Shadizar: Dark Dens of Iniquity [spoiler]

René

Mongoose
I plan to use this adventure in a few weeks, although I will relocate it to Aghrapur, where the characters will waste the money they have earned by kidnapping a Brythunian noble girl for a Hyrkanian prince.

Yesterday I scanned through the book and found some inconsistencies / problems. I'd like to hear how you have solved them.

1. In the brothel the PCs were betrayed by a whore who is in league with Nehira and were ambushed by a gang who has also an alliance with Nehira. Then they flee blindly into the night.
In the tavern they enter by random in the craftsmen district there are two parties who have also dealings with Nehira: Kindrat and the Hyperboreans - and both parties are independent from each other.
Is this pure coincidence that there meet three parties (PCs, Kindrat, Hyperboreans) which are unrelated to each other, but individually connected to Nehira? Since Shadizar is a big city, I know that my players won't believe this and will look for a big conspiracy.

2. When the PCs escape the tunnels into the Guild Hall there are coincidentally (?) again two guys connected with Nehira (Jakiv and Mykhailo). Why should they talk to the PCs about the ceremony that is to begin at Bel's temple? On the other hand: why should the PCs interrogate them (they are fleeing the whole Shadizar city watch at the moment and surely have not the time to talk with some clerks)? I'm not very happy with the solution on p.23: a guy rushing in and begging for immediate help ("Ah, heroes, you come in handy: there is a girl to be sacrified. Coincidentally this girl is also connected with this Nehira, all people you meet are connected with.").

My players will wonder why everone they meet in Shadizar this night is connected with the big evil girl of the story and why they are all so free to tell them about their connections.
I know I don't have to tell my players the details of the plot (with the exception of the parts their PCs discover), but even as GM I'm somewhat at a loss because I do not see the necessity why point B follows out of point A in this adventure - it all looks so totally randomly.
Have I overseen some crucial point? How do you explain these coincidencies?
 

Arkobla Conn

Mongoose
When I ran the adventure, I didn't stress connections with Nehira at all. My group actually insisted on finding an inn before allowing any distractions, so found the Inn in the craftsmen district then went back to the original area because they had been given a token for a free drink.

The group then had an episode at the whore house and Nehira played a bit part. When they fled after a bloody battle on the steps (THERE ARE NO WINDOWS on the MAP, so we played it that way) the group fled into the maul and then worked their way back to their Inn. I reasoned that they could have been followed. I did not, however, play up any connections. The nightwatchmen blabbed about a cult he was in because of the connection between orgies and the fact that the group had two female characters who he hit on rather blatently.

The next morning, Nehira led her gang to the Inn where they were located, a battle ensued, one of the PC's were captured, and the rest fled. Finding their friend became more the plot advancement device than anything else. He was found in the last scene which was very bloody/shocking...

Most, if not all, of this can be found in past posts submitted by me as session reviews. Do a search on my name.
 

Hadrathas

Mongoose
As I was writing up our adventure - still a work in progress...I read the books afterwards...and we mucked this one up royally.

As Arkobla said, we found an Inn first to store our gear and horses - not going to bring our worldly possessions to a Brothel - so you can play this as we did...same Inn the Hyperboreans and Kindrat meet later - not a stretch that they would not be present when the player characters first arrive, but are meeting when they return from the Brothel - if your characters escape the trap. We had a lucky break so we were not completely caught with our pants down so to speak...Also we missed completely the connection between the Hyperboreans and Kindrat and this never played out in our story arc...

In the Tunnels, Kindrat we met who gave us detailed directions and therefore never arrived in the guild hall or met any of the aforementioned people...It took us days and days to figure out where to go as we missed all the clues...one of our party was captured and another sold willingly into slavery to try and infiltrate the Nahira's palace. The only clue we got was a quick one line statement from a prostitute that Nahira was looking for a husband...we then conected her with the attack on our group outside the Inn, but with nothing else that had occurred previous...You can go this route and ignore the Guild Hall completely..

Part III - Most people we met we had no clue had anything to do with Nahira...the clues we missed were vague. Whether this was our groups usual over complication of matters or something else, I am not sure. It was a very fun adventure, especially the way we played it! As always with Modules, if you do not like something, change it!
 

René

Mongoose
Thanks for your advice! I think I'll go along this line and take some parts out of the module and remodel them into an own adventure.

But still... from a not so cheap box published by a professional company I expected a necessity-driven plot, not a compilation of coincidence-connected scenes.
But I better stop here before I'm getting accused of negativity...
 

Arcadayn

Mongoose
Fair criticism is not negativity. I also feel that the adventure should have been much better. I had to draw my own maps for several major areas and extrapolate locations on the main city map. As far as the plot goes, it has more holes than swiss cheese. Bascially, I took the general concept and redid the entire thing myself. If I had my copy in front of me I could be more specific.
 

urdinaran

Mongoose
Gonna run Shadizar this coming Sunday; anyone else have any advice on running the adventure? I've read it a few times, made some notes; the only places where I don't feel comfortable with is the Tunnels and the Guildhall, just doesn't feel right.

Noticed that it's for any level party, but, Harasym (10th) would seem a challenge for a low level group, especially if he has 6th and 1st level followers with him.
Also, no XP rewards given or suggested. May have to give 'em a Fate Point if they can kill Kara Prama.
 
Am I the only one who thinks it's not a well made product? I didn't even bother scavenging it for useful material- I couldn't find any.....
 

urdinaran

Mongoose
Well, it's not that I think it's a great adventure, but with some work can be passable.
I guess I could see it being a Conan story, the way it flows and one thing leads to another. Reminds me a little of Rogues in the House. It's believable from the perspective of 1 barbarian, but not from that of 4 very different individuals who are expected to follow the plot hooks and react as written.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Raven Blackwell said:
Am I the only one who thinks it's not a well made product? I didn't even bother scavenging it for useful material- I couldn't find any.....
You still can use the plot of a slave trade/organization that your players have to destroy.
The adventure could begin anywhere with disappearances in , say Tarantia (or Messantia) and end up in Shadizar.

In fact there is a quite similar story from Fritz Leiber, where the local thief guild kill the sweet-hearts of Fafhr and the Grey Mouser who take revenge in killing most of its leaders.
You could involve your players in this way.
 

Padre

Mongoose
Raven Blackwell said:
Am I the only one who thinks it's not a well made product? I didn't even bother scavenging it for useful material- I couldn't find any.....

I was dissapointed with the Shadizar adventure too. It ends before anything interesting happens - for my players it would be just a series of loosely connected encounters. The adventure in Messantia is much better.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Padre said:
I was dissapointed with the Shadizar adventure too. It ends before anything interesting happens.
This is why you have 128 remaining pages to help you developp your adventure further.
 

urdinaran

Mongoose
OK, finally finished running Shadizar for my players. Took 2 gaming sessions and they weren't very impressed with the story. Too many coincidences for them, and I had to change a few things just to make it work at all.

1. I had a balcony at the brothel so the PCs could make a run for it. Didn't make sense that there was only 1 way out of the place and Harasym (10th level npc) stood in the way.

2. While on the run, had an acquaintance of one of the PCs tell them where to go in the craftsman's district. Once they got their, they Hyperborians pretty much begged them to help get the book. The next morning, they get attacked, and I was surprised how many of the gang members the Hyperborians killed (greatswords, sheeeesh).

3. The rest at their inn, go the next day to Lady Nehira's estate to follow up on the suitor hook. Senechal helps them escape, had to shorten the whole underground episode. Senechal tells them to ask help from Mykhailo, as why anyone in the guildhall would help them, especially since they just happen to appear out of the storeroom. Mykhailo leads them to Temple of Bel at nightfall.

4. They get in, kill Nabud, open doors and see ceremony. Ritual fails, Nehira orders cultists to attack. I drew out Kara Prama's apprearance to build up suspense. Once she did, the Terror check made almost everyone flee, except for a few cultists and 1 PC (Thief). The Thief tried to get in and get the book, but Kara Prama got to it before he could.

5. In the end, High Priest of Bel and a large contingent of the King's Own kill Kara Prama; the Thief tries to retrieve the Book in the ensueing confusion, but fails. Didn't bother with the whole Harasym endgame thing, no point in it.


All in all, not a very good adventure. Way too many coincidences and assumptions made. Also, I think it takes too much work for the GM to make something out of this adventure. I could see COnan running around in this adventure, but everyone else isn't Conan and they don't think the same as him. Too many opportunities for the adventure to go askew.
 

Padre

Mongoose
The King said:
Padre said:
I was dissapointed with the Shadizar adventure too. It ends before anything interesting happens.
This is why you have 128 remaining pages to help you developp your adventure further.

You mean to start the actual adventure? :)

I'm just not the type of GM that buys a scenario or a sourcebook to change/expand everything. I payed for it, so the hard work should be already done by the author. I don't buy cars without engines or wheels and I wouldn't buy a van just to convert it to a coupe :D
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
I didn't mean this. But the material presented in the other Shadizar books should give you enough matter to developp the scenario or else it would have sufficed to release the adventure as a 32-pages booklet (like the Tower of the elephant).
Therefore I meant to use the Shadizar boxed set as a campaign sourcebook more than just a one-shot.

It's like if you had the car, the wheels and the engines and several other features which you can use or not. So you don't need to make use of the cigar lighter if you don't smoke, but you still can use the Hi-Fi. :wink:
 

urdinaran

Mongoose
The other books are good; I just feel that instead of a boxed set, it all could have been put into a hardback and saved me $15. That the adventure included, with all those counters and sub-standard maps, isn't good by any stretch of the imagination just reinforces my belief. That is one of the reasons that I waited to get Messantia for about $35 on eBay (including shipping).
 

Evil_Trevor

Mongoose
I didn't run the adventure for my group, I have three female players (out of a group of seven) playing female characters who wouldn't set foot in a brothel. The chances are most of the NPCs would die before imparting their information with two cimmerians at the front neither of whom speak Zamorian.

The only thing worse than having Nehira succeed would be for the book to fall into the hands of my Khitan scholler who is rapidly heading toward corruption. That is assuming she didn't join Nehira........
 

René

Mongoose
urdinaran said:
The other books are good; I just feel that instead of a boxed set, it all could have been put into a hardback and saved me $15. That the adventure included, with all those counters and sub-standard maps, isn't good by any stretch of the imagination just reinforces my belief. That is one of the reasons that I waited to get Messantia for about $35 on eBay (including shipping).

The same here.
 
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