I would love to run The Blakros Matrimony as a module.
Like Fortress of the Nail before it, the scenario has a steep diplomatic angle. The players are tasked with attending the wedding of Michellia Blakros, a daughter of the notorious Blakros family. Rather than serving as bodyguards for the event, however, the brave Pathfinders instead inherit the mantle of ambassadors. A wedding of this clout has attracted many powerful figures from across Golarion, and it is up to the players to schmooze these potential allies of the Society.
The first two-thirds of the adventure are entirely social. The group is provided a list of pertinent nobles, merchant lords, and public figures who are in attendance of the wedding, and they must garner their favour by the time the bride and groom say “I do.”
This is accomplished through a series of diplomacy, bluff, or intimidate checks. Again, like in Fortress of the Nail, different NPCs react to these different skills in different ways – reflected in their flavour text and save DCs. One may be a glutton for flattery; another may only respond to cowboy diplomacy. Reading the NPCs and deducing the best way to massage their ego is the foremost challenge of the scenario.
And this can take a very long time. There are seven or eight NPCs total that need to be tapped, each requiring multiple skill checks to schmooze into submission. A few, such as the battle-hardened warrior and the beleaguered museum curator, lend themselves to especially engaging conversations. An inattentive game master could easily run out of time.
This is why I advocate scheduling a little extra time for The Blakros Matrimony. If you can manage it, give this adventure an extra hour or two – or even an additional session – to reap the full rewards of these well-developed roleplaying bits.
The faction missions in the Blakros Matrimony become a bit of a nuisance because they conflict with these strong social elements. The scenario only grants a finite number of opportunities to speak to individual NPCs during the preamble to the wedding, and a player must forfeit one of these opportunities in order to tackle a faction mission.
A faction mission that pits a player’s own interests against those of their party is always a bad faction mission, and I hate seeing this design flaw recur in scenario after scenario.
Although combat isn’t the focus of The Blakros Matrimony, the first of the two encounters is actually quite dynamic. The players – who, by the way, must forfeit their armour and peacebond their weapons prior to their arrival at the wedding – discover that a crew of ne’er-do-wells are swapping the bride-to-be for a look-alike. With the Blakros maiden in chains and a gaggle of goons ready to push her off to sea, the party has limited time to intervene.
That is, if they choose to intervene at all. As always, things are not always what they seem when you’re dealing with the Blakros family.
The second encounter feels a bit tacked on by comparison. The incursion of shadow creatures is thematically divergent from the rest of the adventure – almost as if it’s simply there to remind the players that they are indeed residing in a high fantasy setting. It also suffers a bit from occurring at the tail-end of a particularly drawn out scenario, making it prone to be glossed over by the game master.
The fight is a somewhat lackluster finale to an otherwise great scenario. Although The Blakros Matrimony requires strong stewardship on the part of the game master, it rewards this investment with a rich roleplaying experience on both sides of the table. The adventure doesn’t balance diplomacy and combat quite as adeptly as Fortress of the Nail, but it’s definitely worth the time.