A few weeks ago on Ajax, I mentioned that one of the things I really like to do when I’m running a D&D or Pathfinder game is make newspapers that report on the party’s adventures. Someone asked about them in the comments, so I thought I’d post them here, too! These are the ones I made when I was running a party through the Pathfinder Carrion Crown Adventure Path.
(That series of adventures is, by the way, mostly excellent. It’s a horror-themed campaign, but in the way that it works its way through all the big monsters on your way to fighting a lich at the end, set in a grim and cheerless gothic horror country that’s essentially Paizo’s answer to D&D’s Ravenloft. The first adventure involves ghosts in a haunted prison, the second deals with a Frankenstein, then werewolves, draculas, and finally the Lich. The only big misstep is the fourth of the six adventures, which tries to go Lovecraftian and ends up doing some pretty dodgy stuff about fish-men using the women of a particular town as breeding stock. I didn’t want to deal with that, so I went off-script for a big haunted house adventure instead, with just vaguely creepy stuff happening all the time. It was a big hit and my players loved it, and still talk about that time they were menaced by birds with human faces! Anyway…)
These two were tied into the second adventure, Trial of the Beast, a really well-written and well-staged adventure where the party has to defend a Frankenstein (the Beast) in a court of law against murder charges and root out the real culprit. It’s a really interesting adventure that plays with expectations, and part of it is that these townsfolk are getting super riled up, and the party only has a Phoenix Wright-style three days to gather enough evidence before they become a torch-wielding mob and execute the Beast themselves. That’s something that can actually happen, and changes where the adventure goes from there. So if you’ve got riled up townsfolk, well, why not show the media that’s getting them all riled?
The big gag about the papers is that they’re meant to be sensational and frequently inaccurate tabloids. The first one, for instance, is my sensationalized rewrite of the information that the PCs get when they arrive in the city of Lepisdadt, with the smaller story being a report on their previous adventure. True to form, the paper gets everyone’s name wrong: Gr’garr the Bloody was actually Gregor, a somewhat naive homeschooled half-orc Cleric who liked to sing church songs, and “half-pint seer Ilya” was Ella, a halfling con artist/sorcerer who did not in fact know any divination spells. “Charmingly dimwitted knife enthusiast” was, however, a pretty good description of Mel.
That one also has my favorite joke I wrote in one of these, the one about a horrible massacre that we need not speak of, with a citation for FOUR PAGES of bloody recounting later in that edition.
The second one, however, has my second-favorite joke: referring to an adventuring party as “a traveling carnival specializing in breaking and entering, vigilante justice, and, curiously, legal services.” That’s basically every adventuring party ever, if you’re playing right.
The “big orcs” in the below-the-fold story in the second one were actually trolls, because I figured that very few common folk would know what a troll was, as very few of them would ever survive an encounter with creatures that were meant to pose an appropriate challenge to 5th-level adventurers. I do not remember why one of them was nice to the traveling merchants, as that’s not in the book, but playing good cop/bad cop with some doofy trolls that were trying to steal things from Castle Frankenstein sounds like something I’d do.
Anyway, I really like making these goofy handouts when I should be writing things for my actual job.
Good times, right Worst Party?