Professor Lorrimor, the renowned investigator and arcanist, has died. You came to his home in the town of Ravengro to pay your respects, but quickly discovered there was more to the wily old man's death than met the eye...
Thanks Ice Titan, I may bug you for more details as the adventure continues; haunts appear to occupy an odd spot in the rules that can leave a lot of ambiguity.
So, I'll present my full logic here; if anyone still has any concerns, please let me know. I am revealing quite a lot here, so I'll spoiler this in case some of you aren't keen to read it.
The haunt manifests in some way.
The haunt can only be damaged by positive energy.
Attacks targeting the haunt must hit AC 10, whether the haunt is within an object (e.g. a haunted knife that affects PCs who pick it up) or a 'manifestation' (e.g. an apparition).
THE PIPER OF ILLMARSH
The haunt manifests--as a dirge. It involves neither a physical object nor a localised effect.
The haunt can only be damaged by positive energy.
Since the haunt is neither within a physical object or an apparition (the figure seen by individuals affected by the haunt is not the haunt's manifestation) it actually can't be targeted except by channelled energy or some other area-of-effect effect.
Given the Piper is tied to this part of the prison, I elected to make the haunt targetable by allowing PCs to hit the structure of the prison itself with positive energy.
Hitting a floor should not require you to hit AC 10. That just doesn't make sense. The building itself is Colossal. That alone reduces its AC to 2.
However, given (a) the number of PCs with the disrupt energy cantrip and (b) the ease with which all of those PCs would be able to 'hit' the haunt, I needed some way to redress the balance, or what is certainly the largest and possibly the most dangerous fight of the entire chapter would be a cakewalk. As options, I considered a miss chance (concealment within the walls) or making the haunt effectively 'incorporeal' (without it actually being incorporeal, per se).
In the end, I chose to make the haunt 'incorporeal', because it seemed less likely to screw the PCs over on the luck of the dice the way a miss chance might. Being that you're underleveled for this fight and pretty much almost out of resources, I didn't want to cause a TPK based on whether you rolled a miss chance well or not. Taking 50% damage makes the haunt that much more predictable for everyone.
Plenty of stuff that I've read suggests that many GMs have the Piper wandering around as a ghostly apparition, or his flute floating in mid-air, but the description doesn't mention either. The haunt itself is the song--and trying to target the song, to me, just takes the game into 'I shoot the darkness' territory.
I am happy to consider alternatives, but as this is a corner case (no object, no visible manifestation) I don't expect this same set of circumstances to come up again.
Let me know if you have any suggestions or requests! : )
They're not meant to work together (see the erratum here), but to my mind, every round that Lem is casting an orison instead of a 1st level spell or making an attack is a round that Lem personally is being less effective than he could be, on an individual measure basis. Lem is, however, contributing greatly (especially at this low level) to the party's overall effectiveness.
That being said, if Lem's player is happy with the situation, I'm happy to let it continue; I'm sure there will be a turning point where Lem's spell slots and capabilities will grow to the point where other options are more attractive than orisons.
So effectively, nothing changes--I just wanted to make a statement to that effect. : )
Hey Cyn, I didn't know this was the case with Harmonic Spell, so thanks for the heads up. If you're willing to let me keep playing this way, that's awesome. If you at some point decide that you don't want it to work with orisons, I won't be offended.
I also agree that it seems that as we get a few more levels it will become moot (If I'm spamming Virtue/Resistance at high levels, we're screwed anyway, hehe).
I have no problem with this (though i don't feel strongly one way or the other). Generally within a few rounds we can guess within a point or two where the AC is anyway (based on previous successful/failed rolls).
Ah, gotcha. Well, it's all good, I'll keep the move. This way we at least get to see what his music is, hehe. If people get affected I can always switch back to Countersong next round and give everyone another save.
This assumes that I don't get killed by this one lone skeleton, which I can't seem to shake.
Last year there was only one bad occurrence (and honestly not that bad). She was 14, and some guy who I happened to know through work (and more importantly knew he was over 30), was being overly friendly for someone her age (wanting hugs and whatnot). It didn't end badly or anything but I did have to use the Death Stare, after mentioning her age.
Hey Cyn, here's what I was thinking about using Countersong again in case anyone fails their DC 14 Save.
If a creature within range of the countersong is already under the effect of a non-instantaneous sonic or language-dependent magical attack, it gains another saving throw against the effect each round it hears the countersong, but it must use the bard's Perform skill check result for the save. Countersong does not work on effects that don't allow saves. Countersong relies on audible components.
So I guess my idea won't work if this is an instantaneous effect.
Note that everyone gets +1 morale bonus to that DC 14 save from Inspire Courage. I believe Dragomir still has Remove Fear, so he should get a +4 to his save. It seems like the Piper thing is also a fear effect, so he should get a +4 to that, no? Also, I believe if I switch back to Countersong everyone can use my Perform roll again to get another save against the piper's attack.
Yes, remove fear will still be active on Dragomir. For the sake of simplicity we'll say it wears off at the end of this encounter.
As for the haunt inducing a fear effect, thematically I will say yes, as I have altered the description of the effect from what's in the text. Mea culpa.
So if everyone gains a +1 morale bonus on their Will saves to avoid the effects of the Piper's song, from inspire courage, then nobody can gain any benefit from countersong until next round--regardless of the order in which you post, we can't have two separate bardic performance effects occurring in the same round.
As for countersong granting a second save against the Piper's song, that would be true if we were running on normal initiative, but with group initiative I don't think we can do that without introducing some really odd effects/exceptions.
1. Make your saves this round including a +1 morale bonus from inspire courage.
2. Next round you can use Lem's Perform skill check result instead if you wish.
3. Nobody gets a second save against the effect.
Happy to talk about this in the discussion thread if anyone has any objections or alternatives, but for this encounter this is how it will work.
Yeah, I considered the group initiative and everything and tried to avoid any related problems, but that's why I made sure to go first in Rounds 3 and 4.
In round 2 I'm using countersong. Piper goes first in round 3 (countersong still active), so my roll works (everyone gets affected by the countersong for one round, from my turn in round 2 to my turn in round 3).
Then I go first in round 3 (still after Piper's turn, so my order in our initiative shouldn't matter, I believe), granting everyone Inspire Courage.
In round 4, Piper goes first and everyone has to save vs his effect, as IC is in effect now, not countersong.
Then on my turn in Round 4, Inspire Courage is going. I use it on my attack, then swift action switch to Countersong.
So Inspire Courage lasted from my turn in round 3, to my turn in round 4. Countersong should last from my turn round 4 to my turn in round 5 (and in this case, should allow everyone who failed their save to use my perform check, for the part of Countersong that says those already under effect of a sonic/language-based attack are granted another save).
I agree with not double counting performance, but I don't think this is an example of that. Each round of my performance affected everyone for one round. If countersong has no effect this round, then I'm using a round of performance for no benefit this round(as my Inspire Courage only lasted from round 3 to round 4.) Essentially, my song for round 4 is not providing a countersong or inspire courage benefit.
Now I'm not trying to argue, as had you not allowed my Harmonious Spell to work with Orisons I should have been out of Performance Rounds anyway. Just trying to say how I saw it.
Thanks Lem. One thing to change, purely for clarity's sake--the Piper is going last each round:
I actually agree with your interpretation--but I probably didn't express myself as well as I could have.
The sticking point isn't the order in which people are posting (and I do appreciate that you've been first cab off the rank each round, that does help), it's more that by the time I was able to post this morning, Raj and Rose had both already taken Inspire Courage into account in their posts. Untangling all that would be a pain (even though they missed), and if individuals are benefiting from +1 to their saves vs. the dirge (you save at the beginning of your turn, not as an immediate action on the Piper's turn) then they can't simultaneously benefit from countersong.
Surprise round (Piper): Manifests, targets Rose, Rose makes her save. Begins dirge.
Round 1 (PCs): No PCs need to save vs. dirge; use Lem's countersong instead. Lem continues using countersong.
Round 1 (Piper): Targets Karrik, Karrik makes his save. Continues dirge.
Round 2 (PCs): No PCs need to save vs. dirge, use Lem's countersong. Lem continues using countersong.
Round 2 (Piper): Piper targets Theron, Theron makes his save. Continues dirge.
Round 3 (PCs): No PCs need to save vs. dirge, use Lem's countersong. Lem switches to inspire courage. PCs benefit from inspire courage.
Round 3 (Piper): Piper targets Dragomir. Dragomir makes his save. Continues dirge.
Round 4 (PCs): The PCs need to save vs. dirge on their own (inspire courage is active at the beginning of Team PC's turn). Lem switches back to countersong. The PCs should not be benefiting from inspire courage when they make their attacks--but they are. Whether the PCs get a second save thanks to countersong or not is open to interpretation; as the haunt doesn't specify whether it's an instantaneous effect (and I can't find the spell effect that this element of the haunt is based on--feel free to chime in if you know) and the save has to happen at the beginning of each PC's turn and doesn't specify how long the PC is shaken for ("each round, all living creatures (except for stirges)...must make a DC 14 Will save at the start of their turn to avoid being shaken by the effect").
Effectively, while group initiative means that everyone's actions occur in the order of their being posted, everyone's turn (during which those actions are taken) extends to before the first PC action is taken, and to after the last PC action is taken. This means that everyone has to save against the Piper without the benefit of countersong this turn.
So either the PCs need to stop benefiting from inspire courage (and perhaps gain a second save against the Piper's dirge this round thanks to countersong), or they can take their +1 to hit/damage this round and start benefiting from countersong for their save vs. dirge next round. Does that make more sense?
HPs 16/(26)28...AC18/Touch11/Flatfoot17/CMD 18||HP 26/| Fort:+5 ;Ref:+2 ;Wil+0|Percept +1/Sense Motive +5 Male Human Ustalav Varisian Fighter/2 *12 Con /Fort:+4
This battle feels suitably epic. Truth told its not that bad, but the Piper adds a nice twist to it that could have been MUCH worse if not for Lem. Its also the first BIG haunt we've hit.
I trust there will be no objections if we head back to the Lorrimor house after this one?
Assuming I lose another 2-3 con (5-6 total), then I will regain 1 con a for each 8 hours rest. This can be doubled to 2 with a heal check - If I spend a full day abed its 4 Con (heal check)
I recommend post this, we take a full day bed rest (heal up) and hopefully give Karrik and Sept a chance to whip up some more fire bombs. Day 2 I would like half a day a bed and some more work with the villagers including seeing if we can sell some loot for some more holy water and other role play.
Just so you guys know, I'm going on a trip tomorrow to visit a friend who's having a wedding. I'll be gone until Sunday. I Should be able to get on the internet while I'm gone, but I just figured I should warn you just in case.
One word of warning for all of you--I am the kind of GM who changes the dungeon if you leave it alone. I'm not saying you should stay and I am most certainly not trying to suggest you clear the whole building in one go, but I am telling you that you shouldn't expect things to remain the same if you leave and come back. Just so there are no surprises. ; )