The trouble I sort of foresaw was going to be getting the players to investigate all the aspects of the first chapter, not just focusing on the missing fisherman (who saved the woodelf outcast's life as he was traveling to Averheim). Now I'm not sure how to proceed. The adventure is written not expecting the players to find the scaven until after the party/theft, but doesn't give enough ideas on how to run an investigation to keep the players interested and not feeling like they are being railroaded or distracted by me trying to get them to do other things. Valvorik mentioned a sort of winds of change scenario, which would be great if I hadn't just run that :S They also refused to help the dockers look for thier missing man, though I don't think this is a huge problem, but makes me a little concerened about them getting tunnel vision. As it is their plans for day 2 include trying to get an audience with the wizard (introduce the Southlands exhibition) and try and find a place that Jurgen Klinkski may have gone to get fire wood. This is obviously a good place to start an investigation but all I can think of doing is making it a bit of a dead end (which might anoy my players).
Can anyone give me some advice? All I can think now is that I have 2 days to fill before all the coach trip stuff takes them out of town. I do have a side plot with the Witch-hunter character looking for a wizard he blames for his regiment being slaughtered at 3rd Black Fire (an 'accidental' misscast I'm going to tie in with the conspiracy) but the missing people are going to draw my players attention the most. And my player size is 2, so only so many personal quests to distract them.
That said, the rest of the adventure looks like it's going to be awesome!
I don't think that not looking for missing docker gang boss halts things as long as they are looking for other missing folks.
A few thoughts, admittedly ill organized, steam of consciousness.
First, using the Winds of Change approach I mean use a "time clock" where narrative time means each player gets about 4 chances a day to do something worthwhile. You poke around, ask people who know nothing, waste time etc. then have one chance etc. I don't mean using the events of that adventure just the time clock appproach which I have used in other adventures without complaints of it being "repeating", it's just a system like initiative etc. So). trying to get to see Mauer is one of the 4 things to do for example (a delay roll means of course 2).
If it was my game, checking out Jurgen's movements takes them to the mudflat and they learn that high water since the time he vanished would have removed traces, indeed there was high water that night. Jurgen was last seen leaving the White Horse (it being the taven on the stinky way [if you put the names of the wegs through google translate] it's where a Fisherman gets drinks), but 'it was raining so weather was not fit for man nor beast" so no witnesses to him. Olga and he don't live in her stall of course, they live in a ramshackle tenement a block further inland.
The real clues to find are the timing of vanishing and rain (high water), the odd report of a strange figure. There is fun opportunity to confuse "the black cowl" with the mysterious figure on the docks (skaven).
If they don't help the dockers, you can have docker gang fights breaking out and causing trouble.
They can get the rumours about strange figures on docks at night. Then they nap in day to stay up at night. If it's not raining of course, they only run afoul of warring gangs and criminals.
The merchant in trouble on day 2 is also a good way to involve them in an action scene and bring the criminal activity on stage, they might even witness the murder that night of the body found day 3.
On day 2, Mauer won't have more to say than he does on Day 3 when another body found.
On day 2, it didn't rain last night, the Skaven were not dragging victims around (just killing someone whose body is meant to be found as part of intimidating underwold). The weather gets miserable as day goes on, making it bad time to be out and about anyway. If you have Gathering Storm you can borrow weather effects (or just note that Heavy Rain means all Observation and vision checks - including ballistic attacks - suffer a misfortune die beyond medium range).
The night of day 2 Ute is taken (it's raining). A key thing to make sure is that they meet Ute first. Ute should be lovable and when she goes missing it should tweak them.
If they try to put together rain and vanishings, that takes at least 1 turn of the clock for example to come up with the fact that people have vanished every night it was raining hard and river swollen. If it was Call of Cthulhu, they would be thinking Deep Ones. In any event "something coming out the river" might be suspsected and someone seeing a shaggy shape emerge from the water (a skaven of course) could add to that (being rats I consider them good swimmers, it's the only bath they get).
If worst comes to worst and they find the Skaven lair have them "already cleared out" (to a secondary lair). Leave traces of their presence, or create some "gutter runner" expendibles but make it clear the real ones have left. Keep Skrabb at least around to steal the artefact.
You can play up the criminal underworld events. Use it as a red herring even, create some more thugs and cut throats who are part of the Black Cowl's network, in my game this will be "the Brotherhood" a new criminal organization that is a shadowy network. They may try to scare PC's off as being unwelcome in the docks. Ultimately this is related of course, as the skaven and criminal network have same master. Perhaps the wizard if corrupt is part of the criminal network now and even if found turns out was "doing some research work for someone about strange ratmen bells". This way their interests lead them back to the stirring pot.
Also, I would not feel wed to things happening on the Days given. Move up or back bodies found, even the coach trip etc.