War For the Crown

War for the Crown is a Pathfinder ® Campaign; converted for use in the Corwyn Game-Setting

War for the Crown; the Story

War for the Crown; Player's Guide

List of PCs:

  • Brian
  • Chuck
  • Erika
  • Lene

List of NPCs:

List of Corwyn Locations:

Aristocrats of Ordana

Plot Summary

Every year, the Kingdom of Orel celebrates the Grand Day of Exaltation. On this prestigious day, the King of Orel is empowered to elevate a commoner to the ranks of nobility. The event itself is the embodiment of formality, with the elevated commoner selected months or years in advance. What makes the day truly special is that the preceding week is a holiday throughout the kingdom. Noble Lords and Ladies, and hopeful petitioners fill the capital city of Ordana for galas, performances, and parades. This flood of visitors swells the city to almost double its size, and many view the lead-up to the Grand Day of Exaltation as harking back to the kingdom’s glory days. To the nobility, the week before the Grand Day of Exaltation is a time to conduct important business deals, issue noble proclamations, and hold private parties.

With so many prominent politicians arriving from across the Kingdom, the Oramar uses Exaltation Week to vote on matters of nationwide importance. This year’s Grand Day of Exaltation is poised to mark a historic shift in the governance of the Kingdom. Princess Lorelei, daughter of King Lorien II, has forged a powerful coalition of noble bastard children, reformers, and— perhaps, most importantly— senators to vote down the ancient law of primogeniture. The law states that royal power can pass only to a male heir—a succession that cannot be enacted due to Lorelei’s status as the current Grand Prince’s sole heir.

Rumors have circulated about the princess’s quest to strike down primogeniture for years, and the nation remains divided on the vote, with several nobles viewing it as a shameless power grab by Princess Lorelei. Others see Lorelei as a stabilizing force that could unify the Kingdom and usher in a new golden age for Orel. Princess Lorelei is the firstborn child of King Lorien II. She stepped forth into the political arena only following the death of her younger brother 20 years ago. Prince Cassius, like Lorelei, was beloved by the people of Orel, and many hoped the boy would succeed his ineffective father and usher in an era of change.

When the prince died in what was reported as a riding accident, Lorelei’s grief uncovered a deep well of empathy. More understanding of death and suffering, she became a crusader for the poor and for the basic rights of every Orellian citizen. As her work repeatedly ran up against the old-fashioned values of Orel, Lorelei became a crusader for women’s rights as well. Unknown to Lorelei and the people of the Orel, Cassius’ death was an accident, but one dealt by human hands. King Lorien’s jealousy over his children’s popularity eventually gave way to paranoia and a growing suspicion that the still-teenage Cassius was plotting his overthrow.
His contempt paved the way to an abusive relationship with his son. One dreary day in the castle garden, while beating his son over the matter of horse grooming, King Lorien accidentally shoved his heir down the stone stairs of the stable, a fall that snapped the boy’s neck. The Grand Prince and an Royal Guard named Herzog, the only witnesses, both insisted the boy was thrown from his horse, and a momentous week of mourning was held across the kingdom.

As, nobles and commoners alike wept for the young prince, Lorien quietly ordered the execution of the only witness to his crime. The King forbade any attempts to resurrect the boy—arguing that so pure a soul belonged at Heaven’s gate—ensuring none would learn of the filicide he had performed. Only weeks after the Crown Prince’s death, an organization known as the Immaculate Circle interceded. One of Orel’s myriad aristocratic secret societies, the Circle fancies its members as being masters of life and death and inheritors of secrets carried to the grave.

The Circle conjured up the spirit of Herzog to learn from him the true nature of the young prince’s death. Knowing that such a secret could bend the Grand Prince to their will, but would be worthless once revealed, the Circle’s members have sat on the terrible truth for decades, waiting for the perfect opportunity to leak this damning fact. As the Adventure Path begins, the Grand Day of Exaltation approaches. Princess Lorelei and her allies stand poised to end primogeniture and pave the road to the first Queen of Orel.

But to Lorien's paranoid mind, Lorelei’s bid for power can only mean that she is planning to kill him and usurp his throne. Unwilling to give up his power or his life so easily, King Lorien formed a secret alliance with various unscrupulous nobles from neighboring nations, to import a small private army. Rather than stop the Oramar’s vote, Lorien intends to let the wheels of politics turn, and then execute his daughter and those who supported her actions as traitors to the Kingdom as they celebrate their victory!

“Crownfall” begins with the player characters serving as the undercover agents of the Lady Marcella, the illegitimate daughter of the prestigious House Theed. The campaign traits detailed in the War for the Crown Player’s Guide, available online for free at paizo.com, offer potential hints to both why the PCs are in attendance at the Oramar festivities and how they came to the attention of this burgeoning spymaster; if you don’t use these traits, you may wish to provide your players with other options for how Lady Theed first contacted the PCs and why.

They may be minor nobles looking to make their own impact in Orel’s social scene, similarly estranged members of the Theed family, or relative unknowns associated with Lorelei’s various reformation campaigns, recruited specifically because the nation’s pompous aristocrats don’t know anything about them. As Marcella’s covert agents, each of the PCs attends the Grand Day of Exaltation festivities at the Oramar Assembly in Ordana with a specific mission.

This adventure assumes the campaign starts on the Grand Day of Exaltation, and does not provide any dedicated time for the PCs to explore Ordana or to get to know one another. You are encouraged to include additional content before the adventure to further cement the ties between the PCs, as well as introduce the players to Ordana and the Kingdom of Orel. This also allows player characters to learn what their missions and requirements are and still have time to shop for supplies. The week-long festival provides ample time for you to add in prior encounters or additional social scenes to establish the PCs’ relations with one another. None of this is required, however, as “Crownfall” jumps straight into the action.

The campaign assumes the PCs have already met with Marcella individually and may or may not be meeting one another for the first time as part of a pre-mission briefing. Among other resources that may be listed in their campaign traits, Marcella provides each PC a 30-gp line of credit at her favorite tailor shop, Thread Rare.
This is enough to acquire a courtier’s outfit at no cost to the PC, or the character can provide the remaining 45 gp for a noble’s outfit for the Oramar festivities; in either case, Marcella also arranges the loan of enough high-quality costume jewelry to complete each outfit. Lady Theed plays off her interests—and her reason for hiring the PCs—as a scheming young noble hoping to topple and take control of the arrogant family who rejected her, a half-truth on the young engineer’s part.
What she will not reveal is her connection to Lorelei and that all her activities this evening are to help ensure the vote against primogeniture goes smoothly. Much of the War for the Crown Adventure Path continues this theme of the player characters staying out of the national spotlight and distancing themselves from Princess Lorelei. As the bright scion of the Korannen family line works to win the trust of the Orellian people, the PCs serve on the front lines of the shadow war raging out of most peoples’ sight.

PART 1: ALL THE KING’S MEN (adventure background)
The adventure begins in the Ordana, capital city of Orel. Visitors flock to Ordana in the days leading up to the Grand Day of Exaltation. The populace of the city doubles during this time, making Ordana larger than any other city in the region. The self-importance of the already prideful Orellian people swells in equal measure. Street vendors sell traditional Orellian foods and regional delicacies from across Corwyn. Family banners and provincial flags drape the sides of most buildings, with merchants hawking heraldry ranging from replica banners of the old Armies of Valdor , down to wooden swords and hand-held Orellian flags for children.

Taverns offer themed drink and food, with varying bars adopting well-known nobles from the long history of the Kingdom as their mascot or self-declared patron. Alongside all the pomp and circumstance filling Ordana is a note-worthy moment in history: the Oramar is poised to hold a historic vote to end primogeniture. The potential end of the millennia-standing law of succession is the talk of the town. Streets and taverns are abuzz with conversations; some wish to see the law thrown down to pave a way for Princess Lorelei to ascend to the throne, while hardliners (especially elder nobles) believe the vote to be another wound in the great history of the Kingdom, allowing not only the rabble-rousing Lorelei to inherit family power, but every ill-deserving woman. Regardless of the outcome, both sides of the debate agree that life will go on, and despite the serious ramifications of primogeniture’s potential end, the streets of Ordana hold no signs of unrest during the jubilant celebrations of the Grand Day of Exaltation.

CROWNFALL—Levels 1–3
As all of Orel prepares to celebrate the Grand Day of Exaltation, the senate prepares to vote on whether or strike down the ancient law of primogeniture and allow Princess Lorelei to become Orel’s heir apparent. The PCs attend the senate gala as guests of a noble named Marcella Theed, acting as her agents to conduct minor petty intrigues. But Grand Prince Stavian is convinced the Senate’s vote that night marks a turn to treason, and he unleashes his mercenaries to slaughter hundreds. The bloodbath triggers eons’ worth of protective magic—most long forgotten—teleporting the PCs and several others into the forgotten sublevels below the capital. The PCs must brave long-lost dangers to free themselves and rush to the aid of Marcella Theed. Upon saving her from more of Stavian’s hired killers, the aristocrat reveals her true agenda as a spy in the employ of Princess Lorelei.

Now agents of Princess Lorelei in her bid for the throne of Orel, the PCs must assist her in reclaiming her lands from her father’s former allies. Chief among these are the members of Marcella Theed’s estranged family, who have managed the Royal country estate for generations and now refuse to relinquish it. Without a military force to rely upon, Lorelei needs cunning agents to usurp control from the Theeds while undoing the damage their callous rule has done.

With a base of operations secure, Princess Lorelei asks the PCs to forge an alliance with the fickle Duchy of Kasada, located far to the north. In the northern city of Jhannis, the PCs discover a host of troubles, including an agent of Maxillar Voritas; Count Xander Merkondus, who is trying to woo the city to support Lord Maxillar’s bid for the Gilded Throne. The PCs must find and stop the source of mysterious Rynnish raids while investigating a strange new cult in the city that worships a young man with miraculous healing powers. The raids are false-flag attacks organized by Voritas’ agent; Xander Merkondus, to inflame hostilities between Orel and Alveron, but the cult is something else entirely. While the leaders of the Cult of the Twilight Child have their own nefarious agendas, the subject of their faith is none other than the long-dead Prince Cassius II, apparently risen and returned to Orel in the nation’s hour of need.

CITY IN THE LION’S EYE— Levels 10–12
With the twin revelations that Prince Cassius II is returned from the dead and Maxillar Voritas is trying to provoke a war with Alveron, Princess Lorelei turns to Orel’s oldest secret society; the Lion Blades. While Lorelei investigates her little brother’s resurrection, the Lion Blades train the PCs in the arts of deception and disguise to help them infiltrate Voritas’s stronghold, located in the fortress city of Jhannis. In the end, with evidence of Maxillar Voritas’s betrayal of Orel and attacks on her people to advance his own agenda, the PCs must fulfill their duties as newly appointed Lion Blades and bring this enemy of Orel to justice.

Even with Maxillar Voritas’s bid for the Gilded Throne crushed, a dire failsafe now bars the two remaining candidates; Princess Lorelei and her uncle Stavian, from ascending the Gilded Throne. Without an heir apparent, Orel begins to unravel as every noble fights tooth-and-nail for the Throne. To find a legitimate ruler the nation can unite behind, the PCs must plunge into the myths and lore that surround Orel’s earliest founding and eventually pass into the Great Beyond to seek the blessing of Valden the Conqueror. But first, the PCs must find the legendary figure, lost somewhere in the infinite city of Axis, and make their way back before assassins render their mission moot.

As the PCs attend a royal funeral, Prince Cassius reveals that his returning memories point squarely at a cult that brought him back from the grave and dispatched assassins to eliminate his sister. He directs the PCs to avenge his sister by wiping out the Immaculate Circle, but they return from their mission to find themselves labeled traitors and assassins, accused of murdering Princess Lorelei by Cassius—now Grand Prince Cassius II, emperor of Orel! Cassius II does not sit on the throne of Orel alone: six terrible, overwhelming legends of kings long past rule through his mortal frame, using the boy as a vessel to return their empire to glory through a path of blood and fire. The PCs must face Orel’s greatest champions—both the living and the legendary—to free the Kingdom from the rule of monsters and restore Lorelei’s soul to her body.