Ironfang Invasion in the Realms: setting stuff do deal with
As alluded to in my lost blog post, I want to run an Ironfang Invasion game in the Realms and I want to make sure that it fits as seamlessly as possible in the Realms Canon already existing. Realms Canon, as I define it, means the setting status as of 1372DR, the year of the 3E Forgotten Realms Campaign setting. That means that this book is what everybody playing in my game can take for granted, while every bit of lore that came before it might be changed so that it better fits my vision of the Realms (though those changes might be pretty minor, because I love most of the stuff written for the Realms during the AD&D era). It also means that the official history of the Realms after that date didn‘t happen yet and probably never will. In fact, my campaign will start a little bit sooner, at the end of 1370 DR, for reasons I‘ll explain a little bit later.
I decided to run the AP in the Great Dale, a region in the Unapproachable East, that is only sparsely populated and also has the advantage not to have been detailed too much by official designers, which makes the adaptation a lot easier. Still, there are some thing I have to consider when I want to put Ironfang Invasion in this region.
First of all, we know that there are two power factions in the Dale, namely the Talontar Blightlords under leadership of the Rotting Man and the Circle of Leth, an organization of druids and rangers led by the Nentyarch. Those factions are deadly enemies and we know from the Unapproachable East sourcebook that the blightlords drive the druids out of the Rawlinswood in Midwinter 1371 DR. That’s the main reason why I let the AP start a bit sooner. First of all, I don’t want the Circle of Leth being reestablished in the Forest of Lethyr, because that’s where the game will play out for quite some time and that could potentially mess a lot with the AP’s plot. More importantly, second, this gives me a very good reason for the fact that the Circle of Lethe doesn’t immediately deal with the hobgoblin invasion (they are preparing for the inevitable clash with the Blightlords and get caught off-guard by the new development), but it also can let me use the developments to come to add to the AP’s plot. Because in “Prisoners of the Blight”, the fifth adventure of the AP, the PCs will have to invade the Rawlinswood (Fangwood in the AP) and deal with the Rotting Man (Arlantia, might also make her into a powerful ally of Talona’s Chosen) in order to free the Nentyarch (the fey queen Gendowyn) and help him escape to the Forest of Lethyr.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure yet if I’ll use the Nentyarch and the Rotting Man in those roles, because those are two pretty powerful bastards (lvl 28 and 22 respectively) but I would love too, because to free the Nentyarch from a dire fate would really put the PCs in his favor. Also if they really succeeded to kill the Rotting Man, that wouldn’t change official lore very much, as according to the 4e Campaign setting, he was killed in 1373 DR anyways. Maybe I’ll blow the AP up a bit so that the PCs are a bit more powerful, or I’ll downlevel those two guys to better fit the level range the PCs are at that time we’ll see.
There’s a third power to consider in this conflict, and that is the neighboring kingdom of Impiltur. Impiltur is generally known to let their neighbors fight their own wars, but this is a bit different, as Impiltur has been fighting time and time again against invading hobgoblin armiss during history, so I can’t imagine they would look too friendly to a new hobgoblin empire in their direct vicinity. So I need something to distract Impiltur from interfering with the AP’s plot, and I actually have two ideas for that. The first would be to put Kraggodan, the AP’s dwarven city in the Earthfast mountains. We know from “Trail of the Hunted”, the first AP adventure, that the theft of an important artifact led Kraggodan to change blows with Molthune, and I guess I could do the same with the Realms’ Earthfast and Impiltur. An even more ambitious idea involves using the events of Paizo’s Curse of the Crimson Throne AP to instigate a civil war in Impiltur at the same time the hobgoblins invade the Great Dale. The really cool thing about this is that I simply could use the same mastermind for both of those events, Soneillon, the Queen of Whispers, who has manipulated events in that region for quite some centuries. Also, it would finally allow me to run this AP which is still my most favorite AP of the Pathfinder era.
And while we’re at ambitious ideas, wouldn’t it be a great thing if all those demoncysts in the region start exploding, letting an army of demons lose; I guess we would need pretty mythic heroes to let them feel the Wrath of the Righteous (yet another Paizo-AP, which would fit that topic pretty well), especially as it is known that this is kinda what happens when the Spellplague hits the region anyways in 1385 DR.
But that goes way beyond the scope of this article. Would be fun though to insert a bit of foreshadowing to that to make my players feel like they play in a living, breathing world where ther actions have actual consequences.