Sword of Air is yet another masterpiece.

Bill Webb and company, you are masters!  Seriously, your adventures are in a league of their own.  Every new purchase is a love affair for me.  The latest in my modest collection ( so far! ), takes things to a whole new level.  Sword of Air is nothing short of a masterpiece.   

The purpose of this post is simply to thank Bill, Matt, Clark, Greg, and the entire team at Frog God, for being extraordinary!

Nobody else in the field provides quality of this calibur.

Thank you for Swords and Wizardry, and thank you for the Lost Lands.  Here's hoping you never stop doin' what yer doin'.

michaelsandar's picture

We've been playing Sword of Air for the last year and a half in a weekly campaign, and it is indeed a fantastic adventure. There's a ton of room for a Referee to make it his own and still retain the feeling of the deep history of the Lost Lands.  My players are firmly entrenched in the rivalry between Sorten and Kayden, to the point where they've even started taking sides!  There's an awful lot of info packed into that one book.

SirGreatNose's picture

michaelsandar, I would be very interested in hearing how you prepare.  Do you print out sections from the pdf?  Do you use a tablet?  Do you use the book at the table?  Bring notes?

If you run right from the book, you're even more of a guru than I thought you were!

I just like to hear how others do things.

michaelsandar's picture

Hey, SirGreatNose -

I'm lucky enough to have a group of 4-5 very eager players who love to play in sandboxes.  The most important thing I found for this adventure was to start small.  I had my own creation - a lighthouse / dungeon combination down the coast from Rappan Athuk as a starting base, with portal and bad guy ties to the Stoneheart  Valley / SoA region.  This let me ensure the players had some background in adventuring and were able to pick up a few much needed levels before embarking on the crux of this adventure.  Plus, Stoneheart Mountain Dungeon is great fun!  Even now, over a year in, they're really still at the start, having just retrieved the Shaghaspondium.

As for prepping, I use the book at the table. I have to, there's way too much information scattered about regarding various loactions to not have it there.  I do have copious notes, but most of those are regarding things that have already happened, places visited, major points that have changed.  I will say, the story of the Wizards War - the rivalry between Sorten and Kayden - is pretty convoluted.  I updated a few things to make it flow a little better.  [spoiler]In my version, Sorten and Kayden both fell in love with Fiona.  She ultimately married Kayden, but had an affair with Sorten.  While in Sorten's Tower for a tryst, she was killed by the demon guardian in the plane of Shadow when sucked through the portal in his basement, that she "accidentally" stumbled upon - she had taken Steve the Cat with her, who made that "accident" possible. [/spoiler]

There's a lot of background between those two, and when you get to it later on, there is a lot of background involving Aka Bakar and his family, his relationship to his god, his rise and fall, and the fate of the Sword.  Fortunately, the hexes in the Lost Lands are big (really big) at 50 miles per hex.  It takes a lot of time for the PC's to cross large swaths of land unless I give them a better way (so far, portals and a roc have been the best bet!).  Because of that, it's very hard for the PC's to get too far out of a specific region, and I can read the chapter ahead of time.  Stuff is kind of packed together in this book, so don't be afraid to read it again before each session - it's easy to miss key bits of info.

I've found the best way to get someone interested in an item is to have someone else want it first - once the PC's found out that Sir Keven - the evil cleric of Dagon who has been their nemesis from the beginning - wanted the Shaghaspondium (as did their erstwhile benefactor Kayden who also wanted Sorten dead!)... well, they were determined to find out what was so special about it.

The biggest thing in a sandbox of this magnitude is to remember that not every session will be focused on finding the MacGuffin.  I try to remind the players at the beginning of each session of all the hooks, lines, and sinkers I've given them over the various sessions.  They aren't obligated to go running off after one or another (unless they've made that obligation themselves).  If you prep enough options or are willing to wing it a little and can include stuff that isn't connected to the big picture, there can be dozens of options for adventure - and eventually, they'll see that the big stuff is related to the Sword.  The back half of the adventure - after retrieveing the Shaghaspondium is a little more linear, but still open to various ... uh... endings.  :)

SirGreatNose's picture

I WANNA PLAY YOUR GAME!

That sounds fantastic!  The love triangle is pure genius!

I appreciate the insight, man.  Thank you so much!

 

~ Please consider changing your game night location to Columbus, Ohio.  ^_^

P.S.  You can wear my pointy hat.

michaelsandar's picture

Ha!  Well thank you.  We're only 4.5 hours hours away - probably a bit of a drive for a 3-4 hour session on a Wednesday, though. :)

 

I have to say that Sword of Air has really captured my imagination. I'm going to take it in a different direction, though; going to start with Stoneheart Valley, having the party know an NPC that uses Corian's backstory, to a point, but instead, he was an older man who just died mysteriously. 

He has a small business and home in Bard's Gate that the party inherits as a whole (each getting a sixth of the property; their character hooks include some options and examples to tie them to him in various ways), and, as his final request, return the amulet he stole--PF edition, so went ahead with the idea of it being his arcane bond--to Feriblan, whom I've moved to Fairhill. 

However, the reason Corian died was because he was poisoned with a wasting sickness by no less than the dark elf assassin F'arin Du'n, at the behest of Kayden, via his servant Romar Sourwine. Corian (I've made him about a 9th level Sorcerer, iirc my notes) had been researching the Sword of Air and Aka Bakar; that news made it back to Kayden, who decided to do something about it when Corian refused to work for him. 

I've yet to re-re-read the Sword of Air to see if that breaks anything that's already written, but hopefully not.

I also wanted to put some other hooks, outside the Sword of Air's main plotline, in Corian's home and bookshop, like a book about Thyr and Muir, a book about Orcus, or something, and tie it as close as I can to the lore. 

My players asked for mysteries. They're going to get mysteries.

SirGreatNose's picture

Richard, that sounds flippin' awesome!  It seems to me that Barakus has a side quest tie to the old wizard, too.

One thing that's ALMOST a shame though, with Corian dead, and Vortigern already in Fairhill, there's no pursuit by the 'devil-eyed' Talon.  Always a couple of days ahead of his master and thugs, pushing the players forward.  ...Possibly into reckless behaviour!

I love that you can just have him 'pop up' somewhere.  Peering in a window, or pearched somewhere just out of casual sight, and then somebody spots him!

He just strikes me as such a cool, menacing creature.  =)

If the players do what I think they're going to do--namely, investigate the crap out of Corian--they're actually going to talk to Feriblan and, by extension, his older apprentice...so, they're actually going to try to get information out of Vortigern about an amulet that the man wants. 

At that point, Vortigern can send them anywhere with a hint, including the farmhouse trap that he has plenty of time to prepare for them. "Its sad to say, Feriblan is having one of his bad days, but I may be of help. You say you're looking for information on a man named Eralion? He was my predecessor in this wonderful place of learning..." *que obsequitious, ingratiating voice*

I'm also going to, I think, have Vortigern be a straight-up Orcus worshipper. He has instructions from Tavik to gain access to an amulet that disappeared, which is why he went to Feriblan to begin his "apprenticeship", since rumor had it that he was the one that had trained Eralion. As a reward, of course, Vortigern would be allowed to enter into a more trusted position, once he delivers the amulet and everything else Eralion possessed, to the leader of the Orcus cult in the Stoneheart Mountain Dungeon..who's name escapes me at the moment. That should get them to go towards the Dungeon without prompting at all from me. 

 

Now, I also need to think up what sort of hints I can give for Sword of Air directly that doesn't give anything away, yet are juicy enough to get them wondering and exploring, preferably lore and books--since Corian, in my version, is a book collector--that have a little blurb about what's in the book; I love those in the rest of Sword of Air, and want to keep that up. I fully expect them to investigate every hint I give (every single party member, when I polled them, requested mysteries, investigations, and puzzles, which is what prompted me to purchase Sword of Air to begin with), so I wanted there to be a hidden room in Corian's place that is only hinted at because he has a custom sculture of his building, with an additional window...that isn't visible on the outside (that's from Bard's Gate...my wallet hurts...where an artisan crafts miniatures of parts of the city, that people try to collect). Within the hidden room, warded and protected, is all the information that Corian had collected...which won't be much, but enough to wet their appetite, and get them to go around asking about Aka Bakkar, the Sword of Air, and everything else, which brings them to the attention of Romar Sourwine and brings them into the overarching plot. Kayden will then, depending on their level, test them with a few quests, and then ask them to steal something from the dastardely, evil wizard Sorten...

One thing that I wish was more detailed was a "what does the average person know about history" blurb, so I can extrapolate what legends people would know about Aka Bakkar and the history regarding the Sword of Air, and other places in the campaign, like the former Prison taken over by...gnolls?...I need to re-re-re-read it again!

 

EDIT: They also requested really intelligent villains, so they're going to get those.

Does anyone know f you order the $99 S&W hardcover, does it come with the pdf as well? The drop-down selection leads me to believe not, but Paizo lists it as both if you purchase through them.

michaelsandar's picture

IIRC, all hard copy orders from the Frogs come with a copy of the pdf.

Thanks. I believe I had read that somewhere, but couldn't find it for sure.

jmj_1975's picture

I can confirm, all the physical books come with the PDFs.