The sophomore adventure in the War for the Crown Adventure Path follows more of the political intrigue and social maneuvering from the first. It’s designed to run directly after Crownfall, with PCs beginning at 4th level and advancing to 7th at the conclusion.
In Songbird, Scion, Saboteur, the PCs travel north to the county of Meratt, assuming the role of long-lost nobles, hob-nobbing at posh parties, helping the local populace with various odd-jobs and missions, and culminating in the PCs’ invasion of the ruling noble.
The adventure hits all the right beats, though running many areas, particularly the mini open-world section of Part 2, could prove tricky to run in Roll20.
The following content is included in the $24.99 Songbird, Scion, Saboteur (War for the Crown 2 of 6) module:
- 4 5-ft battle map with Dynamic Lighting (for Roll20 subscribers)
- 1 non-gridded overland map (County of Meratt)
- 44 named NPC character sheets with matching tokens and GM descriptions (16 w/ pics & player handouts)
- 46 NPC monster sheets with draggable tokens, vision, and separate player handouts.
- 68 Magic Item player handouts (22w/ pics)
- Alphabetized token page of all NPCs and creatures.
- Available as an add-on to the existing War for the Crown Adventure, allowing a seamless transition from Crownfall.
- Journal organized into three parts, each containing DM notes, maps and player handouts
- Detailed notes on the locations and history of Meratt.
- Rollable tables for optional random encounters and rumors around Meratt.
Part 1: Songbird opens with the PCs’ acceptance of their next task from Lady Martella and Princess Eutropia: pose as the long-lost nobles from the Betony noble house and win the hearts and minds of both the neighboring nobles and the surrounding commonfolk.
It’s a much more esoteric, open-ended plot than the linear, blood-soaked action from Crownfall. It fits the political theme very well. Like Crownfall, this adventure also starts with a major social situation: The Palace of Birdsong.
When the PCs arrive in Meratt they get a chance to meet most of the major players in the area via the Tanager Jubilee, hosted by Lady Martella’s half-brother Bartelby Lotheed.
The Dramatis Personae is much shorter than in the first adventure. Thus major NPCs like Bartelby can really shine, with multiple paragraphs of history, personality, possible influences, and their specific roles during the campaign.
Part 1 doesn’t seem as difficult to run as the Senate meeting in Crownfall, but once again the included Roll20 map isn’t quite ready for action. The primary problem is that the Palace map is used both in Part 1 and Part 3, when the PCs later return to confront Bartelby (most likely violently assaulting the palace).
The Palace map depicts all the pieces described in the Palace proper, such as guards and the Lotheed family. Yet none of the guests described in Part 1 are included, not even on the GM Layer. There’s supposed to be around 40 NPCs at the party, and like Crownfall the lack of generic tokens makes the map feel overly empty.
Like the Senate meeting from Crownfall, a number of scripted events occur during the jubilee, as well as giving the PCs several chances to socially influence any of the people there. It’s a fun, mostly combat-free two-day event. I wonder if every adventure in this campaign will start with a lengthy social sequence to drive home the political importance of each area.
Part 2: Scion refers to the PCs’ taking up the mantle of local nobles in the area. After the linearity of Crownfall and being railroaded to the Jubilee, the campaign finally opens up, letting the PCs freely explore the county of Meratt. It’s a much needed section in the campaign and the Meratt overland map is fantastic, with lots of GM-Layer names and notations.
The goal is to improve the PCs’ reputation in the region, tracked by Loyalty Points. These points are then compared to a chart when the PCs begin Part 3, and determine how much help (or hindrance) the PCs receive from their neighbors. It’s a very video game way of measuring social standing, and it works perfectly fine here.
While I love giving control of the narrative over to the PCs for a good chunk of this adventure, it does make it tricky for the DM. To compound the problem, only three of the 12 detailed locations in Meratt are given maps. And one of them is the PCs’ home base at the Betony Estate, where nothing really happens other than a trio of territorial domovoi, who are more like mischievous gremlins than dangerous foes.
The other two mapped locations provide fun little dungeon crawls. Dungeon is probably too strong a word as both are only a handful of rooms each: a pump house haunted by ghouls and an otyugh, and a cursed estate with a history that echoes Beauty and the Beast, only instead of a handsome beast the prince was transformed into a malformed spider-monster and feasted on the locals. Not exactly Disney material.
Those are both fun locations but there’s a lot more side questing to be had in Part 2, none of which is mapped in Roll20.
There’s a unique swan-themed fey that harries the locals around a Lake, though she can also be a potential ally if the PCs help slay a terrorizing ooze. A noblewoman’s daughter’s depression can be traced to a creepy undead spider-thing full of unrequited love, luring her into the garden every night to drain her life. The PCs can tackle the local vigilante, the Night Swan, who’s a romantic bandit to the commoners and a ruthless anarchist to the nobles. The PCs can also embark on a fishing trip as they try to catch an infamously huge, 20-ft catfish called The General (CR 5!), which sounds like an absolutely wonderful excuse for funny hi-jinks.
None of these lakes or towns are given maps, unfortunately, leading to any DM running this adventure to pick up the pieces, as many of them include combat encounters. The compromises the bulk of the adventure and I love the way it’s handled, but I wish it had included a few more maps to support it.
Part 3: Saboteur returns our PCs to the Palace of Birdsong. They have one final mission: obtain the Lotheed family charter and seize the entire property, essentially becoming the new ruling counts of the region and expanding Eutropia’s influence.
This requires the PCs to infiltrate the palace, either violently kicking down the door, stealthily sneaking in, or even talking their way. Much of it depends on their Loyalty level in the region as well as how their interactions with Count Lotheed have transpired (the adventure even suggests he can be a possible romance for one of the PCs, which could be deliciously dramatic if played right).
In fact, there are extensive rules on verbal dueling, meaning the PCs can literally defeat the final boss just by talking to him, which is fantastic.
This climactic siege is the closest thing the adventure has to a traditional dungeon crawl. Despite being a noble’s mansion, the house features several spiffy creatures, including construct columns, living topiary, a chair that transforms into a wood golem, a creepy undead child called an Attic Whisperer, and an even creepier nightmare-inducing insectoid called an ichkoh.
While repeating the same map as Part 1 is kind of lame, it does make the PCs’ exploration and events within the Palace in Part 1 pay off during their attack in the finale. At the conclusion, the PCs have deposed the Count and wrested control of the the entire county, hopefully with the backing of most of its residents. I love that this adventure features a complete beginning, middle, and end while still part of the larger War for the Crown campaign.
- Extensive supplemental rules on verbal duels, building loyalty, and leveraging influence.
- Part 2 gives the PCs a detailed overland map and tons of choices and events to tackle, letting them guide their own actions and narrative in Meratt.
- Memorable, unique creatures and encounters, like the cursed spider-Duke, the giant golden river snake, the shapechanging swan fey, and the love-obsessed undead spider.
- The Palace of Birdsong map is used in Part 1 and Part 3, but the Roll20 map is only set up for Part 3.
- Not nearly enough maps for the number of locations featured in Part 2.