Sunday, July 31, 2011

Deliriums's Tangle #45

compass, Pathfinder

The Delirium's Tangle scenario #45 for Pathfinder Society offers the player characters a well balanced array of challenges wrapped up in a classic dungeon setting, but with a rich enough atmosphere and background story to stand apart from the simple dungeon crawls. The combat challenges are varied and not too deadly. Furthermore, skill and ability use play a significant and well thought out part in the module.

Though the scenario features a solid backstory tied into current and past affairs of Absalom, the opportunity to share it with the player characters through roleplay or otherwise are not established in the core module, but is left up to the Game Master to explore. Bridging this gap could take this scenario from good to great.

Spoiler warning! The following is intended for GM's running Delirium's Tangle.

GM Expansions

The time intervals outlined in the module are very long and do not convey much urgency in the mission. Grand Master Torch says that Nuar Spiritskin has been away several days, and that Torch's mother arrives next week. Somewhere in between the Pathfinders should retrieve the minotaur prince. I suggest adding a heightened sense of urgency to the rescue mission, saying that "Spiritskin has an impending diplomatic mission, which if missed could cause significant problems as foreign dignitaries would be insulted," and that "Spiritskin is scheduled to meet them tonight." To further incentive the characters 10% of the total possible gold for the scenario could be set aside and offered in reward for the return of Spiritskin before nightfall.

Act 1

The module states that getting to Area 1a takes 2d6 hours minus a successful survival check, this could mean that the characters have begun force march even before the first encounter, and may soon have to rest. I would suggest limiting the entry time to 2d4 hours minus 1 for every 5 points the Pathfinders beat a DC10 survival check.

Act 2

Act 2 takes an incredible amount of game time (and potentially real time). It requires 10 successful skill checks to pass Act 2, and each check represents and hours worth of work. With a few failures that can quickly add up to days of searching the maze. I would recommend letting each skill check represent 15 minutes, and reduce the number of necessary checks to 5. 10 checks is simply too much of a monotonous drag.

The maze is too much of a drain on the mind for the same to character to lead for two consecutive checks, so each player with the appropriate skills is encouraged to take a turn leading the party. If the Pathfinders do break the 8 hour mark and begin to force march and contemplate resting, consider anyone sleeping in Delirium's Tangle as having opened their mind to the maze and suffer the consequences.

When a character opens his mind to the maze to find his way through, describe to him that a pattern begins to emerge in his mind along with a distant murmur of promises of greater understanding, as something probes its way into his mind. He sees the way ahead and shuts the open door in his mind leaving a hammering headache. If the same character opens his mind again, tell him that a whisper promises, that if he leaves his mind open, he can replace Abysiel as the master of the maze with knowledge to wield its power.

To lift the veil a little bit on the story and add to the madness of the maze, I added a roleplay encounter in the maze. After succeeding on a couple of checks the Pathfinders come upon a small room with a man kneeling facing a corner, he is mumbling and scratching the wall. When he hears the Pathfinders he thinks they are Morlocks and calls out: "Praise Abysiel, god of Delirium's Tangle, take my ears, please cut cut them off and sacrifice them in his glory!"

On closer inspection the Pathfinders see that this man is dressed in a blood stained performer's clothing, is grasping a broken flute with several missing fingers, and has had his eyes gorged out. A DC15 knowledge local check identify him as Armand, a street performer from the Ivy District. Armand was captured by the morlocks, who sacrificed parts of him to Abysiel. Armand has gone mad, but when he realizes that the Pathfinders are not morlocks, he tries to warn them jumping like a puppet on strings he yells: "Abysiel is a puppet and the whisperer in the void is the puppeteer of the Tangle." It is impossible to get him answer questions coherently, but he will continue, "Don't let the whisper fester in your mind, or it will use you to bridge the gap. Death is the more pleasant choice!"

If Armand is pressed hard he will attack blindly with his broken flute (+0 (1d3-1) 50% concealment). If the Pathfinders cause him any harm, he will immediately die, as he was already severely hurt and only conscious because his madness kept him in a constant state of ferocity. If they successfully heal him and bring him back to Absalom, you could reward any performers with a +2 on their check to earn money. The purpose of this encounter is both its madness and the clue to the origin of Delirium's Tangle.

Act 3

When the Pathfinders are sucked into the void and attacked by the Void Whisperer, tell them that they hear a terrifying, but incomprehensible whisper from all around and ask them to make a will save against Bane. The Pathfinder with the lowest save would be a good target for the Void Whisperer to appear next to and attack.

Act 4

The Clever Door is an good and potentially deadly encounter, I would only suggest to let the characters open their minds to the madness of the maze for a bonus if they wish. Inside Abysiel's Prison the Pathfinders will also find Armand's fingers and eyes sacrificed at Abysiel's feet.

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