Iron King, Redux

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My players have expressed interest in the plot hook I left open for the Iron King module.  At this point, they're only level 2, but it's a large group, they have a LOT of cards (all from the box, mind you, just a large hand) and a lot of tactical know-how on their side.  Having seen some complaints about the module itself (from being too hard to not being "Gamma Worldy" enough), I figure this is my opportunity to run through the adventure with a fine-toothed comb.  I'm looking for any opportunity to make the fights more fun, more dangerous, more flavorful, etc.  I'm not above adding or removing fights, or even wild revision (I input all the monsters in the MB anyhow, so I have no issue with completely rewriting them either).  

For those who have run through the module as a player OR gamemaster, what improvements would you most want to see made to Steading of the Iron King?
I think the real problem with the module is that it has no plot nor any characters as such. It's just moving from one combat encounter to the next. For me and my group, that just isn't fun -- might as well just play a board game.
If you had to inject a plot and/or characters into the module, how and where would you do so?
Here's an idea I wanted to try out, but couldn't since my group takes turns GMing:

Try separating the adventure into 2 dungeons. The first dungeon will be the badder warren, ending with Encounter 3. After Encounter 3, they'll find the Archivists' map to the underground ruins of the Stupendico factory on one of the badders or somewhere else in the room.

The Archivists' map will lead them to the second dungeon beginning with Encounter 4. This will give the characters a chance to recuperate, they'll have more incentive to do something about the prisoners in Encounter 3 (which my group just abandoned), and you could create a skill challenge to interpret the map to figure out where the factory ruins are located.

If the PCs could somehow untrance (perhaps by reversing the machine's effects to restore their minds, or through use of the PCs' psychic powers) the prisoners, they might have valuable information and be able to help the PCs in return for freeing them.
I added minimal plot using what was in the encounters myself. Using the information PC's can gather at the beginning, one of my players is on a "personal side-quest" to discover what happened to her father after he got involved in a "secret mission" with the Archivists - which helped prompt them into investigating the town's robot problem.
 
(I also created the entire town of Dustpen and various characters for them to encounter/explore.)

As we've only played as far as the first encounter, when they discover the prisoners, they will learn from an Archivist (hopefully) that the PC's father was with them, but they were separated when captured and his whereabouts will still elude them.
The Iron King himself, named Hister, is hoping he can eventually master the workings of the Stupendico facility to jumpstart his campaign to subjicate all of Amer-Ka and eventually dominate all Gamma Terra.

It is my hope the PCs will dump him in the vat of wild nano as I will bring him back later on as a more powerful villian with cybernetic enhancements forced upon him by the nano.  If that doesn't happen, I'll still find a way for Hister to return and continue his missions of conquest.

Hopefully...we'll see...
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I also made the prisoners"snap out of it"once the machine was turned off, and after they explained they were the survivors of the previous attempt to stop the robots... they joined the party.
Why did the hoop cross the road?
One option I considered for a little extra plotness was making the yexil essentially a slave, also.  Of course, the difficulty is getting my players out of the "kill it make it dead" mindset long enough to notice that.
I also made the prisoners"snap out of it"once the machine was turned off, and after they explained they were the survivors of the previous attempt to stop the robots... they joined the party.


I did similar... Ir eally think the prisoners may be the most important key to adding plotness.
I added minimal plot using what was in the encounters myself. Using the information PC's can gather at the beginning, one of my players is on a "personal side-quest" to discover what happened to her father after he got involved in a "secret mission" with the Archivists - which helped prompt them into investigating the town's robot problem.
 
(I also created the entire town of Dustpen and various characters for them to encounter/explore.)

As we've only played as far as the first encounter, when they discover the prisoners, they will learn from an Archivist (hopefully) that the PC's father was with them, but they were separated when captured and his whereabouts will still elude them.
The Iron King himself, named Hister, is hoping he can eventually master the workings of the Stupendico facility to jumpstart his campaign to subjicate all of Amer-Ka and eventually dominate all Gamma Terra.

It is my hope the PCs will dump him in the vat of wild nano as I will bring him back later on as a more powerful villian with cybernetic enhancements forced upon him by the nano.  If that doesn't happen, I'll still find a way for Hister to return and continue his missions of conquest.

Hopefully...we'll see...



I really like the "father" sidequest... and plan on using that one... as well as the Hister cyborg returning at a later date for revenge. Awesome ideas.
Why did the hoop cross the road?
I also think the Yexil being a slave... and liberated by the players offers some options... he could join the party and aid them in their quest... until they run out of clothes to feed him...
Why did the hoop cross the road?
Oddly, none of my current characters wear clothes, except armor-that-is-not-clothing.
Oddly, none of my current characters wear clothes, except armor-that-is-not-clothing.

Bummer.
Why did the hoop cross the road?
I actually inserted the module after some setup: the PCs wanted access to the local blackmarket run by Minotaurs.  The payment to enter, as decreed by The Dairy Queen (she is a cow-woman, after all...), was 20 robot processor chips.  This led the PCs to find out there may be an old robot facility nearby.  Of course, The Dairy Queen wanted the chips because she was raising her own robot army for (insert whatever you want here), but the PCs didn't know that at the time.  So, in my game, the plot kind of surrounded the module; I didn't add any plot, per se, to the module itself, but I did give a good in game reason for them to be looking for the Stupendico factory.
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The Iron King himself, named Hister, is hoping he can eventually master the workings of the Stupendico facility to jumpstart his campaign to subjicate all of Amer-Ka and eventually dominate all Gamma Terra.




Hister... nice name Nostradamus. ;)


The Iron King himself, named Hister, is hoping he can eventually master the workings of the Stupendico facility to jumpstart his campaign to subjicate all of Amer-Ka and eventually dominate all Gamma Terra.




Hister... nice name Nostradamus. ;)




As my good friend Finn likes to say... Homee's help homee's...
Why did the hoop cross the road?

The Iron King himself, named Hister, is hoping he can eventually master the workings of the Stupendico facility to jumpstart his campaign to subjicate all of Amer-Ka and eventually dominate all Gamma Terra.




Hister... nice name Nostradamus. ;)




As my good friend Finn likes to say... Homee's help homee's...



That reference is over me head. You are impressive, padawan.


The Iron King himself, named Hister, is hoping he can eventually master the workings of the Stupendico facility to jumpstart his campaign to subjicate all of Amer-Ka and eventually dominate all Gamma Terra.




Hister... nice name Nostradamus. ;)




As my good friend Finn likes to say... Homee's help homee's...



That reference is over me head. You are impressive, padawan.


Its from a cartoon my kid watches called Adventure Time... its about a kid adventurer and his magic dog who are wanna be knights and go on quests in the name of rightiousness to fight bad guys. They have the funniest one liners and fart jokes there are... and thats one of their high-five lines. Sorry, I just have no life...
Why did the hoop cross the road?
I don't feel so bad then. Kid Pop Culture is not in on my radar. Well, not to that level of detail anyway. I could tell how Spongebob used to wear roundpants, but that's NSFW.
Follow up: we don't get very far as a whole, maybe two or three encounters per session, two sessions per month.  

Long story short, the players came across a much tougher set of opponents and a sleeping yexil.  When it started to wake, the players pulled a plot twist card (god, I love them so much) stating that the hawkoid-felinoid remembered a dance from her childhood that was used for lulling a yexil to sleep and proceeded to do said dance (with a bonus for standing up and acting like an idiot for a little while).  The players have no idea how well this segues into the yexil v. felinoid-hawkoids-holed-up-in-the-lingerie-store plotline from my other thread.  Anyhow, the badder slave drivers woke it up, pissed it off, and the player fought a two-front battle until they killed the slave drivers and it took off.  I plan on the yexil showing up later but I haven't figured out specifically how yet (either as a merchant, a random out-of-the-blue ally next time a fight goes badly, a random out-of-the-blue ally when they call for one with a plot twist card, or perhaps a contact for resolving the yexil-catbird conflict).

More plot hooks to come.

 
I'm hooking Steading of the Iron King to Legion of Gold.

In my game, the slaves near the machine in encounter 3 are the Archivists that originally went to reclaim the factory. A Hoop mercenary gang took over the place and made them slaves. The players have the choice whether or not to hand the factory over to the Archivists in the end. The Archivists see NERO as their Deus ex Machina and believe that NERO actually is God. So by helping the Archivists, the players actually bring about the Legion of Gold events.
Man, that is an awesome idea...
Why did the hoop cross the road?
I'm hooking Steading of the Iron King to Legion of Gold.

In my game, the slaves near the machine in encounter 3 are the Archivists that originally went to reclaim the factory. A Hoop mercenary gang took over the place and made them slaves. The players have the choice whether or not to hand the factory over to the Archivists in the end. The Archivists see NERO as their Deus ex Machina and believe that NERO actually is God. So by helping the Archivists, the players actually bring about the Legion of Gold events.




Sounds cool. How exactly do the archivists bring about the Legion of Gold? I'm trying to remember how that module's backstory goes.
Legion of Gold is basically NERO being a bugged AI and believing the imperfect Earth must be wiped out and remade. The Archivists will basically see this as their 'God' telling them that they are flawed and must be reborn. I plan on bringing the Archivists back towards the end of Legion of Gold as cyborg generals for NERO.
Oh, I thought you meant they turned Nero back on or some such. I think it would be cool if the archivists actually are to blame for Nero. That way, the characters actually engender the trouble they then must resolve. Or not.