looking to do another AP when this is over you can try to include bits of info on those places so the Players have more of an understanding on what it means to play Carrion Crown set in Ustalav because they remember the NPC that was from there that was all gothic like but a cool dude.
 

Kinak

Villager
Sounds like you're doing great so far!

As far as rules, I tend to delay explanations for a anything that isn't immediately visible on the character sheet. When someone tries to use a combat maneuver, I tell them how it works. When someone asks about casting in melee, I explain casting defensively. I've found you can usually leave explanation of 5' steps until later as well, but that's one of the finickiest ones.

We just introduced a new player a few days ago and the introduction was sort of "Here's your character sheet. Roll d20 (the round one) and add stuff. Here's where to find your skills, saves, and attribute bonuses. Here are your attacks."

We felt dumb because we forgot to explain initiative until the start of combat, but that wasn't too bad. He dropped right in other than that.
[MENTION=232]Crothian[/MENTION] is absolutely right on weaving threads in early. The AP issues were released monthly, so sometimes the early parts don't link firmly with the later parts. Look for places you can sneak in extra foreshadowing.

Cheers!
Kinak
 

SpyDarling

Registered User
Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. I like the idea of working human ethnic groups from the rest of the world in, though I might wanna keep things kinda tight on Korvosa. Introducing an entitled noble from Cheliax may be great to give frame of reference to understand the Queen, without giving anything away.

Now, I have only read the first installment, and may not have the time to get through the others before I begin. Is there anyone specific that you think would be more valuable to foreshadow (Cressida? Devargo? Trinia?)? Or is there a name I should jump ahead to just to work a mention in now to revisit later?
 

Starfox

Villager
I feel the very beginning of Crimson Throne is the most important. When I played this, I used a LOT of filler between the start of the adventure and the murder of the king. This gave the players some time to identify with the city and its lovable but flawed character. While you might not want to put in as much filler as I did (close to a year's worth of it, actually), if you can find some nice city adventures that you can localize in Korvosa, that can be a great help.

Here is a list of 1-st season pathfinder society adventures I used for this, all localized in Korvosa:
Silent Tide
Mists of Mwangi
Black Waters
Eye of the Crocodile King
Shipyard Rats
Cassomir's Locker
Crypt of Fools
Rules of the Swift
 

SpyDarling

Registered User
That's an awesome idea too. I'm not taking a year to get these people invested, but Shipyard Rats might be a easy to interpret into a lead-in. Especially if I replace a missing Pathfinder with lost children.
 

Crothian

Villager
I feel the very beginning of Crimson Throne is the most important. When I played this, I used a LOT of filler between the start of the adventure and the murder of the king. This gave the players some time to identify with the city and its lovable but flawed character. While you might not want to put in as much filler as I did (close to a year's worth of it, actually)
How often did you play during that year and how high a level did the group reach? For book 2 they need not have been much higher then 4th but after a year of normal play most characters seem to be over ten and maybe well into their teens.
 

Starfox

Villager
How often did you play during that year and how high a level did the group reach? For book 2 they need not have been much higher then 4th but after a year of normal play most characters seem to be over ten and maybe well into their teens.
About a year, and no, it was not DnD, so it all needed converting anyway.
 

Tuft

Villager
How often did you play during that year and how high a level did the group reach? For book 2 they need not have been much higher then 4th but after a year of normal play most characters seem to be over ten and maybe well into their teens.
It was in the main Saturday campaign, so we played weekly, 2PM to 10PM, so the year mentioned means about 150 hours, but as [MENTION=2303]Starfox[/MENTION] mentions, we played in his homebrew, so level-speed comparisons do not apply.

However, when we played Savage Tide in 3.5E with the same group, we, the players, asked for halved XP rewards and got it, so that [MENTION=2303]Starfox[/MENTION] could cram more adventures into the campaign.

There are two ways looking at XP. Normally, it is seen as a reward. But it can also be seen as a death clock, ticking away the lifetime of a beloved character, as they are normally retired at a given level. Now, do you want to play as much as possible with a character you like, or as little as possible?

In the Skull & Shackles Pathfinder campaign we play in parallell with the main campaign right now, we don't count XP - we level when [MENTION=2303]Starfox[/MENTION] finds it appropriate, considering how far into the story we are.
 
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