Crown of Kings - feeling a need to rewrite the Kharé quest..

aduial
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Crown of Kings - feeling a need to rewrite the Kharé quest..

Post by aduial » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:21 pm

Warning: Spoilers below! Players, stay away!

So, I picked up Crown of Kings the other day, and I've skimmed through the first two parts. I like it this far, but I'm having a lot of trouble with the second part.

Part 1: The shamutanti hills
I really like this part. The adaption from gamebook to rpg is very well done.

Part 2: Kharé
I'm having doubts about this section. First of all, making fantasy characters go through the city at all can be hard. It is noted that crossing the city is the easiest way of crossing the river, and maybe they'll go for that - until they hear that the gates are barred. At this point, I think most players I know will bypass the entire city unless I can answer the following questions:

- Why can't they fly across the river outside the city (if they have a fly spell)?
- Why can't they fly across the city wall (if they have a fly spell)?
These two questions might be answered by Jann, but that would be extremely annoying. It also leaves the question of how the gate spell works when the PCs magic otherwise don't. And Jann is all too easy to get rid of for this to be reliable. The easiest solution is actually to avoid the PCs having access to any flying magic.

- Why can't they climb the city wall?
- Why doesn't anyone know who the nobles are? How hard can they be to find?
These questions trouble me even more. No matter how high and well-guarded the walls, if finding the nobles to open the gates is difficult, this will be tried. And possibly quite ingeniously. Simply saying that it doesn't work will be less than satisfying. The only solution I can see is to make it easy to find the four nobles...

But one of them is dead (and has been for some time), and another has been a beggar for three years... so who the hell opened the gate just a few days ago? The logical inconsistencies here are only made worse by the lack of a GM's overview (who actually knows the lines and so on) in this section.

- Why is the gate opened only twice a year?
I can't find any explanation for this. Any takers?

- Why didn't the players know about the bi-annual ritual of the opening of the gates before coming to the town?
I mean... if it's that big a deal, it should be well known, right? This might actually work though. If they DO know about it from the beginning. Racing through the shamutanti hills will feel more desperate if they know they need to get to Kharé before a certain date. That means the whole scene with "they have to be arrested" can be skipped as well.

All in all, I will have to rewrite the Kharé section in some manner before running this. Probably, they'll know they need a spell there (to make them go there at all), and that the spell was known by some old noble families. Why they need the spell? Certainly not to get out of the city, that's much too easy. Possibly rewrite it as a spell to cloak themselves from some sort of extremely powerful scrying spell known to be in the posession of the Archmage?

Any ideas? Answers I've missed that make the rewrite less necessary?

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Post by Robb 1 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:04 am

Just a thought for Khare the silver snake ring used for forcing info from the 7 serpents in the original game book could be tweaked as an important quest item. If pcs become aware of the serpents earlier by a friendly source highlighting the urgency of capturing/destroying them to keep their quest secret use rumors of there being1 of 4 lords of Khare owning it and you might be able to get PCs. Chasing all over the city looking for It and winding up with the gAte spell And a very powerful Artifact to help wittheir quest. Hope this helps

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Post by Slloyd14 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:37 am

@aduial - now that you analyse it that closely, it does not make a lot of sense.

I guess the best quest would be something that means that the players:

a) Have to go into the city.
b) Have to explore loads of random houses in the city.

As mentioned by Robb1 above, finding the Snake ring would fit both of those criteria.

Other ideas:

A servant of the archmage has stolen an Analand spellbook and the heroes need to stop him before he gets back to Mampang. he is hiding out in Khare.

An informant in Khare can give the players important information about Mampang (can be played as genuine or a trap).

The king of Analand's spies have reported that for the first time in history, the chaotic denizens of Khare are actually forming some kind of militia or organised force. The heroes need to investigate it (they could kill the leader but discover, that ultimately, it is the power of the Crown of hte Kings that is doing this).

Any or all of the above mixed together?
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aduial
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Post by aduial » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:05 am

Robb 1 wrote:Just a thought for Khare the silver snake ring used for forcing info from the 7 serpents in the original game book could be tweaked as an important quest item. If pcs become aware of the serpents earlier by a friendly source highlighting the urgency of capturing/destroying them to keep their quest secret use rumors of there being1 of 4 lords of Khare owning it and you might be able to get PCs. Chasing all over the city looking for It and winding up with the gAte spell And a very powerful Artifact to help wittheir quest. Hope this helps
That's brilliant, and keeps with the original theme a bit.

I know I'm probably asking a bit much here, but is there given any reason why the ring has power over the serpents? And how it ended up with the Khare nobility?

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Post by aduial » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:11 am

Slloyd14 wrote: A servant of the archmage has stolen an Analand spellbook and the heroes need to stop him before he gets back to Mampang. he is hiding out in Khare.
That could work, but needs a tie-in to the main plot. (Especially with regards to "why the PCs and not some other Analand agents?)
An informant in Khare can give the players important information about Mampang (can be played as genuine or a trap).
Very good! Might combine this with the ring-serpent-thing. Indeed, maybe all they know is "check in with our agent so-and-so in Khare, he may know things about Mampang" - and what he really knows is that hte serpents are on their way through the Baklands and that legend holds that there is a ring somewhere in Khare that has control over them. Would probably replace the hermit of the Seven Serpents with this guy. Makes for an interresting choice for the players as well - Do they waste time looking for the ring, or do they take their chances and chase after the serpents without it?
The king of Analand's spies have reported that for the first time in history, the chaotic denizens of Khare are actually forming some kind of militia or organised force. The heroes need to investigate it (they could kill the leader but discover, that ultimately, it is the power of the Crown of hte Kings that is doing this).
Doesn't quite sound like something the PCs should do considering the pressure of time on their shoulders. I like the above idea better. But there's something good here too, I think I'll spread rumours and evidence like this across the entire questline, "evil uniting" and so on, to increase the time pressure even more...

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Post by Robb 1 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:55 pm

More thoughts on the snake ring, no clue was given as to why the ring has the power over the serpents. But How about the creator being the arch Mage himself and designed as a further safe guard against the powerful and dark magic used to create the serpents to prevent it backfiring against him? And used By him to force the serpents to do his bidding, when all said and done the serpents are pretty nasty pieces of work that would turn against him given the opprtunity.

As for the nobility aquiring the ring maybe one of them was an apprentice or high placed servant/henchman who stole it or acquired it by other means whilst the arch Mage was busy planning the stealing of the crown of kings, and conveniently forgot about the servant and the ring not very original but it might be one explanation :wink:

Another idea for a friendly contact in Khare could be Vik or even flanker the assassin both have further potential for further development as important NPCs and potential alies during the adventure.

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Post by SurrenderMonkey » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:03 pm

My intention is to use Crown of Kings as a regional sourcebook. While I understand why the revision author was reluctant to mess with them, there are a few too many gamebook design artifacts in the main quest as written for it to be very satisfying as the basis for a conventional role playing game.

Khare is simply going to be the major city in my campaign and I don't foresee a need to railroad my players through it. I like the basic idea of the gate spell and intend to keep it as flavor. In my game the lines of the gate spell are going to be four different cantrips. Furthermore, these will be a special class of cantrips of which any given magician will only be able to know one at a time (learning a new one erases a previous one from memory). This will preserve the basic idea of the gate spell as described in the original quest, while better conforming to the logic of the game as it has since been developed.

So learning the gate spell sequence might be a fun side quest for the players (upon completion of which I might offer an XP award), and knowing it might even become handy for them at some point, but it's not going to be a major reason for anyone to explore the city.

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Post by torus » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:32 pm

SurrenderMonkey wrote:My intention is to use Crown of Kings as a regional sourcebook. While I understand why the revision author was reluctant to mess with them, there are a few too many gamebook design artifacts in the main quest as written for it to be very satisfying as the basis for a conventional role playing game.
I think this is the main problem with converting the gamebooks directly: many elements within them are puzzles or problems that make little sense outside the constraints of a gamebook. Some of them don't even make much sense within those constraints!

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Post by bottg » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:56 pm

It is certainly a thorny issue!

If you change enough things for it all to make sense, there will be lots of complaints that you have lost the feel of the game.....

Having said that, it is easy enough to change things, use the campaign as a rough guide or base only etc. As long as you have fun!

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Post by MountainPeak11 » Tue Dec 25, 2012 4:11 pm

Again, my opinions on the FLY spell seem relevant here - what's to stop people from completely by-passing Khare altogether by flying over/around the city? I do plan to play this at some point with people, but I'd definitely keep the FLY spell out of all my campaigns.

The silver ring sounds intriguing, but unfortunately I no longer have the original Sorcery! copies... it would be really great if you could compile these edits together and send them to me. I'd be most grateful!!!

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Post by sylas » Tue Dec 25, 2012 4:54 pm

usually banning a certain spell or power from a campaign means that it should not have been in the rules in the first place to give that option. instead i think it is better if situations or events were created to prevent the spell/power from being used at the time. in regards to the FLY spell, i doubt you'd ever get a party where every player knows the FLY spell. and for those in the party that do, it's always unwise to split the party, right?
but in other situations, you could have:

> Reports of a sandstorm coming in and you might not be able to control the spell.

> Flying characters could be stopped by Sulphur Ghost(s) that guard the Gate(s?)

> You may be able to Fly, but can you also turn invisible? Your mission is suppose to be secret, right? Flying about might be totally obvious to enemy spies who are likely to work out who you are and what your purpose is. (Unless people who live in Kharé commonly fly around for fun.)

i'm sure there's other reasons you could have. i just thought of these on the fly.

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Re: Crown of Kings - feeling a need to rewrite the Kharé quest..

Post by SkinnyOrc » Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:40 am

My opinion is Graham did the right thing by keeping the AFF2 adventure true to the Sorcery gamebooks, it was important to do that. On the other hand gamers expect more freedom in a RPG than they do a gamebook, and the way the players are railroaded into exploring Khare isn't going to go down well with most groups. It's just not believable there's no other way across the river.

Also I can see players looking at the regional map and not even going to Khare. They might want to get a ship along the coast and then travel up the Kharabak River. That looks like a perfectly reasonable way to get to Mampang! Who knows what others they might come up with.

So I think what's needed is something in Khare that the PCs need that they're told about in the intro. That not only gives them a reason to explore Khare but also to follow something more like the expected route to Mampang.

What I suggest is the PCs are told that magical scrying determined the Archmage's personal chambers are protected by powerful wards to prevent entry. Through a combination of research and informants it's believed the spells used on the gates of Khare are similar and so the Gate Spell used there to open them would also work in Mampang.

The beauty of this is you change as little of the adventure as absolutely necessary. The task in Khare remains unchanged, to find the four people knowing a part of the spell. The reason the spell exists in Khare also doesn't change, it's to open the North Gate. It's just it also works on the Archmage's warded door. I'd make this the double-doors between rooms 48 and 49 in Mampang Fortress, the fourth set of Throben doors as the adventure calls them. Anywhere before this and the inhabitants of the fortress would be passing through it.

I'd also skip the PCs being captured at the gates of Khare. The guards can just extort the money from them at the gate to let them in. The reason to capture them is so an old man can explain all about the locked gate and the spell. There's no need for that now they're told it at the start and it's the reason they've come to Khare. Once within the city they can make their own enquiries about the Gate Spell and who knows it.

If the warded door is the one in 48 then small adjustments are needed to 47. The guard captain's key is to the non-magical door between 46 and 48, and he doesn't know the spell to open the Throben doors at 48. If he offers to take the PCs to the Archmage this is a trick. He brings them through to 48, makes his excuse and leaves. He locks the door behind him and the moment the PCs hear it click the Sleepless Ram animates. If they enter the room without him the Ram animates as soon as they head towards the Throben doors. Worth noting that Beyond the Pit gives a more detailed version of the Sleepless Ram.

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Re: Crown of Kings - feeling a need to rewrite the Kharé quest..

Post by drbargle » Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:17 pm

Re: Khare - in my game I made the first part of the mission a journey to Khare, to visit Abraxus, a Sightmaster Astrologer (a literal Seer) and agent of the Analand who is tasked with keeping watch on the Baklands. So they had to go to the centre of Khare to receive the latest intelligence on the doings of the Archmage and the Serpents. As for simply crossing the river by other means - yeah, that's a tough one. I made it "that Abraxus lived just the other side of the bridge over the stinking, roiling mass of Chaos that is the Jibaji River (an answer to ‘why do we have to go through Khare to cross the river’)" as I wrote on my blog. This particular corner of the Old World is obviously more than simply 'touched' by Chaos - civilised, quasi-medieval kingdoms on all sides, and here we have a desert with the ruins of a lost civilisation, a crumbling city in which evil gods are worshipped, etc. It flows out of the mountains bordering Mauristatia, after all.

My three posts / reflections on play are here:

https://drbargle.blogspot.com/2013/09/into-khare.html
https://drbargle.blogspot.com/2013/09/a ... alice.html
https://drbargle.blogspot.com/2013/09/t ... khare.html

Note: I also made Khare into a semi-sentient entity, embodied in the walls, which chooses the Hidden Lords.

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Re:

Post by drbargle » Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:39 pm

SurrenderMonkey wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:03 pm
Khare is simply going to be the major city in my campaign
You should consider playering the Inkle games based on the Sorcery! books - obviously with a focus on the 2nd one. While I bought into the post-collapse, part-ruined vibe I got from the AFF CoK book (with ruined and barren areas *within* the walls of a once great city), the Inkle game presents Khare as a much more lively place with lots going on. Even if you never complete the game, it should give you more than a few ideas for interlinking urban encounters. Plus, it has a really really neat 'social' mechanic that it uses when you're trying to get information from someone.

https://www.inklestudios.com/sorcery/

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Re: Crown of Kings - feeling a need to rewrite the Kharé quest..

Post by drbargle » Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:41 pm

drbargle wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:17 pm
I made it "that Abraxus lived just the other side of the bridge over the stinking, roiling mass of Chaos that is the Jibaji River (an answer to ‘why do we have to go through Khare to cross the river’)" as I wrote on my blog.
Sorry, forgot to say; I had it that the Jibaji River was corrupted by Chaos AND that this makes magic unreliable when you are in it, on its shore, or over it... and you wouldn't want to fail a Test of Luck and fall into it!

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