It was all going so well… and then I tried to run the garden party with hardly any preparation as my friends refused to go home and it was our third day straight of gaming without me having a chance to really plan anything and I was tired so I ended up just talking for most of it and boring my players so they didn't really want to interfere with stuff happening between NPCs or investigating and seemed to get a little frustrated when the scaven just ran past them!
So my first point is don't do that!
However the adventure had gone pretty well up to this point, this being our 4th session. The PCs were suspicious at the amount of disappearances that were going on. They had also seen a cloaked figure late one night, and thinking it might be the Black Cowl had tried to follow it, but lost it on the river's banks. They paid off Beatrice Knox's debts at the last minute, and followed her to the Upright Pig, where she handed the money over to an individual who then slipped through a door into the cellar of the inn. However when they tried to follow they were met by several thugs at the door, and after a long stand off decided they didn't have any evidence that the disappearances were to do with them and they would probably get murdered if they tried to fight their way inside.
But then we came to the part I hadn't been expecting to reach until next week!
So in hindsight, this is what I think I should have been trying to include during the party:
Information about the current political climate. With all the nobles around this has to be the main topic of chat. The reason the Black Cowl may consider Clothilde Von Alptraum a threat could be worked into this part. This could either contrast with the power struggle in the docks or reflect it, in a more civilised way.
Rumours about Kislev having to fend off more marauder raids than usual and that they might be assembling an army for an invasion would be good to fit in here, otherwise the war that breaks out a few days later might seem like it's come out of the blue.
More ways for the PCs to be involved. I've not done a scene like this before and it ended up with the players just listening to me as I waffled on about what they saw. Maybe writing out a few events that can happen, like at the ball in 'Edge of Night' would help anyone planning on running this part. I know this might not be much of a problem for some GMs, I've been in games where all the players just make any scene their own, which can be a great time for mischief and mayhem. However my party consists of two players that I lost the attentions of early on in the session.
So the action for this bit is designed to be confusing to the PCs. They don't know exactly what is going on. Screams are coming from the hedge maze which one of them may have seen a large creature shamble into. Anyone who stays within the tent may have to deal with panicked nobles as well as the smoke bomb going off. (This was what happened to the Witch Hunter, who was expecting someone to try and steal the jade face, so stayed in the tent and tried to clear everyone out of it by firing his pistol. Chaos star caused the crowd to panic and rush past him, forcing him outside.)
The trouble is it can get very confusing for the GM and the players too! So here are a few tips of things I would do different next time.
1) MAKE A LARGE PRINT OF THE HEDGE MAZE THAT YOU CAN DRAW ON!! Can't stress how useful this would have been.
2) A sketch of the grounds layout would be good. Struggled to picture how it was supposed to be layed out, and how far things were apart (i.e. the tent from the demigryph cage and the cage to the maze, the distance from the front of the tent to the back and maybe even how many manoeuvers it takes to circumvent the tent. The distance from the tent to the hedge the scaven makes a bolt for). These would be very handy to have written down for quick reference. Also think about how many entrances the tent has, and what you can see from looking out of them. In my opinion the PCs shouldn't be able to see the demigryph cage or the entrance to the hedge maze just from the tent entrance, and would need to move closer to discover what is happening.
3) Moving around in the tent after the smoke bomb has gone off should be very difficult. No only can you not see but there are probably plenty of other people who are trying to escape, tables and chairs and other hazards that need to be taken into account. Either a location card like the 'Bandit camp' or a skill check needs to be used to find the PCs way to the exhibits. The sudden sound of breaking glass or the groans of the bodyguard that gets stabbed could help.
4) Any characters who do succeed in passing the Toughness test to stay in the tent, or do what one of my players did and run around the outside, discovering the hole in the canvas as they go should be given the chance to 'stop' the theft. I was thinking of adding an accomplice to Skrabb, just a normal gutter runner. The 'Smoke bomb' action card will help Skrabb escape and it doesn't matter if the gutter runner is killed and the PCs recover whatever unimportant item it was trying to steal at the time. Of course it's body dissolves before any of the NPCs in the area get a chance to see it, and it just occurred to me that this could implement the PC in the theft of the item! Ha-ha!
5) The Demigryph is a tough opponent. Without the whole part there it would be hard to take down. If the Party happens to be combat orientated then this could turn into a fun monster hunt. If the party is not all there, or not particularly combat orientated then it would be interesting to watch the PC's trying to distract it from eating people while not getting disembowlled in the process until the Greatsword guards arrive to help out. (I like the suggestion of Amalie using wax ear plugs, might make the PCs realise she is in danger and try and find her before the demigryph does).
6) If players don't feel like charging into the maze after a large beast then this could partly turn into a social encounter as they try and calm down the crowd and organise runners to be sent to fetch a healer and the Greatsword guards… atleast until the scaven strike. As I mentioned the Witch Hunter attempted to make everyone leave, slightly disastrously (if he'd failed the check someone would probably have tackled him.)
Anyway, those are my sugestions. I don't know if anyone else has run this bit yet but if not this seems to be the first bit of the campaign that really needs a little more extra work from the GM (unless your players have done something off the rails, like mine almost did trying to demand entry to the Upright Pig cellar). Am interested in anyone else's thoughs to running this bit.