I'm helping my DM with the preparation side of running Shackled City (well, converting it to Pathfinder for first time players and an underwater setting) and he's recently mentioned he doesn't want to deal with XP, and would rather players level up at narratively important points.

He's wanting to try and keep us on track with the intention of the book leveling-wise, though we started at level 2 to allow one player to play a ghost while also getting a class level.

If anyone's familiar with the adventure path (which is 13 chapters from level 1 to 20, crossing multiple planes and dealing with several conspiracies) I would appreciate some help!


1 Answer 1


Shackled City and Leveling

My copy of shackled city is in storage, but that really isn't important for my opinion on this topic - that the dramatically appropriate points to level up will depend on player actions. Unless you are staying very firmly 'on rails' (and your GM's attitude towards the xp system indicates a style of play that is the opposite of that) the story and structure of any adventure will change based on the group that is playing through it, and their decisions during the story.

As such, if leveling up should be occurring at dramatically appropriate times, that will vary depending on the group that undertakes it, and where the dramatic moments fall (and the type, and intensity of those moments) during the game's storyline.

From memory, Shackled City's encounters are a bit.. wonky.. in terms of challenge as well, sometimes more, sometimes less. Adjusting those encounters a bit is something that a GM running that adventure path should be doing (to make the difficulty curve a bit less jagged, or more jagged (depends on which kind of party you have, the one that likes simple battles, or the one that prefers Hardmode)), which should give you a rough idea of the CR of those fights - or the level at which the party should be to be able to defeat them. This allows you to more naturally give out levels at moments that seem to warrant such - moments of great triumph, or solemnity, or any emotion the players are feeling really - instead of at a moment you've pre-decided to which might fall flat (depending on situation).

  • \$\begingroup\$ So would you advise 'look at the level suggestion at the start of each chapter and dole out enough levels to reach that range by the end of the previous chapter'? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jasmine
    Apr 3, 2016 at 0:38

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