View Full Version : [Pathfinder one-off advanture] Chase through Katapesh City

2010-10-07, 05:33 PM
I’ve decided to start writing up my more successful game sessions as one-off modules.
I’ve tried pretty hard to make this good, but there’s always room to improve.
If you use this in your game, I ask only that you comment here to let me know how it went.

My game is using the Pathfinder system which is similar to 3rd edition D&D, but this module should be *very* easy to port to other systems.

The Chase scene
The players are chasing three assassins (4th level rogues) through the city to find their hideout.

Design Notes
This is a great scene because you can insert it into any mid-size or larger city at almost any point in a campaign.

I suspect it would also run well as a short standalone.

I’ve tried to avoid using magic where there is a non-magical alternative - the antagonists have a healing potion each and a rope which a first-level wizard has cast “Rope Trick” on.

This module leads the players along a clear, linear path (I’ve yet to see a module do a good job of making a non-linear story) - however, there are many opportunities to find unconventional uses for their characters abilities, and .

The string of coincidences in this scene is intentionally a little bit ridiculous.

Note: This was geared towards three 6th level characters, and none were particularly mobile classes - we had a sorceror, a cleric and a fighter.

Feel free to adjust the difficulty up or down as appropriate.

Remember to describe any changes appropriately - e.g. change a regular rope to a knotted rope for an easier climb check, or remove the rope altogether for a higher level party.

New Mechanic: Chase Advantage Points
I’ve named the rule I used in this scene ‘Chase Advantage Points’.

These points represent how well each PC is doing in the chase.

Every time someone passes a check in the chase by 5 points or more, I gave them an advantage point for each 5 points they rolled in excess of the target DC.

I also took one away when they failed a check, if failing indicated they would be slowed down.

I used red and blue poker chips to represent negative and positive numbers of advantage points.

If you have at least 5 points of chase advantage, you have caught up to the assassins and can spend the 5 points for an attack or similar action.

The lead-in

In my game, this scene opened after the party were sent down the hall by their employer, Kassim, to meet his major-domo (head servant).

When the party enter the majordomos office, three assassins have the terrified servant cornered.

One assassin tells the others that “This isn’t him; kill her and let’s keep looking” (implying that the real target is someone else in the house).

When they see the party, they run for it through one of the two doors in the office after using a smoke-bomb and dropping caltrops.

Kassim shows up as they escape and yells "Find out where their safe-house is" at the party.

The Chase

The chase was resolved using a series of checks of varying difficulty.

Once every PC passed a check, I would describe the next thing the assassins do.

Note: By the time one or two of these encounters have played out, everyone has been running for several minutes, probably in full battle gear. If the characters are not supernaturally fit, they are fatigued after the first or second encounter and exhausted after the third or fourth.

The chase starts inside a hallway in a palace. The thieves have just lit a smokestick [rule link] (essentially a smokebomb) in the hall. Concealed by the smoke, they have knocked over a statue in the hallway and spread caltrops [image link, rule link] beyond it before running away.

Down the smoky hallway

The party give chase down the hall.

If they move slowly through the smoke, they...

Bump into something hard at knee-height (the statue).
Can climb or jump over the statue (call for a DC 10 check; no taking 10, failure causes them to fall on the caltrops)
Avoid the caltrops by moving carefully
If they move quickly through the smoke, they will certainly trip over the statue and face-plant on the caltrops.
If they fall on the caltrops, they take 1d6 piercing damage and lose one point of chase advantage (it can go negative).

As they come out of the smoke, they see the three assassins duck around a corner.

At this point the sorcerer in the party used haste; This lasted until the hedge maze (~6 rounds) and gave each character an extra advantage point in each challenge.

Don’t forget to give out the advantage points for extraordinary success!

Around the corner

The assassins attach a rope & grappling hook to a statue opposite a window on the first floor, then rappel down.

The party can

Attempt to dislodge or cut the rope (strength DC 20 or deal 4+ damage with a slashing weapon) for 1 advantage point
Follow them via the rope (climb DC 10 or fall for 1d6 and -1 advantage)
Follow them by jumping down (jump DC 20 to avoid damage; +1 advantage on success, 1d6 damage and -1 advantage on failure)
Through the hedge maze

The assassins run into the hedge maze.

To find the way through, the PC’s need to make a DC 15 intelligence check, or go around.

Through the maze: Make a DC 15 intelligence check to get through (failure: stuck in the maze until you pass the check. Lose 1 advantage for each failed check).

Around the maze: Lose 2 advantage whilst running around the long way.

Onto the wall

The assassins hoist one of their number onto the palace walls with an impressive jump. He drops a rope for them to climb up.

When the PC’s get to the wall, he has dropped the rope.

They will need to get up (or through) the wall which is 20’ high on this side and 40’ high on the other (it’s atop a small cliff).

One of my players used the 3rd level “Stone Shape” spell to turn the wall into a slide down to the street. I gave two advantage points, three or even four would have been appropriate for this sort of thinking.

Down the other side

On the other side of the street from the wall there are shade-cloths above windows (stacked vertically, ideal for slowing a fall). The assassins jump across the street and land on the top one, tearing through each layer before landing on the street and tipping over an apple-cart.

By this point, everyone is fatigued (-2 to physical stats)

The PC’s will have to get down 40’ quickly and safely - but with the shade-cloths gone, this will be easier said than done!

Anyone stepping on the street below needs to make a DC 10 balance check to walk slowly through the apples. If they hurry, make that DC 15.

Into the alleyway, over the fence

The assassins rush into an alleyway nearby.

A flimsy wall blocks their way, and crates have been stacked against it.

They climb up the crates to reach the top of the wall easily, but knock them over before leaving.

PC’s can attempt a climb check (DC 15) to clamber over the boxes, or a strength check (DC 15) to go through.

Into the church

The assassins duck into the side door of a church with a tall tower further down the alley.

When they follow, the priest has been knocked flat but is otherwise unharmed.

He tells the PC’s that they went up the tower.

By this point, everyone is exhausted (-6 to physical stats)

To the top

As the PC’s climb up, the assassins are preparing to use a rope they placed here earlier as a zipline to get away.

The first PC to arrive should make a perception check (DC 15) or they will be blindsided by a sneak attack and pushed back down the stairs (make a DC 15 reflex save to avoid 1d6 damage by staying on your feet down the stairs).

All the other PC’s gain an advantage point, and this one loses one. If they got pushed down the stairs and failed the save, they lose two.

Zipline to the fairground

The assassins slide down the rope tied at an angle from the bell tower, and in the process sound the bell. Any PC standing at the top of the tower must make a DC 15 fort save or be stunned for 1 round (lose 1 advantage) and deafened for 1 hour.

The assassins drop in through the roof of a marquee at the fairground - into the hall of mirrors.

Any player who thinks of landing outside the tent should make a dex check DC 5 (gaining advantage for beating it as usual). Not one of mine did.

The hall of mirrors

Assuming the players follow them into the circus tent, everyone lands in a different part of the mirror hall. Each can make a DC 15 intelligence check to find their way out.

Running through mirrors involves taking 1d6 damage per mirror and grants a +2 bonus on the intelligence check.

Smashing mirrors with a weapon instead of running through at top speed takes time; lose one advantage point per mirror.

I had a dwarf in the party with a particular hatred of orcs, so I had a human fairground attendant dressed as an orc run up to make scary noises at him (as happens in haunted houses today). The PC cut off the attendants leg before realising that it was just a dressed up human when he dropped and started screaming “my leg! my leg! what the hell, man”. Later, the party encountered him begging in the streets.


The assassins run out of the hall of mirrors and steal masks from a nearby stall before joining a dress-up parade. The PC’s can make a DC 25 perception check to identify them quickly (or lose 1 advantage) - otherwise they see them when they run away from the parade a little way further down.

Make a strength check (DC 10, don’t forget the exhaustion penalty) to push through the crowd, convince the crowd to move quickly (diplomacy is too slow), or lose 1 advantage waiting for a gap in the parade.

My, what a big painting you have

The assassins now run out of the fairgrounds and down to a narrow bridge over the river.

Four men walk by seconds later, carrying a huge tapestry and blocking the way (-1 advantage).

Someone very rich will be *really* upset if they ruin the tapestry.

Cross the river

Make a constitution check to see how fast you can still run after all this time (DC 10) for more advantage.

The bridge is high and some slum buildings by the short have lower rooftops than the bridge.

They jump off the bridge onto a rooftop and start jumping from roof to roof.

Have PC’s who follow them make a DC 10 knowledge (architecture and engineering) check to identify a spot strong enough to land on. Failure indicates they fall on to the dinner table of some poor family sitting down to a meal (lose 2 advantage & take 1d6 falling damage).

Those who fall can follow along on the ground.


Have the PC’s make four DC 10 jump checks to get from roof to roof, followed by a DC 15 jump check.

As they are rushed, they can’t take 10.

Failure indicates they lose 1 advantage and take 1d6 falling damage.

Those who fall can follow along on the ground.

Sail into the sunset

The assassins clamber down from the roof, jump onto a boat on the river and start rowing furiously.

The PC’s will have to steal a boat and row after them.

The boat is tied up - DC 10 use rope or 4 slashing damage will be required to cut it free.

If two or more PC’s try to use one boat, have them make balance checks (DC 10 for 2 PC’s, 15 for 3 or more) to avoid tipping the boat over.

Choose up to two oarsmen to make DC 10 strength checks (DC 15 for one oarsman); Everyone on the boat loses 1 advantage if any fail, but if both succeed everyone gains 1.

Row, row, row your boat

The PC’s are rowing after the assassins when one of them throws a glass vial at the boat.

Moments later, half the boat is aflame and everyone takes 1 fire damage.

One of my players cast create water to put out the flame, which makes 2 gallons per caster level. This almost sunk the boat, but it did put out the fire.

Shiver me Shurikens

One of the assassins looks wistfully at a throwing blade (he’s got a sentimental attachment to this one) before throwing it at the PC’s boat. The blade is made of adamantine and goes right through the hull - the PC’s are taking on water.

At no point did my players consider using create water to sink the *other* boat. If it happens, have the assassins swim hard for shore - the PC’s should be having enough trouble staying afloat to give them a chance to get away.

If the players boat sinks, remember that armor and exhaustion make even simple swimming checks nearly impossible. The river is only two metres deep however - they can just walk out along the bottom if they sink (lose 3 advantage).

Dry land

The assassins land their boat nearby and run into a building across the road. This is the safehouse they planned to fall back on - the windows are boarded up and they bar the door.

Then, they use the one magic item they have - a bottle of oil which when rubbed on a rope casts ‘Rope Trick’ on it (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells---final/rope-trick).
They put the rope on top of a thin lead sheet in the attic, then climb in and hide.

Rope Trick

My players burst in and found the rope using detect magic (despite the lead sheet).

Once they figured out what magic it was, the fighter got in, intending to beat them all senseless.

Instead, the assassins threatened to cut the wall of the extra-dimensional space they were in, which they claimed would kill everyone present (a blatant lie; it would just end the spell).

Nonetheless, the players fell for it and the assassins got away.

The PC’s got the name of the assassins guild from talking to them beforehand, and that combined with the location of the safehouse is enough for their employer to find out who sent them.

If you don’t need the assassins for a later plot, let the PC’s finish them off in the safehouse. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to beat some heads after being lead on such a long chase. Once again, remember the exhaustion won’t be gone until they rest for awhile, so both sides are at a substantial penalty.

What my players did

Some notes on things I didn't expect from my players

Haste - this should have been obvious - it's the sorcerors favorite spell, but I didn't expect it. I gave them an extra advantage point each for each of the first 3 challenges.
Stone Shape - The cleric needed to get over a stone wall, but was no good at climbing - so she made a hole and ran through. I should have given more than two advantage points for this.
Create Water - This spell makes a lot of water. Nobody used it during the boating chase, though.
Locate Object - I knew the players had this and expected them to use it, but they never fell far enough behind to need it.

2010-10-07, 05:35 PM
Yuck, it ate my formatting.
See it properly here:

2010-10-07, 07:35 PM
It looks good, but I think my players would catch the assassins far before the end, severely cutting it's length. It looks fun, but I suspect I would have to fiat ways for the assassins to escape, and my players would quite dissatisfied at that. :smallfrown: nice little chase though.