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The Final Act of The Necropolis of Pergia

Charles M RyanThere are many ways to write RPG adventures, and is, by its nature, a reflection of one particular approach. We designers call it the site-based adventure; some people refer to it as "old school" adventuring, though that's a bit of a misnomer--not every early adventure was a simple dungeon crawl, and there are certainly plenty of adventures with modern sensibilities that are site-based.

Either way, the adventures on are traditionally site-based, but the final act of The Necropolis of Pergia isn't. This leads us to another distinction (bear with me): The "sandbox" versus the "railroad." Many gamers see a distinction between a sandbox philosophy (in which the world is laid out for the heroes to explore, with no assumptions about the direction they'll go) and an outline-based game (in which a story is unfolding and the PCs' actions tie in to that story). The latter is often disparaged as a "railroad" because it necessarily makes assumptions about the players' course of action. Without such assumptions it's very hard to manage all the possible outcomes of the players' decisions.

Personally, I don't really see the distinction. If you're designing a dungeon and you make a corridor that goes left or right, you're making the assumption the players will choose either left or right--and you're enforcing that assumption with walls of stone. Sounds to me like either approach can "railroad" the players. But I digress.

So this brings us back to the final five encounters of the Necropolis of Pergia. While each is associated with a location (or locations), they really describe events. Unlike most encounters, whether, when, how, and sometimes where these events occur depends on the course of action the players choose.

In writing this closing chapter, I've made some assumptions about the players' choices. The big one is that I've assumed they'll even bother with these last actions--after all, once they've recovered Garlenthatir's treasure, they've got what they came for. But then again, if they discovered a mysterious staircase going down into darkness, I'd assume they'd take that too, even with the minotaur king's riches in hand. They are, after all, adventurers.

Beyond that, I've assumed a desire to foil the Blind Cabal, and an interest in getting involved in the plight of Carisford and Dell Farthing. And then I've made assumptions about how they'll act on that involvement--that, for example, from Carisford they'll either go to Dell Farthing or try to track down Kruushk. And I've "enforced" these assumptions, albeit with walls much softer than stone, by placing Carisford in a valley. But in so doing I've tried to cover all the obvious bases and I've tried to leave each encounter as flexible as possible, so that GMs can react easily to choices I didn't predict.

The five encounters are numbered 41-45, but don't expect you'll have to play them in that order (just like you wouldn't if they referred to rooms on a map) or that the players will necessarily explore every encounter (ditto). Either way, hopefully all the information you need to run these encounters, no matter what course the PCs take, is there for you. Their actions have consequences, and the effect of those consequences on other encounters is discussed. In the dungeon, the PCs might not go right or left--they might start digging a tunnel straight ahead through the rock. You have the rules, you have the map, you have good GMing judgment, so you can adjudicate that outcome. The same thing applies in Carisford Vale.

These encounters don't exactly fit the standard mold, but as long as you're comfortable with that small fact (and as long as I've done my job properly), I hope you'll find them just as enjoyable as any musty underground chamber--and a fitting, exciting conclusion to the players' descent into the Necropolis.

Copyright 2006-2010 Monte J. Cook; Copyright 2010-2011 Super Genius Games