Day 6 calls for the answer to the most recent game I have played and that is an easy one to answer – Pathfinder, the Skull and Shackles adventure path less than 12 hours ago actually. It also handily gives me an opening to revel in the after glow of a great game and reflect back on the changes that made it so awesome.
Day 6: RPG Most Recently Played
Well, it was Pathfinder. I know that it may be out of fashion with the hipsters but Pathfinder is a mainstay of my in person gaming table and the Skull and Shackles adventure path is the way that we roll. Last night was a beautiful example of the game being played also. The changes that I have made to the way that we all play the game have thoroughly increased the enjoyment of all of the players at my table, except my daughter who quit a few weeks ago, but I think that is for the best. She has found a set of gamers closer to her own age and so can join them to keep her gaming going.
*****SPOILERS***** IF YOU PLAY SKULL & SHACKLES, KEEP OUT FROM THIS POINT ON*****
Last night the players were spending time trying to uncover the presence of a Cheliax (Country that worships devils) spy ring in the Shackles (series of islands loosely run by a council of Pirate Lords and the Hurricane King). This had come after some relatively unsuccessful pirating days out to see from the previous week. They started with a clue about a guy with the name of Haddon Pike. They honed their approach (it was going to be a snatch and grab operation but found out that he had been murdered…
Investigating the scene they found a few clues, none the least being a bag hidden in a fish tank that contained a watertight scroll case holding music sheets of an opera. It pays to note here that I spent a lot of the night improvising due to the fact that the adventure path assumes a set progression and my players are often way left of field of this. They come up with innovative and clever optional paths that are just not considered in the paths (for space I imagine) like when the bard picked up the sheets and played the pieces to see if he could recognise the music as no one could read the language. Then the follower of one of the players used talk with dead to discuss things with the unfortunate victims.
They spent their time in Drenchport (a city of the Shackles near the Eye of Abendengo – a massive hurricane that sits stationary to the North of the Shackles) over the next couple of days questioning locals and investigating the opera. They were rewarded when one player – a Tengu Summoner, sat down with the translated opera and cracked a cipher that was present. The dead “possible” spy was meeting with a woman by the name of Roweena Kellet in Hell’s Harbour – a city on an island about half a days sail away. This came just in time to save them having to follow up a second lead many days travel away so the party island hopped to Hell’s Harbour.
Hell Harbour was named because it was highly defensible but since the latest Pirate Lord Endymion took control imps have been appearing all over the city giving it a hellish air. Lord Endymion was once a Chelish (from Cheliax) Admiral but fled as he was framed by one of the ruling caste their. The city is much different to many of the settlements in the Shackles because it is well ordered and has a system that keeps order in the city itself. The arrival of the Blackheart (the parties ship) saw the wharf officials in a spin when they investigated the cargo hold and found a cage filled to the brim with skeletons and zombies courtesy of the Drow Elf Necromancer on board. With the wharf officials bribery pouches filled with gold they went to find Roweena.
It did not take them long to find out she was actually the docks quartermaster and had been missing for a short while. They obtained her address and arrived to find the place ransacked. Through thorough searching and also a very memorable conversation with an imp that killed the Necromancer’s familiar the party found some damning evidence that suggested that someone was seeking information on how much it would cost to buy the loyalty of the the Pirate Lords sitting on the council. This really shook up a few of the players as they realised the path they were on may just be a little bigger than they originally thought. Especially because the Pirate Lord Endymion seemed to be (after a divination) all in at no cost. But they still realised that they had no proof apart from circumstantial. On the bottom of the bribery ledger they found a name and heard from the imp that it was a Tengu smuggler that lived in Hell Harbour.
They cased the apartment and approached the front door. Surprisingly the Tengu was there but before the opening pleasantries were over a crossbow bolt struck him in the chest, and then another. He fell back dead and the party saw an assassin perched on a rooftop a 100 feet away. A short bout of hilarious parkour and brilliant use of a summoners Eidolon share-senses ability and dimension door saw the assassin who had a very set path in the book come apart and get captured…
**********Spoilers are over*************
The game ended as they readied to question the assassin, a brilliant game from my point of view. I have above hit just the highlights that branch the plot but there was some fantastic roleplaying last night. As you can see there was only one encounter that involved combat but it was a brilliant night of gaming. Everyone was involved. There was group plotting and full role playing that arose. Many laughs and some great gaming all around. This has still all stemmed just from the few tweaks I made. Experience (XP) is gained only from the role playing aspects and the hero (villainy) point system has really opened up the player possibilities.
I am thoroughly in love with this game and I really believe this adventure path is one of the best that I have ever read. It works on a brilliant progression that rewards the players in a perfect way. It allows them so much freedom to do it in any way that they see fit and really takes them to heights that I never thought I would see in an official product… So there you have my rather lengthy answer to Day 6! I hope you enjoyed it half as much as I enjoyed the game.